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Kilstofte’s a cappella compositions earn vocal acclaim

The Furman Singers perform during a 2017 concert.

Last updated December 2, 2022

By Jerry Salley '90, Senior Writer

Two compositions by Mark Kilstofte, composer in residence in Furman’s Department of Music, are receiving recognition in concert and on the festival circuit.

Mark Kilstofte, Furman University composer in residence

His a cappella choral piece “Enfold Us” will be performed during two holiday concerts by Bel Canto, a vocal chamber ensemble in Napa Valley, California. “Enfold Us” was originally commissioned for a 2021 performance to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Petri Sångare, a vocal choir in Malmö, Sweden. Due to the pandemic, the piece had its world premiere from a commercial parking garage in Malmö, and the performance is still available to watch online.

The text of “Enfold Us,” written by composer Leslie Bassett, Kilstofte’s former teacher at the University of Michigan, “offers refuge and rootedness in the midst of uncertain times,” Kilstofte said. “I confess that it reawakened something in me that had been dormant for too long a time.”

The Bel Canto performances are scheduled for its two “Sing We Now of Christmas” concerts on Friday, Dec. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 4.

Another a capella piece by Kilstofte, “To Music,” recently received Honorable Mention in the RED NOTE New Music Festival Composition Competition at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. “To Music” was commissioned for the Furman Singers’ Spring 2009 tour by conductor Bingham Vick Jr., professor emeritus of music.

The text of “To Music,” by Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, “emphasizes stasis, timelessness, the infinite – music that is in us and of us, but also beyond us – and honors a conductor [Vick] whose career has been the embodiment of the very art he serves so nobly,” said Kilstofte.

In a New York Times review of a 2011 performance, critic Allan Kozinn described “To Music” as “a piece couched in gentle, strikingly beautiful chordal textures.”

“I’m thrilled that the work is beginning to attract the attention of organizations like the RED NOTE New Music Festival,” Kilstofte said.

Last updated December 2, 2022
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