Music Alum Rene Orth ’07 Wins National Award, Continues Wave of Successes with Compositions

head and shoulder image of Rene Orth

Earlier this year, the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) announced music alumna Rene Orth ’07 as the winner of the 2023 NATS Art Song Composition Award for her song cycle “Weave Me a Name.” The world premiere recording of the work was featured on the 2023 album Force of Nature from soprano Emily Albrink and pianist Kathleen Kelly, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Traditional Classical Albums chart.

“Weave Me a Name” is made up of seven songs about the modern female experience and will be performed at the 58th NATS National Conference to be held June 28 - July 2, 2024. In addition, it will be a part of a future concert by Cincinnati Song Initiative.

Orth also had the honor of completing a three-year tenure as composer-in-residence at Opera Philadelphia, where she wrote the music for the opera 10 Days in a Madhouse. The psychological drama will have a world premiere this fall. Currently, Orth is the inaugural resident composer at Opera San José.

With a blend of electronic soundscapes and beats with acoustic music, Orth’s music has been described as dramatic, reflective, innovative, and lyrical. Two-time Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke commissioned Orth to write “Dear Colleagues” for her 2022 album How Do I Find You, about the gamut of human experiences and artistic reactions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Orth’s other recent distinctions include an OPERA America Commissioning Grant and Discovery Grant for Female Composers, an American Composers Forum Subito Grant, and a Kentucky Foundation for Women Artist Enrichment grant. Her work has been performed by the Berkeley Symphony, New World Symphony, and Washington National Opera, among others.

image of Rene Orth playing the piano
Rene Orth playing the piano when she was an undergraduate at Rhodes College

Orth is a graduate of Curtis Institute of Music (D.M.A.), University of Louisville (M.A.), MediaTech Institute (Diploma), and Rhodes College (B.A.).

Orth came to Rhodes from Garland, TX, and her music concentration was piano. She also was president of the Honor Council and a member of the jazz ensemble, women’s basketball team, and Ultimate Frisbee team.