Merit School of Music

Vocalist Gwen Maramba Finds a Calling in Composing

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]For many people, the last two years have presented new opportunities and provided space to reimagine their dreams and goals. This rings true for Merit School of Music’s Voice alum, Gwen Maramba.

After graduating from Maine South High School in Park Ridge, IL and Merit’s Conservatory in 2021, Gwen has been pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Beyond her academics, Gwen has been part of the Lyric Opera’s Youth Opera Council, the Women’s Glee Club at U of I, and, most notably, was selected as the first Young Composer in Residence for Hearing in Color and La Caccina — an immersive residency focused on engaging emerging composers of various backgrounds to write choral music for advanced treble voices.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”” align=”center”][vc_column_text]

Founder and Artistic Director of Hearing In Color, LaRob K. Rafael, speaks with Gwen Maramba and Merit’s Director of Choirs and Artistic Director for La Caccina, Carling FitzSimmons, about Gwen’s experience as Hearing In Color and La Caccina’s first Young Composer in Residency.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When virtual learning became the “new norm” at Merit, faculty across all programs brought new offerings and untraditional programming to all their classes. That’s how Gwen discovered her passion for choral composing in addition to vocal training.

When asked about the shift to focus on expanded artistry and new skills projects as in-person classes transitioned to remote, “I was kind of intimidated by them,” Gwen shares. “I thought, , ‘I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that,’ but [Carling FitzSimmons, Merit’s Director of Choirs and Artistic Director for La Caccina] really supported us throughout that process.”

Unbeknownst to Gwen, the seeds for composing were being planted. “Ms. FitzSimmons asked me to put [my arrangement of “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele] on sheet music for her professional choir to sing,” says Gwen. “I got the demo back and it was amazing! I never thought that I would hear a professional choir singing my work.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”28528″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]As an 18-year-old Filipina-American vocalist and composer, Gwen is making strides for the young Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) musical community after premiering her debut piece, “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants”, at one of La Caccina’s concerts this past March.

Not only was her debut a celebration, but her piece won first place in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign American Choral Directors Association Choral Composition Contest.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“It’s the story of how my family began with my grandparents in the Philippines, and through their hard work and love, they’ve created such a legacy that I’m hoping and trying to continue. The goal of all my compositions is to establish that sense of community, because music has the power to communicate emotions and create connections with others.” Gwen shared about her inspiration for the piece.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”” align=”center”][vc_column_text]At a time when students begin to navigate the different paths ahead, it’s inspiring to see young musicians, such as Gwen, finding new aspirations borne from untraditional circumstances. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Gwen!

Hearing In Color and La Caccina’s Young Composer In Residency is currently accepting applications. To apply, click here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” content_placement=”middle” disable_element=”yes” el_class=”cta” css=”.vc_custom_1635456113048{padding-top: 40px !important;padding-right: 100px !important;padding-bottom: 60px !important;padding-left: 100px !important;background-color: #0168b2 !important;}” el_id=”email”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”ADD A LITTLE MUSIC TO YOUR INBOX:” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:20px|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes” el_class=”cta” css=”.vc_custom_1602536504162{padding-bottom: 20px !important;}”][vc_raw_html]JTNDZGl2JTIwY2xhc3MlM0QlMjJlbWFpbC1mb3JtJTIyJTNFJTBBJTA5JTA5JTA5JTNDJTIxLS0lMjBCZWdpbiUyMENvbnN0YW50JTIwQ29udGFjdCUyMElubGluZSUyMEZvcm0lMjBDb2RlJTIwLS0lM0UlMEElMDklMDklMDklM0NkaXYlMjBjbGFzcyUzRCUyMmN0Y3QtaW5saW5lLWZvcm0lMjIlMjBkYXRhLWZvcm0taWQlM0QlMjIxMTRiZTkyZS05NDM2LTQxZjMtOWZkOS1hYzBjYzI3YTY4YmElMjIlM0UlM0MlMkZkaXYlM0UlMEElMDklMDklMDklM0MlMjEtLSUyMEVuZCUyMENvbnN0YW50JTIwQ29udGFjdCUyMElubGluZSUyMEZvcm0lMjBDb2RlJTIwLS0lM0UlMEElMDklMDklM0MlMkZkaXYlM0UlMjAlMEE=[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” content_placement=”middle” el_class=”cta” css=”.vc_custom_1635456118135{margin-bottom: -40px !important;padding-top: 40px !important;padding-right: 100px !important;padding-bottom: 60px !important;padding-left: 100px !important;background-color: #0168b2 !important;}” el_id=”cta1″][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”INTERESTED IN JOINING MERIT’S CONSERVATORY?” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_custom_heading text=”Register today for your audition!” font_container=”tag:h4|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_btn title=”LEARN MORE →” style=”custom” custom_background=”#e4701e” custom_text=”#ffffff” align=”center” link=”|title:LEARN%20MORE%20%E2%86%92%EF%BB%BF|target:_blank” el_class=”cta-1″][/vc_column][/vc_row]