Short bio

 

Nancy Wertsch, a native of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is an accomplished pianist who studied at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. After vocal studies at the Music Academy of the West and the Yale University Summer Music School, she graduated from the all-scholarship Curtis Institute of Music as a voice major. She received a Fulbright Grant and 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. Since 1979, she has lived and worked in New York. She is married to Canadian-American organist Christopher Creaghan.

As a composer, Ms. Wertsch’s affinity for vocal music has inspired a large body of choral music, anthems and concert pieces. Her works are widely performed in churches and concerts, and have been heard at ACDA conventions and competitions. She has received commissions from such prestigious New York organizations as the Interchurch Center, the New York Treble Singers, the New York Concert Singers, First Presbyterian Church, and The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. Her work for triple chorus “Antiphon for God the Father” may be heard on the Dale Warland Singers CD “Bernstein and Britten”. She is published by Oxford University Press and G. Schirmer. Her recent commission “Hail, Holy Light” was premiered by the University of Utah Singers, awarded first place in the International Chamber Choir Competition in Germany, and is published by Carus-Verlag.

Ms. Wertsch’s mezzo-soprano voice is hailed as “an instrument of rich clarity, natural and effortless.” She has performed demanding twentieth-century vocal works, and has appeared on recordings on the Nonesuch, Koch International and Bridge Records label. She is a charter member of The New York Virtuoso Singers, and as a member of Voices of Ascension her voice is on nearly all of it’s CDs in repertoire ranging from Renaissance to Rorem.

Nancy conducting in Verbier, Switzerland

Long bio

Ms. 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 Music School, 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. In 1979, Ms. Wertsch moved to New York City where she has lived and worked since then.

As a composer, Ms. Wertsch has received commissions from such prestigious New York organizations as The Interchurch Center, New York Treble Singers, New York Concert Singers, Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, The Collegiate Chorale, Holy Trinity Bach Choir, and Temple Shaaray Tefila. Her recent commission Hail, Holy Light was premiered by the University of Utah Singers, awarded first place in the International Chamber Choir Competition in Germany, and published by Carus in 2011.

In 2006, The Canticum Novum Singers commissioned and premiered Ms. Wertsch’s Cradle Song, conducted by Harold Rosenbaum during its annual New York City Christmas concert. A setting of poetry by William Blake, it is written for SATB chorus, children's choir, and organ.

In January 2005, The Collegiate Chorale premiered Nancy Wertsch’s ’Tis Not Too Late for chorus and organ, commissioned for its Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Rememberance Concert at The Church of St. Mary The Virgin in New York City. The choral ensemble Voices of Ascension regularly sings her works, presenting her exquisite setting of William Blake’s The Lamb at its Christmas concert in 2000 and O Magnum Mysterium in 1999. Also, in 1999, the University Chorale of California State University, Stanislaus included Ms. Wertsch’s mystical Antiphon for God the Father and Laudate Dominum during its Hildegard Festival. She wrote The Seven Last Words of Christ for the First Presbyterian Church (1997), which performs the piece as part of its Good Friday afternoon liturgy. In addition, selections from her Sonnets to Orpheus were performed in the New York Singing Teachers Annual concert in New York City’s Merkin Hall (1995). Ms. Wertsch’s works have reached worldwide audiences, through tours by the Gregg Smith Singers and the Goodman Chamber Singers, and performances at colleges and churches across the United States.

Nancy in Utah with conductor Brady Allred and poet Sara Astle

The recipient of several awards, Ms. Wertsch was chosen as one of five composers to attend the composers’ week (2000), sponsored by the Dale Warland Singers, and her Antiphon for God the Father may be heard on the Dale Warland Singers CD entitled Bernstein and Britten. Antiphon was broadcast on the national public radio program, First Art. In addition, O Mistress Mine, from Ms. Wertsch’s Shakespeare Suite, won first prize in the Ithaca College Composition Competition (1997). The full Shakespeare Suite won First Place in the 2003 Athena Festival of Women in Music and was performed by the Murray State Concert Choir. Shakespeare Suite was later heard in a radio broadcast sung by Pro Arte Singers of Connecticut on First Art. It is published by G. Schirmer.

Ms. Wertsch’s love for American hymnody and spirituals has inspired her to compose arrangements of several beloved classics. Her rousing Black Gospel arrangement of the great American hymn Blessed Assurance, commissioned and premiered by the Riverside Church in 1985, was broadcast nationally the following year during the inaugural celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at Dr. King’s own Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where it was conducted by Dr. Wendell Whalum. The piece 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” in 1997 and included the piece on its special fortieth-anniversary CD that same year. Ms. Wertsch was further commissioned in 1993 by the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City to write a second a capella arrangement of Blessed Assurance. That virtuoso arrangement was performed at the 2006 ACDA conventions both in NYC and in St. Louis, and is recorded on St. Ignatius’s CD "Wondrous Love”. It was also featured by Voices of Ascension in its American Composers concert.

Ms. Wertsch’s arrangement of America, the Beautiful for soloist, chorus, and orchestra, has been performed for many special national occasions, including the Cleveland Orchestra’s 150th anniversary, an event at the White House in 1981 for President Jimmy Carter, and the post-September 11th interfaith Prayer for America service at Yankee Stadium, broadcast live on CNN. Her arrangement of the popular spiritual Ride On, King Jesus has been featured by many organizations nationwide, including the Westminster Choir under the direction of Joseph Flummerfelt, Voices of Ascension led by Dennis Keene, and the Susquehanna University Chorale in Pennsylvania conducted by Cyril M. Stretansky.Bard Music Festival with conductor James Bagwell and mezzo soprano Teresa Bucholz

Nancy Wertsch’s compositional background has made her a sought-after vocalist of contemporary music. She has performed such demanding twentieth-century vocal works as Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia, which she sang under conductor Robert Spano in 1998 for the Brooklyn Philharmonic. She recorded Andrew Imbrie’s Campion Songs for New World Records 1994, and appeared as soloist with the new music group Parnassus in Luigi Dallapiccola’s Parole di San Paolo. In 1999, Ms. Wertsch appeared as a mezzo-soprano soloist with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, under the baton of music director Robert Spano, in Stravinsky’s Mass. Her voice can be heard on recordings of works by Charles Wuorinen, Steve Reich, and Mary Jane Leach on the Nonesuch, Koch International, and Bridge Records labels. 

Ms. Wertsch’s vocal repertoire also extends beyond contemporary music. In 1999, she was heard at the Bard Festival as the third maiden in Walzer aus Wien by Johann Strauss, and the following night she performed Schoenberg’s challenging Die Glückliche Hand under the direction of conductor Leon Botstein. Ms. Wertsch has been soloist in the Holy Trinity Bach Cantata Series and the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space concert series at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, as well as with Musica Sacra, Gregg Smith Singers, Bronx Arts Ensemble, Russian Choral Society, Opera Memphis, Colorado Philharmonic, Little Orchestra Society, The Metropolitan Greek Chorale, and Steve Reich and Friends. She has been a regular member of Voices of Ascension since its inception in 1990, and her voice is on nearly all of its CDs, in repertoire ranging from Renaissance to Rorem.

As a result of her collaborations, as both composer and vocalist, Nancy Wertsch has emerged as one of the city’s most active professional choral contractors. She currently assembles both large and chamber professional choral ensembles for such New York organizations as The Collegiate Chorale, The New York Virtuoso Singers, The New York Concert Singers, and Philharmonic Orchestra of New Jersey. For the annual Bard Festival, Ms. Wertsch has gathered elite choral singers for celebrated festivals of the works of Elgar, Schoenberg, Beethoven, Debussy, Mahler, Shostakovich, Janacek, Copland, Elgar, and Prokofiev. She has also contracted choral groups for the American Composers Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Riverside Symphony, Koch International Records, Sony Records, Bridge Records, and New World Records, and for such eminent conductors as Robert Bass, Leon Botstein, Dennis Russell Davies, Matthew Lazar, John Nelson, Sir Roger Norrington, Harold Rosenbaum, Robert Spano, and Kent Tritle.

Her longtime collaboration with The Collegiate Chorale has led to an ongoing association with the Verbier Festival in Switzerland for which she assembled a group of professional singers who performed the Verdi Requiem in July 2005. Since then, Ms. Wertsch has contracted groups to perform a concert version of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony under conductor James Levine (2006) , and Schubert’s Mirjam’s Siegesgesang, conducted by Robert Bass. For the Festival in 2007, Ms. Wertsch brought together professional singers to perform in the Brahms Requiem and Mozart Requiem under the baton of Manfred Honeck, and Carmina Burana, conducted by Robert Bass. Also for The Collegiate Chorale in 2007, she contracted and rehearsed the choral singers for the American premiere of Not the Messiah by Eric Idle and John Du Prez at the Caramoor Festival for conductor Peter Oundjian. In 2009 she contracted and rehearsed the chorale singers for the live sound track performance of "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" at Radio City Music Hall. In July 2008 & 2012, Ms. Wertsch contracted the professional singers performing with The Collegiate Chorale on tour with the Israel Philharmonic in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa, under the baton of Zubin Mehta. Her association continues with concerts scheduled through 2014-15 including performances at the Verbier Music Festival, Bard Summerscape, and the Bard Music Festival.

Ms. Wertsch is married to Canadian-American organist Christopher Creaghan.

Sicut Cervus and Shakespeare Suite by Nancy Wertsch, published by G. Schirmer, are distributed by Hal Leonard. Her arrangements of Blessed Assurance, Didn' My Lord Deliver Daniel, and Ride On, King Jesus are published by Oxford University Press. Hail, Holy Light is published by Carus-Verlag. More information is available on this website here, and are available for purchase from all music retailers. 

All other titles found on this site are available from Art of Sound Music.

after the concert, Verbier, Switzerland

"...With Peace In Mind"

 

 

       

Sample Tracks

NEW! Summer 2014

 

The Beatitudes SATB, organ

 

O Nata Lux SATB, a cappella

 

Songs of the Spirit  Four SATB a cappella settings of poems by William Blake.

Music When Soft Voices Die Two-part treble duet with piano accompaniment, poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Londonderry Air, arranged for organ solo.