A Tribute to Stephen Paulus


Click to enlarge (opens pdf)

Craig Hella Johnson and Conspirare will pay tribute to the late, great Stephen Paulus (1949-2014), known for his lush melodies, elegant craftsmanship and a mastery of understanding the human voice to create gorgeous compositions. The program will feature rarely performed mixed-chorus works, including the five-movement 2007 Conspirare commission, Poemas de Amor and favorites such as Pilgrims’ Hymn and Hymn to the Eternal Flame. Conspirare will also debut the world premiere of Turn by contemporary composer Tarik O’Regan. With Faith Debow, piano, Thomas Burritt, percussion, and (for Minnesota performances) Kathy Kienzle, harp.

Mr. Paulus was a cherished member of the choral arts community and a mentor and inspiration for choral composers everywhere. He wrote over 400 works for chorus, including 12 operas, and in 1973 co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now known as the American Composers Forum. In 2016 Mr. Paulus was posthumously awarded the Grammy® for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.  Read full bio (pdf from stephenpaulus.com).

Program approximately 120 minutes plus intermission.

Program Booklet

As part of Conspirare’s ongoing outreach program we will be conducting a choral workshop for five high schools in Eagan, Minnesota and will be presenting a concert for staff and volunteers at the Center for Victims of Torture headquarters in St. Paul.

05.11.16 (7:30pm), Wednesday

St. Mary’s Catholic Church
304 W. San Antonio St., Fredericksburg, TX

Online/phone advance ticket sales end 10am Wednesday, May 11. Door Sales / Will Call at venue opens 6pm.

Pre-concert talk, Most Folks Just Called Him Steve, by composer Joshua Shank one hour before the performance

05.12.16 (8pm), Thursday
05.13.16 (8pm), Friday

St. Martin’s Lutheran Church
606 W. 15th St., Austin, TX

Online/phone advance ticket sales end 4pm each day. Door Sales* / Will Call at venue opens 6:30pm.


Joshua Shank

Pre-concert talk, Most Folks Just Called Him Steve, by composer Joshua Shank one hour before each Austin performance

Fredericksburg and Austin Pre-Concert Talks: Before he moved to Austin in 2010, composer Joshua Shank lived and worked in Minnesota’s Twin Cities for nearly a decade. During that time he regularly came into contact with one of the city’s musical luminaries, Stephen Paulus. Join Joshua as he shares memories from Steve’s friends and family, and talks about the journey that listeners will be taken on by Conspirare’s performance of these remarkable works. Talks begin 1 hour before each performance.

Joshua Shank's Bio

Joshua Shank (b. 1980)

Joshua Shank’s works have been widely performed by educational and professional ensembles alike. His music has been called “jubilant… ethereal” (Santa Barbara News-Press) and “evocative and atmospheric” (Gramophone). The Boston Classical Review called his Magnificat for the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo “powerful” and “emotionally charged.”

He has been commissioned by some of the most exciting choral ensembles in the United States as well as abroad and has collaborated with organizations such as Conspirare, the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the American Choral Directors Association, The Esoterics, the Minnesota All-State Choir, and the Lorelei Ensemble (Boston). From 2004 to 2014 he served as Composer-In-Residence for the Minneapolis-based professional choir, The Singers: Minnesota Choral Artists, and alongside Artistic Director Matthew Culloton and fellow composers-in-residence Abbie Betinis and Jocelyn Hagen, collaborated annually to expand and invigorate the repertoire for professional-caliber ensembles through innovative programming as well as new works written specifically for the ensemble.

Joshua received his undergraduate degree in Vocal Music Education from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa where he studied conducting with Weston Noble and composition with John Morrison and Neil Flory. In 2002, he became the youngest composer ever awarded the Raymond W. Brock Composition Award by the American Choral Directors Association. The winning piece, Musica animam tangens, was premiered at the 2003 ACDA National Convention in Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center and has since been performed and recorded from Los Angeles to South Africa.

His music was recently featured in a documentary about the extensive choral tradition in the Upper Midwest, Never Stop Singing, and his best-selling choral work, The Boy Who Picked Up His Feet to Fly, was featured in the book Choral Charisma by Tom Carter. His published works for choir, band, and solo voice have sold over 100,000 copies worldwide and are available through Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Alliance, G. Schirmer, Graphite, Hal Leonard and Daehn Publications.

In recent years, Joshua has enjoyed writing program notes for various ensembles and composers around the US. In 2008 he received a grant from the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission to write for a choral celebration of the state’s 150th anniversary, and three years later he was engaged to write an essay for The Singers for their presentation of Jocelyn Hagen’s evening-length oratorio, amass. Most recently he collaborated with Conspirare to write extensive notes for their album of Samuel Barber’s choral music.

A native of Minnesota, Joshua currently lives in the Windsor Park neighborhood of Austin where he is pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Texas. There he has studied with Dan Welcher, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Russell Pinkston, Donald Grantham, and the late opera composer Daniel Catán. He is an avid cyclist and enjoys vegetarian cooking and a good cup of tea.


05.16.16 (7pm), Monday

Presented by Minnesota Public Radio

Conspirare Restaurant Partner

Click for special event prix fixe menu from Conspirare’s Restaurant Partner

Concert Hall, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
345 Washington St., St. Paul, MN
TICKETS through Ordway Center
Presale for MPR members 10am March 29-30
Sales to the general public begin 10am March 31

05.17.16 (7:30pm), Tuesday

Boe Memorial Chapel, St. Olaf College
1520 St. Olaf Ave., Northfield, MN
FREE and open to the public
MORE at stolaf.edu
St. Olaf news blog 05.09.16

St. Olaf performance to be streamed and archived online

05.21.16 (8pm), Saturday

In affiliation with PODIUM (Choral Canada) 2016 Conference

Francis Winspear Centre for Music
4 Sir Winston Churchill Square NW, Edmonton, AB, CAN

05.23.16 (8pm), Monday

Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts, Bella Concert Hall
Mount Royal University
4825 Mount Royal Gate SW, Calgary, AB, CAN

TICKETS through Mount Royal University

Photo (upper right) of Mr. Paulus by Sharolyn Hagen Photography

Artists Performing
Conspirare Singers



“The Road Home” by Stephen Paulus (text by Michael Dennis Browne) performed by Conspirare. Melissa Givens, soprano. Available on the CD Requiem 2009 (2006)

From “De tu cama a la mía” (excerpt) from Poemas de Amor by Stephen Paulus, commissioned by Conspirare. World premiere from Conspirare Showcase Concert, American Masterpieces Festival, January 2007. Nancy Curtis, soprano. Available on the live CD Crossing the Divide: Exploring Influence and Finding Our Voice 2007

From “Mano a mano” (excerpt) from Poemas de Amor by Stephen Paulus, commissioned by Conspirare. World premiere from Conspirare Showcase Concert, American Masterpieces Festival, January 2007. Available on the live CD Crossing the Divide: Exploring Influence and Finding Our Voice 2007

Season Sustaining Underwriter

Season Sustaining Underwriter