This October 13-15, the first shows of True Concord’s 20th Anniversary 23-24 Season, we are proud to present the World Premiere of the winning work resulting from our annual Stephen Paulus Emerging Composers Competition and our Inaugural Poetry Competition!

This year, the Composition Competition ran alongside True Concord’s first-ever Poetry Competition, held in partnership with the UA Poetry Center. The winning artists are: composer Nicholas Ryan Kelly, who will set the winning poem, A World that Shimmers by Janet Ruth, to music.

A World That Shimmers by Janet Ruth

Even today this Earth of loss and pain
still sings the regal music of the spheres.
Her children join together, raise refrains
in harmonies that stand against our fears.
A symphony. We’re clad in scales and wings,
in branches, fur and skin of every hue.
As one, we praise diversity and sing,
build bridges over the abyss. A new
world shimmers—web of life catches what’s bright
on every strand. We celebrate our places,
as instruments who play Earth’s ode to light—
Her music holds us in a wild embrace—
the notes, rhythms and melodies that fling
the darkness from our lives, the more we sing.


Nicholas Ryan Kelly, composer

Commended by the Vancouver Sun for his “sophisticated work of such immediate, glittery appeal” and called “a rising star in the constellation of Canadian composers” by Oregon Arts Watch, Nicholas Ryan Kelly writes choral, wind ensemble, and chamber music infused with a sense of cinematic drama.

His choral compositions have been performed and released on CD by many of Canada’s top choirs, including Chor Leoni, Da Capo Chamber Choir, Elektra Women’s Choir, Pro Coro Canada, Vancouver Chamber Choir, and the National Youth Choir of Canada. International performances include the Singapore Youth Choir, the Capital Hearings (Washington, DC), the West Point Band of the US Army, and many others. Since 2015, he has received over 20 national and international composition prizes, including the Howard Cable Prize from the Canadian Band Association and the Edwin Fissinger Choral Composition Prize.

Originally from the northeastern USA, Nick studied composition at Ithaca College in New York (B.M.) and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (M.Mus.) He lives in British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. His choral scores are published with Pavane Publishing, Cypress Choral Music, Renforth Music, and Alliance Music. He also self-publishes through Lone Moose Music, distributed by MusicSpoke.

Janet Ruth, poet

Janet Ruth grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania, lived for almost 20 years in Washington, D.C. and Virginia, five years in Colorado, and has called Corrales, New Mexico home since 2001. As a child she enjoyed cross-country family camping trips, watching bird feeders with her mom, and going small game hunting with her dad (she was the “dog”!). Much of her life has revolved around birds. This includes her doctoral dissertation at George Mason University and her subsequent field research career with U.S. Geological Survey, publishing multiple scientific papers about bird migration, breeding ecology and habitat preferences. Much of that research was conducted in the desert grasslands of southeastern Arizona. She has retired, but often thinks of her poems as embodying the observations of the world around her that wouldn’t fit into scientific papers. She and her husband enjoy international birding/photography/writing trips around the world. She writes daily journals during these trips and mines them for poems and stories.

Janet’s poetry is inspired by her connections with the natural world—all the bits and pieces, feathers and butterfly wings, pollen grains and snowflakes, all the magical, unexpected moments when she’s paying attention. She has recent poems in Fixed and Free Quarterly, Wood Cat Review, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Ekphrastic Review, TulipTree Review, and in anthologies including Where Flowers Bloom: poems and essays of strength, hope and resilience (Red Penguin Books, 2022) – dedicated to the people of Ukraine, and The Strategic Poet: honing the craft (Terrapin Books, 2021). Her sonnet, “Invisible Before Us Untouched and Still Possible,” won a Laureate’s Choice Award in the 2022 Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest. Her first book, Feathered Dreams: celebrating birds in poems, stories & images (Mercury HeartLink, 2018) was a finalist for the 2018 NM/AZ Book Awards and won the 2019 New Mexico Press Women Communication Award for a book of poetry. She also self-published a chapbook with sister-poets Faith Kaltenbach and Andi Penner, What is the Boiling Point of Clouds? (2019). She is a member of the New Mexico State Poetry Society (NMSPS) and is currently the Chair of the NMSPS Albuquerque Chapter. You can find more of her work at redstartsandravens.com/janets-poetry/

Congratulations to the winners of past competitions!

2021-22: Marybeth Kurnat

Kurnat’s composition, “I, Lover,” was premiered by True Concord in January 2023 alongside Jocelyn Hagen’s “multimedia symphony,” Here I Am, Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate and music by or inspired by African Americans and Native Americans.

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.