Press Releases Index

For Immediate Release
March 20, 2003
CONTACT: Jette Englund
Office of University Relations
908-737-NEWS (6397)

Ars Vitalis: New Jersey New Music Forum
Brings Prominent Area Composers to Kean University

UNION, N.J. – Now in its fifth year, Kean University’s Ars Vitalis concert will be held on Wednesday, April 9, at 8 p.m. in Wilkins Theatre, 1000 Morris Avenue, Union, N.J. The program will feature a diverse selection of chamber music, including two world premieres, and a pre-concert discussion with the guest composers beginning at 7:15 p.m. Admission is free.

The composers are Fred Cohen, Matthew Halper, Trent Johnson, Paul Somers and Randall Svane.

On the program are Rhymes for Soprano and Piano by Svane; the world premiere of Cohen’s Quadrivium; Halper’s The Tempest; Johnson’s Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano; and the world premiere of Somers’ Meditations on a Theme of Eric Routley.

Cohen, chair of the Department of Music at Montclair State University, has received commissions and performances by such organizations as the Richmond Symphony and the Cleveland Chamber Orchestra. His works have been performed throughout the United States, in South America and in Eastern Europe. He has received prizes, grants and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer Foundation, ASCAP and the Virginia Council for the Arts.

Halper, professor of music at Kean University and artistic director of Ars Vitalis, is a recent recipient of a NJSCA Individual Artist Fellowship. His orchestral tone-poem Stalin’s Wake: Homage to Shostakovich received a Whitaker Reading Prize from the American Composers Orchestra. His String Quartet was awarded the Walsum Prize and was premiered by principal members of the National Symphony. His works have been invited to be performed in many professional forums including conferences of the Society of Composers and the College of Music Society.

Johnson, Music Director of the Oratorio Singers and Orchestra of Westfield, has received performances and commissions by noteworthy ensembles such as The Halcyon Trio and the New York String Society. He is the recipient of several Meet the Composer grants. Recent compositions include Concerto for Trumpet, the cantata, The Paschal Lamb, Visions for organ, and Outback for didgeridoo and piano. An accomplished organist, he has performed with members of the American Brass Quintet and Baltimore Symphony, and will soon record the complete organ works of Pulitzer Prize-winner George Walker.

Somers has received acclaim in a variety of roles: as conductor, composer, harpsichordist and director of the Classical New Jersey Society. His compositional output includes the film score to the American International release Without Getting, incidental music to the New jersey Shakespeare Festival production of Macbeth, and a full-length ballet A Pine Barrens Legend. The Summit Chorale commissioned several works from him including Noe, Pastores for three antiphonal choirs.

Svane, head of the Montclair (N.J.) Kimberly Academy Music Program, has received performances by such leading orchestras and ensembles as the New York Philharmonic Ensembles, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Borromeo String Quartet, Minneapolis Artists Ensemble and Colonial Symphony. Grants and awards include the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Astral Foundation, ASCAP, American Music Center, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Meet the Composer. Upcoming performances include the April 2004 premiere of his Violin Concerto by New York Philharmonic Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow.

Invited performers include The Halcyon Trio, Nadine Robinson, soprano; Mark Hyczko, piano; Susan Palma-Nidel, flute; Andrew Wagonner, violin; Carrie Stinson, cello; David Witten, piano; and the Kean University Affiliate Artist Ensemble.

For more information about Ars Vitalis, please visit the Web site at or e-mail