Photo by Robin Consier
By Jayme Lowe
Mason Koeritz, senior, has become a published, award-winning composer. His arrangement of the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth” was published through Concordia Publishing House on May 1 of this year.
Koeritz originally wrote the piece in the spring of 2015 for an assignment, in an Arranging class with Dr. Blersch.
“I chose that hymn because my home church was celebrating its 125th anniversary and the theme was Growing Together in Christ. I thought the hymn fit the theme and the school kids could sing it,” said Koeritz in an email interview.
Dr. Blersch liked the piece and recommended that Koeritz submit it for publication at CPH. Since Blersch is a composer for CPH, he was able to help Koeritz send in his piece.
After almost nine months, Koeritz asked CPH if the piece would be published or not. They said it would not be published in 2016 but they would keep it and consider it in future years.
“Fast forward to Fall 2016 and I’m sitting in Dr. Lamm’s Interpersonal Communication class casually checking my phone when I get an email saying CPH wanted to publish my piece! I was stunned and elated, but had to sit through all of class before I could rush out to tell somebody,” said Koeritz.
There were layouts approved and royalty contracts signed, and on May 1, Koeritz was a published composer. Another major milestone soon occurred: J. W. Pepper, a major music distributor, contacted Koeritz to tell him that his piece had received an editor’s choice award and would be featured on their website.
In the first month, about 50 copies of Koeritz’s piece were sold. “[I] earned enough on royalties to go to McDonalds, but not quite enough to get a value meal.” He will find out in November how many copies he has sold so far, and if this piece has done well, he has a higher chance of having other pieces published.
Koeritz does not plan to make a living off of his compositions – he is a double major in Chemistry and Music. “One is a career, and the other is a hobby that will hopefully provide people with uplifting sacred music.”
In the time since he wrote “For the Beauty of the Earth,” Koeritz has written six other children’s choir arrangements of classic hymns such as “Silent Night” and, recently, “Beautiful Savior.” He has sent these in for publishing consideration, as well as two pieces for adult choirs.
“This was my first piece I’ve ever tried to publish, and it’s also the first piece to get published. I’m not sure how many composers can say that they got in on their first attempt, but I’m certainly grateful it did!”
If you would like to hear this piece, there is a recording on the CPH website.