The Saint Ursula Academy Vocal Ensemble (SUAVE) is one of 25 choirs around Greater Cincinnati that have been invited to participate in a collaboration project with Luna Lab as part of the Festival’s anniversary. Each choir has been paired with a composer from the Luna Composition Lab
, a program that mentors young composers ages 13-18 from all around the United States. SUAVE is excited to be paired with Jack Gjaja, a composer and pianist from New York City.
SUAVE will perform the new piece by Jack Gjaja and songs chosen by the group as part of a community showcase on Sunday, March 19, 2023 at Christ Church Cathedral at 2:00 pm. This performance is free and open to the public.
“We are thrilled to be part of the May Festival planning and events,” said Katherine Jennings ’09, Music Director at Saint Ursula Academy. “Our students have enjoyed contributing to the selection process for the poem that will be set to music. Experiencing the creation of a song from beginning to end and then getting to perform that song as part of such a historic event will be a memory they will cherish forever.”
“Commissions and premieres have been a consistent feature of the May Festival since its founding in 1873,” said Dr. Matthew Swanson, Associate Director of Choruses and Director of Special Projects for the May Festival. “I look forward to the new work that SUAVE and Jack Gjaja will create together! We are grateful to Katherine Jennings, the St. Ursula community, and the members of SUAVE for their commitment to this project.”
About the Composer
Jack Gjaja (b. 2005) is a composer and pianist from New York City. Their works explore acoustic, electro-acoustic, and electronic landscapes. They draw inspiration from Messiaen, classic punk, Ionesco, trees, and ghosts, among other things. Since 2020, they've joined composers from around the world at the Wildflower Composers Festival, with premieres of their works Icy climb with a side of Mockingtrack by saxophonist Kristen McKeon, and Gloria! by Andrew Yee, Hanchien Lee, and Jessica Beebe. A 2020 Luna Composition Fellow, they've been commissioned by the Cincinnati May Festival and Intersection Festival as part of the LISTEN project. Jack has attended Manhattan School of Music Precollege, Mannes School of Music Prep, and Kaufman Music Center. They've studied with the following wonderful people: (composition) Mary Kouyoumdjian, David Bird, Tamar Muskal; (piano) Elena Leonova, and Adrienne Kim. In addition to composition, they've performed in Montreal, Rovinj, Cremona, Bennington and New York.
About the May Festival
“One of the Best Classical Music Festivals in the U.S. and Canada” (BBC Magazine, 2021 and 2022) and recognized as a leader in increasing diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in the choral world (Chorus America, 2022), the Cincinnati May Festival
is distinguished by its unique community-based structure and standard of extraordinary artistic excellence. Founded in 1873, the annual May Festival is the oldest choral festival in the Western Hemisphere. Many important choral works have received their world and American premieres at the May Festival in the past 150 years, including Johann Sebastian Bach’s Magnificat, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana, Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Death of the Bishop of Brindisi, and Robert Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses. Anchored by the May Festival Chorus and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the May Festival hosts an international array of guest artists in nine dynamic productions and is currently under the leadership of Principal Conductor Juanjo Mena and Director of Choruses Robert Porco.
To learn more about Saint Ursula Academy, please visit www.saintursula.org
Back row: Gabrielle Plummer ’25, Emily Schuermann ’24, Momo Greenwell ’23, Sammie Neeb ’23, Alex Serger ’24, Camille Roman ’26, Anya Sperber ’24,
Front row: Ellamae Brodbeck ’25, Maya Chavez ’25, Megan Knapke ’23, Lily Anderson ’24, Addie Goss ’26