Sterling to host 4th annual Composer Festival

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Sterling College choir has been working hard to prepare for the 4th annual Composer Festival which will take place Oct. 3–4, and will conclude with a concert on Oct. 4, held at the Sterling United Presbyterian Church at 7 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public. This year’s festival will feature the works of composer Craig Courtney. Of his many works, Courtney has arranged familiar songs such as “Come, Thou Fount,” “Silent Night,” “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art” to reflect his own unique style.

“I really enjoy the Composer Festival. It’s a good way to kick off the year. I try to get internationally recognized composers that many of my students will recognize, so it’s nice that after being familiar with the composers’ music, they get to put a face to the name,” said Dr. Brad Nix, associate professor of music.

This year, Courtney will be hosting lectures about the music composition process and the publishing industry. He will also spend time rehearsing with the choir for the concert on Friday night. The choir started rehearsing the music arranged by Courtney earlier this semester.

“My favorite part of the composer festival is being able to hear the stories behind the compositions. Every writer gets his or her motivation from different things, and each song has a story behind it. I also enjoy being able to sing the pieces exactly how the composer intended it to be. I think that is really awesome, because each director has his different take on different pieces and being able to perform these incredible songs exactly how Craig intended it to be is an honor,” said senior vocalist Ashley Hasart.

Courtney started playing the piano at three years old and the cello at eleven years old. Courtney combined his musical training to compose and publish over 200 choral octavos, nine vocal collections, six extended works for orchestra and choir, and a collection of piano solos.

Currently, Courtney works as the executive music editor for Beckenhorst Press, a sacred music publisher that was founded in 1972 by John Ness Beck. His composition of “Peace I Give to You” placed first in the 2003 John Ness Beck Foundation competition, and he has frequently received achievement awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

For more information about the 4th annual Composer Festival, contact Brad Nix at

Sterling College is a Christ-centered, four-year college located in Sterling, Kan., with a mission to develop creative and thoughtful leaders who understand a maturing Christian faith. For more information, visit

Cutline: Photo courtesy of Beckenhorst Press, Inc.