Darren Schmidt, an award-winning composer and performer from Baltimore, Maryland, was the winner of 2018's Chorus Austin Young Composers Competition. His work, Set Me as a Seal, received its world premier performances as part of Chorus Austin's "Southwest Voices" concerts May 5 & 6, 2018 in Austin, Texas.
Earning his undergraduate degree in composition from Towson University, Darren has accrued a diverse collection of pieces ranging from solo works to choir and symphonic band.
The music Darren loves most is the kind that "meets people where they are." As such, he endeavors to write engaging and meaningful music that resonates with audiences and performers alike.
In describing Set Me as a Seal, Darren shared, "I grew up singing in the Maryland State Boychoir for 10 years. A number of years ago, a fellow choir member lost his life a few days before his 21st birthday. We had spent several years becoming good friends and since I was in high school at the time, I very much looked up to him. The choir sang at his funeral, and that experience is one that I will never forget.
"Remembering the testimony of his father, who felt the most responsible for his son’s death (which was through no immediate fault of his own) brings tears to my eyes even as I write this. Their relationship was one of a constant challenge of authority, and the father couldn’t help wondering in hindsight if he could have been more loving while trying to convince his son what he knew was best for him. As any father might, he wished he would have been able to hold his son just one more time and let him how much he loved him."
Darren’s firsthand experience as a singer and F Horn player continues to enhance this perspective. When he’s not composing, he enjoys performing in several groups, including his barbershop quartet Pratt Street Power, barbershop chorus Parkside Harmony, male chamber choir Quorus, and the Maryland Military Band.
Darren is a member of ASCAP and ACDA.
2017 Winner Carlos Cordero "7 Seconds of Love"
Carlos Cordero, a graduate student at Moores School of Music at the University of Houston, captured the winning spot in 2017's Chorus Austin Young Composers Competition. His work, Seven Seconds of Love, received its world premiere performances as part of Chorus Austin’s “Southwest Voices” concerts May 20 & 21, 2017 in Austin.
“Seven Seconds of Love is a beautiful new work that captures the composer’s sensitivity, as well as his desire for us to all acknowledge the power of love and the powerful work it can accomplish when we allow it to work through us,” Artistic Director Ryan Heller said. The piece was selected from more than 30 submissions for this year’s competition. “An initial standout, Seven Seconds of Love was chosen along with four other compositions as a semi-finalist,” Heller said. These five works were then read by the Chamber Ensemble singers, who provided feedback.
“Among the factors considered were form, text setting, harmonic language, rhythmic vitality, non-traditional techniques and a marriage of music and text that would provide a meaningful journey for our singers as well as our audience.”
As a composer, Cordero enjoys writing music mainly for the voice, having completed a three-act operetta, Un Cuento de Luces y Sombras (A Tale of Light and Shadows), with an original story and libretto. Among his works, he counts compositions for voice and piano, for choir (a cappella and accompanied), as well as music for chamber ensembles and orchestra.
His works have been performed internationally, including concerts in Venezuela, the United States, Canada, Belgium and Australia. Runner-up for the 2016 TPS Composition Competition, the composer is a former voice student at Conservatorio de Music Jose Luis Paz, tutored by soprano Maribel Gomez and formerly a singer in Grupo Coral Venezziola. He currently sings with the Houston Symphony Chorus and Moores School of Music’s Opera Chorus at the University of Houston.
Born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Cordero now lives in Houston where he is enrolled in the Master of Music in Composition program at University of Houston. Cordero holds a bachelor of music degree from Universidad Catolica Cecilia Acosta (UNICA, 2015) and is finishing a Specialization in Composition (UNICA, 2017) with Maestro Franklin Pier as his mentor. Chorus Austin inaugurated its Young Composers Competition in the fall of 2013 to support new choral music by composers age 30 and under. In its fourth year, the group received more than 30 entries from composers living in Texas, Massachusetts, New York, Canada, Great Britain and from our winner who is Venezuelan.
Building community through vocal music since 1965. Chorus Austin is a 501(c)(3) Not for Profit Organization.