Brigham ’16 Wins Musical Composition Contest

Grace Brigham ’16 won a Young and Emerging Composer Competition last week with an original musical piece about female scientists — a work she wrote specifically in the hopes that it would be sung by a group of men.
Now Brigham’s composition will indeed be performed by the all-male vocal group, Cantus, later this month at Brigham’s college and this fall and winter on tour across the country.

The competition served to highlight Cantus’s 25th anniversary; among the criteria was that submissions must be written for tenor and bass voices. The opportunity intrigued Brigham, a senior at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

“In general, most pieces I come across that deal with women’s rights tend to be scored for soprano and alto voices. I wanted to present something different and encourage men to join in the fight for gender equality,” Brigham said about her work, “Discoveries.”

“I … wanted to write a piece that highlighted female scientists from the 18th and 19th centuries, when being a woman in science was obviously even harder than it is today. My aim is to both inform listeners of these scientists’ impressive accomplishments and inspire young girls to feel comfortable and confident pursuing any career they desire,” Brigham wrote in her entry submission. The composition includes quotes from such scientists as Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace, and Florence Nightingale.

Brigham told the judges that the lessons she learned at NCS provided another inspiration for the piece: “From fourth grade through senior year, this school encouraged my classmates and me to have the confidence to pursue careers largely dominated by men.”

Brigham studies composition, plays violin, and sings in ensembles across campus at St. Olaf. At NCS, she sang for five years with the Washington National Cathedral’s Choir of Men and Girls. The choristers play a key role in several Cathedral worship services throughout the week, and they participate in significant national events, such as presidential funerals.

Brigham will graduate from St. Olaf next spring and plans to pursue graduate school in choral composition.

As part of Brigham’s award, Cantus will perform “Discoveries” on Sept. 19 at St. Olaf College. It will also include the work in its repertoire during its fall and winter national tour, and Brigham will receive a $1,000 cash prize.

Congratulations on this achievement, Grace. We’re thrilled to hear how NCS inspired you!
    • Grace Brigham '16