Comissioned Works Series

This exciting Commissioned Works Series features talented composers from across the nation who will be composing pieces to premiere at the Skaneateles Festival.

Thanks to the generous support from Nancy Kramer and Doug Sutherland through their Creative Endeavors Fund, the Festival will, on a biennial basis, host a Composer-in-Residence program and, on alternating years, premiere Festival-Commissioned works by those composers.

Works commissioned through this fund include:

2022-NAILAH NOMBEKO:  Fortitude

Nailah writes:

This work captures Harriet Tubman’s harrowing experience as a slave and her deep unrelenting faith in God that gave her the strength to not only escape slavery but to free many others.
-Nailah Nombeko

2021 – CAROLINE SHAW:  The Evergreen 

Caroline writes:
One day in January 2020, I took a walk in an evergreen forest on Swiikw (Galiano Island), British Columbia, Canada. I found myself slowing down. My steps were shorter, less frequent. I stopped trying to get to my destination with any real intention or speed. Eventually I stopped moving altogether. I looked, and listened, and felt and smelled and breathed. Like a thousand creatures before me there, some of them also human, I paused and wondered and thought, “There’s wisdom in these trees.” It’s been said before, in ways more eloquent and complex than my little story here. Still. This piece, The Evergreen, is my offering to one particular tree in that forest. I started writing music years ago as gifts for people (whether they knew it or not), or as companions to an idea or a piece of art or food. It was a way of having someone hold my hand through the writing process, a kind of invisible friend to guide me through. This tree is towering, craggy, warped and knotted, wrapped in soft green, standing silently in a small clearing where the shadows are more generous to the narrow streams of sunlight that try to speak up in late morning. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure that it’s still alive, or that it’s not actually an ancient deciduous tree that has tacitly agreed to be covered in moss. But still, it feels like an evergreen friend, and so I wrote some music for it and have called it The Evergreen, for the soft moss that covers it, for its strong stem that reaches up, for the gentle chaos of dripping water that surrounds it, and for the roots below, ever seeking and nourishing and building.
– Caroline Shaw

2019  – PIERRE JALBERT: Luminous Flux

In commemoration of the Festival’s 40th Anniversary Season.

Pierre writes:
“The title Luminous Flux comes from my first impression of seeing the lake in Skaneateles and how the sunlight shimmers off the lake in summer. It’s also about the mysterious physical nature of light itself, as both a wave (1st movement) and a particle (2nd movement). The work is in two movements of contrasting character, the first, slow and lyrical, and the second, fast and rhythmic. The first movement is anchored by a reappearing lyrical sonority made up of seven disparate pitches: a Luminous Flux chord. This chord is heard toward the beginning and end of the movement as well as at critical moments. “The movement features shimmering harmonics in the strings and lyrical lines played by the solo cello and oboe. Bowed percussion instruments (vibraphone and crotales), along with air sounds from the winds, add to the atmosphere. Marked “Driving and dramatic”, the second movement consists of constant rhythmic motion in the strings, blending into clusters at first, then breaking out into various registers and punctuated by reverberant interruptions in the woodwinds.”
– Pierre Jalbert

“Massachusetts may have Tanglewood, but central New York has the Skaneateles Festival.”

The Boston Globe

We hope to see you soon!