Melinda Bargreen has been a music critic for four decades, most of that period at The Seattle Times. She has won several awards for journalism and choral composition, and contributes to many national and international publications. Melinda was Choral Arts Northwest’s Composer in Residence for 2014-15. Her choral work “Stella Splendens” was premiered by Voices of Ascension (New York City) and was one of three Sorel Choral Competition medalists in 2013, and “Silver Night” received one of the first Silver Platter Repertoire Awards from the ChoralNet Composition Showcase. “Silver Night” was premiered by J. Reilly Lewis and the Cathedral Choral Society. A new version of that work was premiered in 2013 by the Seattle Men’s Chorus. Other compositions have been performed as far afield as China, Norway, the United Kingdom, and The Netherlands.


Melinda holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Washington, and a doctorate from the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of “Classical Seattle,” published by the University of Washington Press in 2015, and “Fifty Years of Seattle Opera,” published by Marquand Press in August, 2014.


Billy Childs (b. Los Angeles, 1957) earned his bachelor degree in composition from USC in 1979. Since then Mr. Childs has received a number of orchestral and chamber commissions from, among others: the Los

Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, The Kronos Quartet, Anne Akiko Meyers, and Rachel Barton Pine. He has garnered five Grammy Awards (16 nominations), a

Guggenheim Fellowship, a Composers Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, and an Outstanding Alumnus Award from the USC Thornton School of Music. He

has been called “one of the most distinctly American voices in composition, of his generation”.


Cristian Grases joined the USC Thornton faculty in the Fall 2010 semester and is currently an associate professor of choral music and conductor of the USC Thornton Concert Choir. Born in Venezuela, he earned degrees from the Simón Bolívar University (MM) in Caracas, Venezuela, and the University of Miami (DMA). He has previously served as interim director of choral activities at Central Washington University; assistant professor in choral music at California State University, Los Angeles; and national coordinator of choirs for EL SISTEMA under Maestro José Antonio Abreu. He also served as conductor for the Women’s Chamber Ensemble of the University of Miami, was the assistant conductor of the Miami Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Eduardo Marturet, and the conductor of the Young Musician’s Orchestra. Additionally, he is an award-winning conductor and composer, and has been commissioned to write for several prestigious organizations such as the Piedmont Children's Chorus and the Santa Fe Desert Chorale. Numerous ensembles including the Los Angeles Master Chorale have performed his works.


Alex Shapiro (b. New York City, 1962) aligns note after note with the hope that at least a few of them will actually sound good next to each other. Her persistence at this activity, as well as non-fiction music writing, public speaking, arts advocacy volunteerism, wildlife photography, and the shameless instigation of insufferable puns on Facebook, has led to a happy life. Drawing from a broad musical palette that defies genre, Alex's acoustic and electroacoustic works are published by Activist Music LLC, performed and broadcast daily, and can be found on nearly thirty commercial releases from record labels around the world. Alex lives on Washington State's remote San Juan Island, and when she's not composing or rushing to catch a ferry to the mainland, she can be found communing with the sea life, as seen on her music and photo-filled blog, www.notesfromthekelp.com and her website, www.alexshapiro.org.


Nick Strimple is a member of the faculty at the USC Thornton School of Music and affiliated faculty in the Jewish Studies Program at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. He has composed in virtually all genres, receiving commissions from numerous organizations and performers including the Vienna International Organ Festival, the J. Paul Getty Museum and the London Youth Choir. He also has considerable experience in popular music, having served as arranger or director for Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart, Air Supply and other leading artists. In addition to his extensive catalog of compositions and recordings, he is also a scholar of music related to the Holocaust and author of two critically acclaimed books, Choral Music in the Twentieth Century and Choral Music in the Nineteenth Century.  Please go to <nickstrimple.com> for more information.

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