Hiram College


From Visby, Sweden to Fairbanks, Alaska, one Hiram College professor is finding musical inspiration throughout a span of nearly 4,000 miles.

Associate Professor of Music Dawn Sonntag was selected for the second time as a composer-in-residence in Visby, Sweden, at the Visby International Centre for Composers, (VICC) a work and meeting place for composers.

Part of the International Society for Contemporary Music and supported by the Swedish government, the VICC annually hosts approximately 50 composers from around the world with the goal of promoting contemporary music.

“It is an honor to be chosen for this residency; many talented composers from around the world have been resident composers at the VICC,” said Sonntag.

Throughout her three-week residency, which concludes on June 22, Sonntag said she has been working on several different compositions for a variety of different instruments. She has also been reading a lot of poetry, including work from Hiram College Assistant Professor of English, Mary Quade, to get inspiration for her vocal and choral pieces. But poetry hasn’t been her only source of inspiration.

“For me, taking bike-rides along the sea, hiking up the hills next to the city wall, or walking through the city and taking in the architecture and the culture is just as important for my composing as working at the computer,” said Sonntag.

July 8-21 Sonntag will travel to Alaska to take part in a second residency program.

Giving composers an opportunity to draw inspiration from nature, the “Composing in the Wilderness” program from Alaska Geographic will take Sonntag to Denali National Park and the Yukon-Charley preserve where she will hike many miles throughout the trip, spend an intensive four days creating original music scores and then return to Fairbanks where her composition will be performed at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival along with the pieces created by other composers on the trip.

“I am most looking forward to being immersed in the fresh air and natural beauty of Alaska, working hard physically, and being completely unplugged for four days.  This has a tremendously positive effect on creativity. The quiet is so intensely restful; one can really concentrate,” Sonntag concluded.