We are delighted to announce the two finalists of the Guelph Chamber Choir 2024 Emerging Choral Composer Competition!

The first place winner is Nicholas Kelly for his composition “The Colour of Earth,” with lyrics by Wendy Jean MacLean. Nicholas first decided to pursue composition to compose film scores. However, he discovered that because of his interest in melody and poetry, this urge to tell stories through music was better suited to choral music.

Commended by the Vancouver Sun for his “sophisticated work of such immediate, glittery appeal” and called “a rising star in the constellation of Canadian composers” by Oregon Arts Watch, Nicholas Ryan Kelly writes choral, wind ensemble, and chamber music with a sense of cinematic drama.

His choral compositions have recently been performed by many of Canada’s top choirs, including Chor Leoni, Da Capo Chamber Choir, Elektra Women’s Choir, Pro Coro Canada, Vancouver Chamber Choir, and the National Youth Choir of Canada. International performances include the Singapore Youth Choir, the Capital Hearings (Washington, DC), the West Point Band of the US Army, and many others. Since 2016, he has received over 20 national and international composition prizes, including the Howard Cable Prize from the Canadian Band Association and the Edwin Fissinger Choral Composition Prize.

The honourable mention goes to Clark Lawlor his composition “The Close of Day.”

Clark is a software engineer and award-winning choral composer based in the Salt Lake City, Utah area. His recent accolades include First Prize in the 2023 International Contest of Choral Composition University of Alcala (Spain); First Prize in the 2023 Utah ACDA Choral Composing Competition; winner of the 2023 NDSU Fissinger Choral Composition Prize (professional division); and finalist in the 2023 Ensemble Altera Composition Competition.

Despite his recent successes, Clark is somewhat of a newcomer to the choral composing scene. Although he studied music at the University of Utah in the early 2000s, Clark dropped out before earning a degree to pursue a more “responsible” career.

With the pressures of attending business school, building a career, and supporting a growing family, Clark took a long hiatus from music. He had all but lost his dream of a music career until 2022 when, after over 15 years away, Clark decided to join a local choir, and shortly thereafter began composing choral music again.

His first work, a setting of the Swedish text “I denna ljuva sommartid,” has seen surprising success on YouTube and in sheet music sales. Since 2022 Clark has written over a dozen choral compositions and has been the recipient of multiple awards. He recently signed on with a promising new publisher, Endeavor Music, and is excited to be a part of their growth.

We extend our sincerest appreciation to all the participants of this competition. Your contribution has enriched the competition and inspired all who had the pleasure of experiencing your work.

Join us at our final season concert “Language of Stars” on April 14, 2024 to experience the wonder of these compositions.