High school musician to debut commissioned work at Camden church service

Camden Regional Hills High School senior and musician Sarah Palermo will debut “All My Soul” on Sunday, May 22, at First Congregational Church in Camden. The church commissioned Palermo to write the work.
Photo by Marti Stone
Camden Regional Hills High School senior and musician Sarah Palermo will debut “All My Soul” on Sunday, May 22, at First Congregational Church in Camden. The church commissioned Palermo to write the work.
Posted May 13, 2011, at 3:45 p.m.

CAMDEN — Sarah Palermo is a pianist, flutist, singer and songwriter. She now can add “commissioned composer” to her growing music resume. The 18-year-old senior at Camden Hills Regional High School was asked last summer to write a choral piece for the First Congregational Church of Camden.

The church’s Sanctuary Choir will debut her work, “All My Soul,” during the morning worship service Sunday, May 22. The piece is written for soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices with organ accompaniment.

Palermo has studied piano for 14 years, plays first-chair flute in the Camden Hills Regional High School Concert Band, and sings in the CHRHS Chamber Singers, Women’s Choir and Chorale. She has written a number of contemporary songs for voice and piano, and most recently she has become interested in writing choral music.

In 2010, Palermo wrote an arrangement of the Beatles’ “Across the Universe” for the CHRHS Women’s Choir, and she has composed two pieces for the CHRHS Chambers Singers, “Your Farewell,” for the Class of 2010 Baccalaureate Service, and “Remarkable (The Time is Now),” which will be performed later this year.

“I always try to put a lot of care into writing lyrics,” Palermo said of her approach to writing the church’s commission. “Originally, I intended to use a psalm or something from the public domain for the text of this piece, but I couldn’t find any that really spoke to me.

“As with the other choral pieces I’ve written, I started at least three or four different pieces based on various melodies and texts until, one day, the overlapping voices at the beginning of the verses came into my head, singing a chorus of, ‘Oh, my Lord.’ Once I get inspiration like that, the song tends to write itself.”

Palermo credits the music she hears in church, including hymns and psalm settings, as her greatest inspirations for writing this piece.

Tom Mueller, organist and director of music at the First Congregational Church, requested the commission from Palermo after hearing her 2010 Baccalaureate piece performed last June.

“Knowing how important music is to Sarah, I wanted to offer her an opportunity to add a commissioned choral work to her resume before she closes out her high school career,” Mueller said. “I’m very happy that she accepted the challenge, and I know that our Sanctuary Choir members are looking forward to giving the piece a voice this Sunday.”

The Sanctuary Choir is a nonauditioned, mixed ensemble of approximately two dozen adult singers. Under the direction of Mueller, the Sanctuary Choir participates in worship every Sunday from September to May. The choir’s repertoire contains pieces from the Renaissance to the present.

Palermo is an honored high school musician, having been selected as a District III Chorus member and a Maine All-State Chorus member for the past three years. She also participated in the District III Band.

In March, she attended the Music Educators National Conference All-Eastern Chorus in Baltimore. Last June, she was voted CHRHS Visual and Performing Arts Student of the Month.

This fall, Palermo will attending Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, N.J., to major in music education. Ultimately, she would like to earn master’s and doctoral degrees so she can teach music theory at the college level.

The First Congregational Church of Camden invites anyone who wishes to hear “All My Soul” when it is sung Sunday, May 22, to attend the regular worship service, which begins at 9:30 a.m. For more information, call the church office at 236-4821.

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