Ohio Wesleyan senior Justin Giarrusso is finishing up his studies at OWU with a flourish, as he recently was selected as one of three winners in the Manhattan Choral Ensemble’s Choral Composition Contest. The Ensemble will perform Giarrusso’s winning composition, “Central Park at Dusk,” on May 18 in Mary Flagler Cary Hall at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Manhattan. His work for a capella mixed choir sets the poem of the same name by Sara Teasdale to music—a poem that Giarrusso read and knew immediately that it was perfect for his Manhattan movement.
“I set it to music while revising at the same time, which was a process that took three weeks,” says the music theory major, whose long-time interest in music composition blossomed at OWU. His work with music professors Jennifer Jolley and Clint Needham have, says Giarrusso, “been able to act as a springboard for my interest in composition become my profession.” Working on the composition since January as he took instruction from Jolley, his three-minute long choral piece is part of an “in progress cycle” of choral movements about the five boroughs of New York City, called “Five Boroughs, One City.”Jolley is happy that her student’s first a capella work in being premiered in New York City and adds that through his choral piece, Giarrusso is artistically representing his identity as a person having family ties to New York.
“He self-identifies as being a ‘New Yorker at heart,’ “she says, adding that Giarrusso is artistically returning to the city by presenting his music that celebrates the history and childhood memories of New York City in the place that inspired him.
“It was a tremendous honor to have my composition selected for performance,” Giarrusso says. “In fact, it took a minute for it to sink in that I actually had won!”
For all who are interested, there will be a preview performance of Justin’s work and another movement of the cycle at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23 in Jemison Auditorium of Sanborn Hall.