World premiere of professor’s new musical composition

December 03, 2016

Photo by Craig Schreiner

EllenwoodMilwaukee's Bel Canto Chorus will perform the world premiere of a new composition by Christian Ellenwood, professor of music at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Ellenwood's composition, "Love Came Down at Christmas," is scored for choir, brass ensemble, organ and timpani. The second movement of the work features an extensive soprano solo, which will be sung by UW-Whitewater alumna Rebecca Deisinger Whitney.

Bel Canto Music Director Richard Hynson commissioned the new musical composition from Ellenwood for the chorus's 2016 Christmas Concerts, which will take place Dec. 9, 10 and 11 in the expansive domed sanctuary of the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee.

While in the process of creating his new work, Ellenwood considered many possible texts to set to music, but was ultimately drawn to the elegance of Rossetti's poetry. According to Ellenwood, "the balance, clarity, and simplicity of her lines disguise the nuance and sophistication that are ever-present in her work. Her poems express the complexities, contradictions, and simultaneous dualities that accompany almost every moment of life and living. She juxtaposes darkness and light, chillness and warmth, mundanity and transcendence, wonder and danger - and shows us that these things are not opposites; they are unities within the multiple dimensions of human experience."

Christian Ellenwood's compositions have been performed internationally and throughout the United States at major venues such as Carnegie Hall and at international concerts, festivals and conferences. His music has also been broadcast over several major classical networks, including Chicago's WFMT. A passionate clarinetist, Ellenwood has performed with the Grammy Award-winning Ying Quartet, and performs as principal clarinetist with the Skylight Opera of Milwaukee, the Woodstock Mozart Festival, and several other orchestras. He serves as instructor of clarinet and music theory at UW-Whitewater, where he has received numerous awards, including the W. P. Roseman Award, the university's highest honor for excellence in teaching.

Founded in 1931, Bel Canto Chorus is known throughout the choral music world as a preeminent vocal arts institution. They perform internationally and in collaboration with other performing groups such as the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra.