Dawn Sonntag is a composer, vocalist, pianist, and
conductor whose works include opera, vocal, choral, chamber, and orchestral music.
Influenced by her extensive background as both a vocalist and pianist, Sonntag has been called a "versatile musician of great ability" whose works are "hauntingly lyrical"
(Schaumburg-Lippe Landes-Zeituing, June, 2009).
Her opera, Verlorene Heimat (Lost Homeland), based on the true story of East Prussian Nazi rresistors and the Jewish-Ukrainian girl they sheltered, was a featured work in the Cleveland Opera Theaters 2018 New Opera Works Festival. Her 10-minute opera for solo soprano, Evangline, based on Longfellow's poem of the same name, was premiered at the Vocalypse Opera from Scratch festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2017 and will be a featured work on the Hartford Women's Composers Festival in April, 2018. Herchoral works have been performed by the Valparaiso Concert Choir,
Augsburg College Choir, University of Minnesota Women's Choir, the Ohio State
Chamber Singers and Women's Glee Club, the Princeton Singers, the North
Florida Women's Chorale, the Leif Eriksson International Choir, Mississippi State University, and more. Her chamber music has been performed by The Orchid Ensemble, Fairbanks - based Corvus, the Almeda Trio, Amphion Strings, by professional soloists across the U.S. and has been performed on numerous Cleveland Composer Guild concerts and broadcast on public radio and television. She contributed music for the documentary films Action Arts and Voice to Vision IV, which were broadcast on Twin Cities PBS. Her first opera, "Verlorene Heimat," which chronicles the experiences of ethnic German East Prussian refugees in Eastern Europe during WWII, was premiered in 2014 at Hiram College, and scenes have been performed by the Halifax Opera Theater, Cleveland Opera Theater, and ContempOpera Theater. Her setting of Whitman's "Come up from the Fields, Father" will be featured at the 2017 Source Song Festival in Minneapolis, and her10-minute solo opera based on Longfellow's Evangeline will be premiered at the Vocalypse Opera from Scratch festival in August, 2017.
Sonntag has been a composer-in-residence at the Visby International Centre for Composition in Visby, Sweden, and was named the Music Teachers National Association-Ohio's 2010 Distinguished Composer of the Year. She was a finalist in the 2007 American Composers Forum Faith Partners commissioning competition.
In addition to composing, Sonntag has an extensive performance background. As a singer, Sonntag has performed art song, oratorio, opera, and jazz, and was winner of the Kenwood Symphony's Masters Concerto and Aria competition. She has performed with the Florentine Opera and Opera Columbus and has appeared as a soloist with numerous choral organizations, including Kantorei (Minneapolis-St. Paul), Exulatate (St. Paul), the Westerville Community Chorus (Columbus), , and the Texas Bach Choir (San Antonio). Sonntag's love for Scandinavian vocal music and language led to a Foreign Language Area Studies fellowship in Oslo, Norway in 2007 for the study of advanced Norwegian, and her vocal recital repertory includes works by Grieg, Sibelius, Backer-Grøndal, and Kjerulf. She was awarded the Inge Pitler Prize for both voice performance and lied accompanying at the Hochschule fuer Kirchenmusik in Heidelberg. As a pianist, Sonntag has performed with singers and instrumentalists across the U.S. and in Germany and France. Sonntag has conducted college, community, and church choirs across the U.S. and in Germany, including the Sarteano Chamber Choir in Sarteano, Italy; the Heidelberg International Choir; the German chamber choir Chor des Collegium Artiums; the Leif Eriksson International Choir; the Oslo University Summer School Choir; the Ohio State University Chamber Singers and Women's Glee Club; the University of Minnesota Concert Choir and Women's Chorus; and the Hiram College Chamber Singers and Western Reserve Women's Chorus, which she founded in 2011.
Sonntag studied composition with Alex Lubet at the University of Minnesota. Her studies in counterpoint, harmony, and composition with Narcis Bonet, Claude Baker, and Phillip Lasser at the L'ecole normale de Musique in Paris, France, under the auspices of the European-American Musical Alliance, further developed her ability to infuse lyrical, melodic line into both her vocal and instrumental works.
Sonntag holds graduate degrees in voice, composition, choral conducting, and piano from the University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, and the Hochschule für Kirchenmusik, Heidelberg. She pursued undergraduate studies in trumpet performance, voice, and piano at the
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and the University of Texas at El Paso. She has taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of St. Catherine, Hiram College, and Gonzaga University . Currently she is vice-chair of the Cleveland Composers Guild and an active member of the Cascadia chapter of NACUSA.