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Composer

Nancy Wertsch ComposerNancy Wertsch, a native of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, began her musical life as an accomplished pianist, studying while still in high school at the Aspen Music School with Edith Oppens and Leonard Shure; and at the University of Wisconsin in Madison with Gunnar Johansen. After vocal studies at the Music Academy of the West and the Yale University Summer School of Music & Art, she graduated from the all-scholarship Curtis Institute of Music as a voice major under the tutelage of the eminent French baritone Martial Singher. As a recipient of a Fulbright Grant, Ms. Wertsch attended the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin, Germany, for two years.

Upon returning to the United States, she served on the voice faculty at the University of Memphis. It was there as a member of the new music group "Ominbus" Nancy discovered her affinity and love of composing for the voice, and for whom she wrote The Last Invocation for soprano, flute, piano, and percussion, which Omnibus performed extensively on tour, to great acclaim.

As a composer, Nancy has received commissions from various prestigious New York organizations, including The Interchurch Center, New York Treble Singers, New York Concert Singers, Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, The Riverside Church, The Collegiate Chorale, Holy Trinity Bach Choir, and Temple Shaaray Tefila.

Various commissions and performance highlights include:

  • Hail, Holy Light for SATB double choir, premiered by the University of Utah Singers, conducted by Dr. Brady Allred. Awarded first place in the International Chamber Choir Competition in Germany, and published by Carus.
  • Cradle Song, commissioned by The Canticum Novum Singers, conducted by Harold Rosenbaum for their annual New York City Christmas concert. A setting of poetry by William Blake, it is written for SATB chorus, children's choir, and organ.
  • ’Tis Not Too Late, for treble chorus and organ, commissioned by The Collegiate Chorale for its Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Rememberance Concert at The Church of St. Mary The Virgin in New York City. 
  • Nancy’s settings of Hildegard of Bingen’s Antiphon for God the Father and Laudate Dominum performed during the Hildegard Festival hosted by The University Chorale of California State University, Stanislaus.
  • The Seven Last Words of Christ commissioned by the First Presbyterian Church in New York City, performed as part of its Good Friday afternoon liturgy. 
  • Selections from Sonnets to Orpheus performed during the New York Singing Teachers Annual concert in New York City’s Merkin Hall.
  • Laudate Dominum for double chorus (SATB traditional chorus and SAB gospel chorus) and organ, commissioned for The Interchurch Center’s 35th anniversary.
  • Her rousing Black Gospel arrangement of the great American hymn Blessed Assurance, for chorus, soprano soloist, piano and organ, was commissioned and premiered by The Riverside Church, and subsequently broadcast nationally the following year during the inaugural celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at Dr. King’s own Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where it was conducted by Dr. Wendell Whalum. The arrangement has since become standard repertoire for that holiday. The Ocean Grove Choral Festival in New Jersey counted Blessed Assurance among its “Top Ten Anthems of Festival History” and included the piece on its special fortieth-anniversary CD that same year.
  • O Swallow (Tennyson) for a cappella chorus, commissioned by The Dale Warland Singers for their annual composers’ week. 
  • Walking the Melt, SATB and strings, commissioned for the 50th Anniversary of the Riverdale Chorale Society, New York City, John Lettieri, Director. Poetry by Maggie Schwed, former choral member.

Commissioning
Considering commissioning a new work for a specific text or occasion? Nancy would enjoy hearing from you!

Nancy tailors her commissions to each individual ensemble’s strengths and interests, which has led to the creation of a large and diverse body of works in a range of styles and complexity. Ensembles typically enjoy the voice leading and vocalism of Nancy’s works, an outgrowth of Nancy’s own experience as a professional ensemble singer. Her keyboard accompaniments are equally enjoyable to play, a result of her education as a concert pianist. While her body of work is predominantly vocal, she is also experienced writing for strings, brass ensembles, and other instrumental combinations.  

Equally at home writing sacred and concert music, commissioning possiblities include: responsorial psalms, arrangements of american tunes and spirituals, children’s choirs and church anthems; choral concert suites; double and triple choir works with complex and advanced harmonies. Nancy writes within the bounds of tonality while exploring new sonorities and progressions, and always in service of the text. 


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