2021-22 Stephen Paulus Emerging Composers Competition premiere – Marybeth Kurnat

Marybeth Kurnat

True Concord’s 19th season features trademark programming of classic masterworks and premieres that are truly ‘Out of this World.’ As part of True Concord’s January 2023 program, Here I Am, we will premiere the winning composition of the 2021-22 Stephen Paulus Emerging Composers Competition.

After a blind selection process, the winning work selected from the many high quality submissions is I, Lover by Marybeth Kurnat. This year’s competition featured poems by women and minority writers: Elsa Gidlow, Myra Viola Wilds and Emily Pauline Johnson. The poems were selected in partnership with the University of Arizona Poetry Center. Kurnat’s I, Lover will be premiered alongside the premiere of Jocelyn Hagen’s “multimedia symphony,” Here I Am, Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate and music by or inspired by African Americans and Native Americans. 

Marybeth Kurnat is a music educator, vocalist and composer from Northern Illinois. She studied Music Education at Northern Illinois University and is active in several Chicago area choirs. She has been teaching in public schools since 2012, and has taught privately as a woodwind instructor since 2006. She is currently the Assistant Band Director at Huntley Middle School in DeKalb, IL. Marybeth has built her reputation as a singer on the foundation of her instrumental training as a jazz saxophonist, and her dynamic performing and teaching background is accompanied by a history in composing and arranging for choir and wind ensemble.


Elsa Gidlow

I shall never have any fear of love, 
Not of its depth nor its uttermost height,
Its exquisite pain and its terrible delight.
I shall never have any fear of love.

I shall never hesitate to go down
Into the fastness of its abyss
Nor shrink from the cruelty of its awful kiss.
I shall never have any fear of love.

Never shall I dread love’s strength
Nor any pain it might give.
Through all the years I may live
I shall never have any fear of love.

I shall never draw back from love
Through fear of its vast pain
But build joy of it and count it again.
I shall never have any fear of love.

I shall never tremble nor flinch
From love’s moulding touch:
I have loved too terribly and too much
Ever to have any fear of love.

Congratulations to the winners of past competitions!

2020-21: Ethan Soledad

Soledad’s composition, “When I Rise Up,” was performed by True Concord in April 2021 in “The Trailblazers,” a program celebrating women creators and game changers.

2019-20: Tom Peterson

Peterson’s composition, “Being Many, Seeming One,” was performed by True Concord in October 2019 in four concerts of music based on Shakespearean texts. His piece sets the text from Sonnet VIII (“Music to hear”), which is the insipiration for True Concord’s name.

2018-19: Martin Sedek

Sedek’s winning work, “The Beauty of Cosmic Things,” was performed by True Concord in November 2018, in three concerts of American music that honored veterans and commemorated the centenary of Armistice Day.

2017-18: Matthew Lyon Hazzard

Hazzard’s winning work, “Look Back on Time,” was performed by True Concord in March, 2018, in four concerts of American music based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson.