March 27, 2023
Jennifer Sacher Wiley, associate professor of music at Susquehanna University, had her composition, Hanukkah Medley, premiere in Tacoma, Washington, by the Northwest Sinfonietta.
Hanukkah Medley is comprised of four songs: Sevivon So So, Who Can Retell, Oh Hanukkah and culminates with the song Light One Candle by Peter Yarrow of the famous folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary.
“I’m proud to feel like I’ve contributed something to the vast realm of holiday music that’s a bit outside the typical choices,” Wiley said.
A violinist, Wiley originally wrote the piece for herself to play unaccompanied for an annual holiday music service at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Susquehanna Valley, where she is a member. After creating and sharing a video that included Hanukkah Medley as the soundtrack, Wiley was contacted by friend and concertmaster Denise Dillenbeck, who asked that Wiley arrange the piece for the Northwest Sinfonietta string section.
With the piece set to be publicly performed, Wiley quickly asked to secure the rights to use Yarrow’s Light One Candle, which he granted.
“I love this piece and you play it brilliantly. I’m proud that you chose to include my song,” Yarrow wrote to Wiley. “I wish you lots of love and luck and send you my congratulations along with my gratitude for incorporating Light One Candle into this wonderful, wonderful medley.”
Wiley hopes to perform the work as a solo with string orchestra someday and hopes that other violinists might want to perform it, in either version. The piece is available for download on her website, jswviolin.com.
“I’ve heard from other musicians that the medley has ‘weight;’ that it’s not a token Hanukkah song but has compositional depth,” Wiley said. “I recently received a communication telling me that a couple had attended the NWS concert that premiered Hanukkah Medley specifically to hear the piece and that they’d bought a season subscription because they were pleased by the work of the orchestra. I’m glad that Hanukkah Medley made this couple feel connected to this community of Tacoma, Washington, musicians and music lovers.”
Founded in 1991, Northwest Sinfonietta is the premiere, professional chamber orchestra in the Puget Sound area. As an ensemble of 35 musicians, the Sinfonietta (meaning “little symphony” in Italian) blends the intimacy of chamber music with the power of a full symphony orchestra.
Wiley has been a violin professor at Susquehanna since 1997. She is concertmaster of the Susquehanna Valley Chorale Orchestra and music director and conductor of the West Shore Symphony Orchestra in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Wiley maintains a pre-college violin studio of a dozen students ages 5-17, integrating both college and pre-college studios in a vibrant pedagogy program at Susquehanna.
Wiley earned her bachelor’s degree in violin performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. She went on to earn her master’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music and her doctorate from the University of Minnesota.