Ramona Luengen (b.1960) is a well-respected Canadian composer, choral conductor and educator. She has composed extensively in the choral genre and her works have been performed by both amateur and professional choirs in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Performances of her music have been broadcast on CBC, BBC, WDR (Germany), WKRP (USA) and radio stations in Denmark, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.
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Luengen’s opera for young audiences, based on Joy Kogawa’s novel Naomi’s Road, has received over 350 performances in communities and schools in both Canada and Washington State. Her Stabat Mater was awarded Outstanding Choral Composition of the Year and Outstanding Choral Event of the Year by the Canadian Association of Choral Conductors and Composition of the Year by Vancouver New Music. Her Piano Concerto was premièred to critical acclaim.
A former instructor at both the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University for over twelve years, Luengen taught courses in theory, composition, contemporary music performance and 20th-century music appreciation.
I came to writing music later in life (3rd year university) and thus completely bypassed those critical early years when one’s persona as a ‘composer’ is prepared and groomed. Instead, composing seemed to be a natural offshoot of my musical background, training and interests. I had sung in choirs from a very early age, so it was perhaps inevitable that I would gravitate towards writing choral music, a genre with which I was intimately familiar. I also found it a profound privilege to be involved in what I deemed a double art form – music and poetry. Not only was there opportunity to be moved by the expressivity of music per se, but one could reach to yet another level of deeper meaning and sensibility with the addition of text.
There are many things I have been taught by choirs. First and foremost, they are life-changing and mind-altering. Surely there is no other group activity that creates such community, such visible proof that we are certainly greater than the sum of our parts. Where else are we reminded that our strength – and our rewards – lie in working together as one? Where else can a truly collective attempt open doors to remarkable music-making that fills our individual hearts? And where else can we explore and create together a voice for humanity’s greatest longings and loves?
Music can be beautiful and transcending. It should be moving. But is should also challenge us to see and hear the world in new ways.
For those of you who have performed my choral compositions, thank you for allowing me to be a small part in this most meaningful of art forms.