California chorus heralds its 45th anniversary with an exciting, cutting-edge commission from Ted Hearne

Palo Alto, California -- In its 45th year, the Peninsula Women’s Chorus (PWC) has forged a partnership with up-and-coming New York City composer Ted Hearne to produce Ripple, an exciting new commission for treble voice choir.


Martín Benvenuto, artistic director of the PWC, approached Hearne with the request to “...give us something challenging, something we haven’t heard before....something to mark the times, let us know what you’re thinking about musically right now.” 


With Ripple, Hearne continues his musical approach as an editorial response to calamitous world events. Ted Hearne previously garnered rave reviews for his expansive journalistic song cycle, “Katrina Ballads”, based on the natural disaster and our country’s response to it.  The composition also won him the Gaudeamus Prize for composition. The New York Times music review, “A Flood Of Songs Washing Over a City”, spoke of the “tough edge and wildness of spirit” that marked this piece. 


As with “Katrina Ballads”, Hearne sets this latest work to primary-source texts.  In the eight-part Ripple, Hearne uses just one sentence from recorded internal military cables known as the Iraq War Logs: “The marine that engaged from Post 7 was unable to determine the occupants of the vehicle due to the reflection of the sun coming off the windshield.”


Set in its entirety at the beginning and end of the piece, Hearne uses this text in various excerpts in the remaining inner movements.  The composer employs intricate polyrhythms, juxtaposing soulful spiritual-like tunes with quasi-minimalistic elements that reiterate small shifting phrases. This imbues the piece with a sense of flashback and disembodied memories in an exciting tour de force for the choral medium.


Hearne explains: “Ripple seeks to portray the effect of a singular trauma on the memory of someone who was involved.”  Through music, he challenges us to ponder the effects of war on the human psyche.   


The PWC’s dedication to excellence in music and support of the growth of treble voice choral literature is a key ingredient in its DNA.  A winner of two prestigious ASCAP awards for adventurous programming, the chorus has proven its commitment to the support of cutting- edge new works. What better way to mark the occasion than with the commission of a new choral piece by a bright musical voice of our time? Ripple will be premiered at the PWC’s spring concert on May 12, 2012, and Mr. Hearne will be in attendance for this performance.


For more information about the concert series please visit




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