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Our Staff Composer

Composer, violinist, and poet Patricia Van Ness (1951) draws upon elements of medieval and Renaissance music to create a signature voice that has been hailed by musicians, audiences and critics. She has been called a modern-day Hildegard von Bingen, with her ability to compose music possessing "tremendous depth and beauty," "both ancient and new." Through all her compositions, musical and written, she professes to continue an ongoing exploration into the interactions of beauty and the divine, and their bearing on the human spirit.

Patricia Van Ness's work has had an impact that is both local and global. She is Staff Composer for First Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts and has been an invited lecturer at Harvard University and Boston University. Her music has been commissioned, premiered, and performed by numerous musicians and organizations across the world, including The King's Singers (UK), the Heidelberg New Music Festival Ensemble, Mannerquartett Schnittpunktvokal in Austria, the Celebrity Series in Boston, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Peter Sykes, Chanticleer, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Boston Ballet, Coro Allegro, and the Choirs of Harvard University. Her work has been presented at the Vatican and the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy; the Musica Sacra Festival in Maastricht, Holland; and in halls and cathedrals throughout Italy, Austria, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Sweden, Latin America, Canada, Russia and the United States. She has been awarded residencies at the Boston Athenaeum, with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, and with Coro Allegro.

Ms. Van Ness has received numerous awards and grants, including the 2011 Daniel Pinkham Award from Coro Allegro (David Hodgkins, Artistic Director) for "Outstanding Contributions to Classical Music and the GLBT Community." In addition, Europe's prestigious 2005 Echo Klassik Prize was awarded to the ensemble Tapestry (Laurie Monahan, Director) for their recording "Sapphire Night" with music by Hildegard von Bingen and and a nine-movement work by Patricia Van Ness.

Ms. Van Ness's music may be found on iTunes; The King's Singers' From the Heart; Chanticleer's CD Sound in Spirit recorded on Warner Classics; on Telarc International Recordings (Angeli and The Fourth River); on MDG Classics (Sapphire Night); on all Coro Allegro's releases; on the 2007 and 2012 CD releases by The Harvard University Choir (Edward Elwyn Jones, Choirmaster); Advent and Other Music of the Liturgical Year, released by the composer, and on Cappella Clausura's CD (Amelia LeClair, Artistic Director), Passionately Unconventional: Madrigals and Motets by Nuns of Bologna, Moderna, and Ferrara . Organist Carson Cooman will be releasing a CD for solo organ with her Pastoral Suite / Seven Prayers in 2012.

Ms. Van Ness is a member of American Composers Forum, ASCAP, and the International Alliance for Women in Music. She serves on the Musical Advisory Board of Cappella Clausura (Amelia LeClair, Artistic Director) and is a former member of the Board of the Cambridge Society for Early Music. She lives on the coast of Maine with her husband, Peter Marks.

Please visit Patricia Van Ness's website:

To hear more audio samples of Patricia Van Ness's work performed at First Church in Cambridge, please visit our Listen (Music Clips) page.

January 29, 2012 World Premier of "Doxology Cantata' composed by Patricia Van Ness in celebration of the 375th Anniversary of First Church (Congregational) in Cambridge. Featuring the singing group Tapestry and the First Church Choir. Conducted by Peter Sykes.

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