Commissioning New Music

“One of the most exciting parts of my job is commissioning new music for the Women’s Ensemble,” says Linda Raney. “You might wonder what process leads up to a world premiere of a brand-new composition. Each piece has a special story.”

Do you have a story to share? A milestone or special person to commemorate? You could sponsor a new piece of music!

Marie-Claire Saindon – 43rd Season Commissioned Composer

Marie-Claire Saindon (b. 1984) is a Franco-Ontarian composer based in Montréal. She began creating in high school, where she wrote and produced her first musical, Jeanne (Joan of Arc). She continued to participate in many collaborations, from choral pieces to scoring short films and full documentaries, to accompanying dancers, to fiddling in a team of folk musicians on a historical steam train. She sang in the award-winning female vocal ensemble Concerto Della Donna, led by acclaimed choral director Iwan Edwards.

 Marie-Claire holds a bachelor of music in composition from the Schulich School of Music (McGill) and a master of music in composition—film and multimedia music—from Université de Montréal. She is the winner of the SOCAN Young Composers’ National Awards in the vocal category (2013), the Gregg Smith National Choral Composition Contest (2015), the Canadian Choral Composition Competition hosted by Chor Leoni (2018), the Ruth Watson Henderson Choral Composition Competition (2018), the inaugural Eastern Horizon Composition Competition (2018) and the Hong Kong Children’s Choir 50th Anniversary Composition Competition (2018).

Woman with slight smile and shoulder-length brown hair wearing dark peacoat and navy scarf, standing in front of evergreen branches

Her choral works are published with Boosey & Hawkes, Cypress Choral Music, Hal Leonard Choral, Earthsongs Choral Music and Alliance Music Publications, and are distributed by MusicSpoke.

 Marie-Claire currently scores films (often with Melki Films), composes choral commissions and is composer-in-residence for the Montreal upper-voice ensemble Choeur Adleisia.

Linda Studley – Poet

Linda Studley is a writer, musician and artist from northern British Columbia. She has released three music CDs and one book of poetry, with another scheduled to be released in the spring of 2024. Her poetry has a propensity for popping up in unusual places—as choral music, as a tattoo, in calligraphic art, even hanging in trees to save a forest. Stop in and say ‘Hi’ at


Sarah Jaysmith – 42nd Season Commissioned Composer

Sarah Jaysmith is an award-winning music director, composer, piano teacher and accompanist. She studied composition under Dr. Joseph Groocock as part of her Bachelor of Music Education from Trinity College, Dublin, and has been composing and arranging ever since!

Sarah’s two compositional loves are choral music and musical theater. She has sung in many choirs, including the Dublin College of Music Chamber Choir and the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir. She has composed and arranged many works for choir and has also composed two musicals (Waking Dreams and One Plus One) and written the music for over 60 songs. She was the resident music director and arranger for the Broadway Chorus (Vancouver, BC) for 14 years.

Sarah particularly loves composing for SSAA choirs. Her arrangement of “Gartan Mother’s Lullaby” was published by Pavane Publishing in 2016, after being premiered by Elektra Women’s Choir (Vancouver, BC). Elektra (under the direction of Morna Edmundson) also commissioned her to arrange “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella,” which was published by Cypress Choral Publishing in 2019. Both pieces were premiered at their Christmas concert, “Chez Nous,” in 2015. In 2018, she was commissioned by Bella Voce, a women’s choir in Reno, Nevada. Bella Voce (directed by Jennifer Tibben) asked her to compose an original piece, “Stronger Together,” which premiered in their spring concert that year.

Sarah Jaysmith

Sarah is honored and thrilled to have been chosen as this year’s commissioned composer for the Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble and to have the chance to work with Raymond Raney’s powerful text.

She is originally from Ireland and has recently moved back there after living in Canada for many years. She lives with her husband, Gil; her son, Galen; and their two house rabbits, Ethan and Freda.

Raymond Raney – Poet

Raymond Raney describes his lifelong love affair with poetry this way: “I write. I have been writing since the fifth grade. But I’ve always thought of myself as a poet. Not that I’m published, but that has been my choice. I write for myself and for those for whom I write my poetry. I decided to share a small selection of poems with Linda Rice Beck as possible texts for her compositions for the Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble. I was humbled when she thought they were worth her attention.”

“My formal higher education began with a major in English literature with an emphasis on creative writing, but journalism became my second major, and soon I was writing for a living. However, poetry was the constant, a way of apprehending feelings and focusing myself.

“I worked as a journalist for 15 years and came to Santa Fe as news editor at the Santa Fe New Mexican. When that career path ended, I moved my focus to the visual arts and received degrees in art history and photography, and taught media studies at the University of New Mexico and Santa Fe Community College. After 12 years, I answered the call to ministry and was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 2006.”

Fr. Raney’s ministry began at St. Bede’s in Santa Fe. He was rector of Church of the Holy Cross in Edgewood for nearly 10 years before being appointed Canon to the Ordinary of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande. Although retired in 2019, he currently serves as interim Priest in Charge at Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church, Los Alamos.

Concerning the 2022 commission, Raymond Raney shares, “Having previously worked with composer Linda Rice Beck, I was asked to write a poem based on the 1913 painting St. Bride by John Duncan. In keeping with the legend, the work depicts two angels bearing St. Bride from the Isles of Scotland to the Nativity in Bethlehem to serve as midwife to the birth of the Savior. Collaborating with Sarah Jaysmith on the text of the poem was a delight.”

Linda Rice Beck – 41st Season Commissioned Composer

Composer Linda Rice Beck is a native of Las Vegas, NM, and graduated from the University of Akron, OH. Her music is published by Fred Bock Music (Hal Leonard) and National Music Publishers, and she is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). Besides composing, Linda also sings soprano with the Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble and First Presbyterian Chancel Choir, and she plays handbells in the Chancel Bell Choir.

Linda has done graduate study in composition with Dr. Samuel Gordon at the University of Akron, from which she received two Outstanding Artistic Achievement Awards for her compositions.

Linda’s music has been commissioned by community, university and church choirs, and performed throughout the U.S. and in Europe, including Rome at the Vatican church, Santa Maria Maggiore (Pie Jesu from the Requiem). Her O Sacrum Convivium was sung at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe for both the 400th anniversary celebrations and the 50th anniversary celebration for Archbishop Sheehan in July 2014. Her Requiem has been performed numerous times, most recently in Nashville, TN, in November 2018.

Linda was the 2008–09 commissioned composer for the Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble and was commissioned by Ensemble singers Sue Katz and Mickey Bond in 2014 to write Words of Peace. She is extremely honored to have been chosen for this third commission, and she is deeply grateful for the opportunity to set to music the beautiful poetry of Raymond Raney.

Linda Rice Beck

Other commissions include those for New Mexico Highlands University; the Sangre de Cristo Chorale, Santa Fe; First Christian Church, Cuyahoga Falls, OH; the Durango Women’s Choir, Durango, CO; Northwoods Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX; St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, Santa Fe; and most recently the Durango Choral Society, Durango, CO, in honor of their 50th season this year (premiered December 8, 2019).

Linda is very active in the musical life of Santa Fe as a singer, composer and patron. She and her husband, Jim, have two sons and two grandchildren.