Schola Cantorum showcases 'Poetry to Music' work on video

Screengrab from Schola Cantorum’s “Gilded Land” concert video
Composer Eric Tuan, from left, Schola Cantorum artistic director Buddy James and Sophia Smith collaborated on setting Smith’s poem “Gilded Land” to music.

Mountain View High School student Sophia Smith won Schola Cantorum’s “Poetry to Music” contest for her entry “Gilded Land.”

The Mountain View-based community chorus invited Santa Clara County high school students to submit poems suitable for setting to music on the theme “The Natural Beauty of California.”

Schola Cantorum received 45 poems from 42 students who attend 10 local high schools. Two community judges helped select 10 finalists, and three earned cash prizes.

Smith’s “Gilded Land” proved to be the best suited for translating into a choral work for a large, four-voice choir and piano, according to Schola Cantorum representatives.

Smith said she was “blessed” to view California’s natural beauty from a very young age.

“Writing about the places that have shaped who I am was a total joy,” she added.

That joy, along with her adept imagery, inspired composer Eric Tuan to complete “Gilded Land” in just three days.

Schola Cantorum sponsors its “Poetry to Music” as part of its mission to “connect the community with the wonders of choral music through outstanding live performances, educational outreach programs and collaborations with local artists.”

“We view our ‘Poetry to Music’ program as an opportunity to forge artistic relationships with local students and schools, breathe life into the aspirations of local composers and budding poets, and foster the creation of significant art,” a Schola Cantorum rep said.

Schola Cantorum presented the world premiere of “Gilded Land” at its “Into the West” concert at the beginning of March. In the course of rehearsing and performing the piece, the group decided to add visual accompaniment and made a video.

“We hope that it will provide a ray or two of sunshine during this difficult time, and long after,” said Sharon Newton, chairwoman of the “Poetry to Music” contest committee.

To view the video, visit

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