Modern Classics: The Next Generation of Classical Composers

Modern Classics: The Next Generation of Classical Composers

In the classical music world, we often neglect the modern in favor of the past, not because of any inherent prejudice, it’s just human nature. For example, most people can recognize Beethoven or Mozart, but the nearer to the present, the lesser known the composer. In order for the art form to survive it’s in the best interests of the classical music community to listen to and support contemporary composers. That’s why we’re showcasing two major new works which have become modern classics: Ola Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass and Dan Forrest’s Requiem for the Living.

Ola Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass

Composer Ola Gjeilo, Portrait

Like many great composers before him, Gjeilo started learning music at a young age. At five years old he was already writing rudimentary compositions, even before he was able to read music. He studied under fellow Norwegian composer Wolfgang Plagge before studying composition at the Norwegian Academy of Music, and later Juilliard. Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass is orchestrated for strings and choir, and, like many modern choral works, blends secular and sacred themes to great effect. Although the names of the movements differ from tradition (e.g. “The Spheres” instead of “Kyrie,” “Sunrise” instead of “Gloria,” etc.) the work keeps the traditional form largely intact; Gjeilo uses it as a structure upon which to drape his modern choral textures.

Dan Forrest’s Requiem for the Living

Composer Dan Forrest

Like Gjeilo, Forrest has taken an ancient musical form and brought it into the 21st century. His five-movement work, Requiem for the Living, uses both liturgical and non-liturgical texts to create a new kind of requiem – one which attempts to both commemorate the dead and console the living. Forrest drew inspiration from a wide range of sources including images from NASA’s Hubble Telescope, which he references to demonstrate the massive scale and glory of the universe. In the end, Requiem for the Living serves the same purpose as its predecessors: to commemorate death and explore the complex emotions it evinces.

Both Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass and Forrest’s Requiem for the Living will be performed in Carnegie Hall on May 29, 2017 as part of MidAmerica Productions ongoing 34th concert season. David R. Thye will conduct Requiem for the Living, and William Skoog will conduct Sunrise Mass – both performances will feature several choirs from across the United States. To purchase tickets for this night of modern classics visit

Over the past 34 years, MidAmerica Productions has staged over 1300 concerts at historic venues all over the world. To have your ensemble perform in Carnegie Hall or internationally, call us at 212-239-0205 or visit

Comments are closed.