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Hopewell Valley Central High School senior Maura Tuffy, who is an accomplished pianist, vocalist and all-around musical talent, can now add another title to her resume: published composer.

Tuffy recently got the good news that a choral composition she wrote last spring, Ubi Caritas (Latin for “Where Charity”), will be published in a choral music collection compiled by Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe, Chairman of the Choral and Sacred Music Department at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. The piece was debuted last spring by Central High School’s Chamber Singers.

“I’m pretty excited. It’s kind of surreal for me,” said Ms. Tuffy.

Ubi Caritas is a Christian hymn traditionally sung on Holy Thursday that has roots as a Gregorian melody with several renditions throughout the centuries, including a version sung at the marriage of England’s Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.

Ms. Tuffy met Dr. Scheibe in Baltimore last winter at the American Choral Directors’ Association (ACDA) Eastern Division Honor Conference, where he conducted the high school honor choir in which Ms. Tuffy performed a solo. Dr. Scheibe is a luminary in the world of choral music, having collaborated with Luciano Pavarotti, Elton John, Barry Manilow and the Rolling Stones, as well as other noted musicians.

While discussing her composition, Dr. Scheibe asked to see it when it was complete. After composing the piece in about four weeks, Ms. Tuffy sent it to Dr. Scheibe for his review and was surprised when he then chose to include it in the Jo-Michael Scheibe Choral Music Series, published by Colla Voce Music.

Ms. Tuffy originally encountered the text at Trinity Episcopal Church in Princeton, where she has sung with their well-known choir program since she was in third grade and with which she has performed at venues ranging from New York City’s Lincoln Center to London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, where she sang as a soloist.

“I have always connected with that text, ever since I was little,” said Ms. Tuffy of her inspiration for writing the piece.

Though she has no formal training in composition, Ms. Tuffy is an accomplished classical and jazz pianist, having won numerous awards and performed several times at Carnegie Hall. Also, she has worked closely with Central High School’s Director of Choral Activities Matthew Erpelding, who has reviewed and offered advice on her compositions. Ubi Caritas is her second composition; as a sophomore, Tuffy composed Alleluia, which was performed by CHS’s female choir, Ragazze.

Mr. Erpelding said it was “highly unusual” for a music publisher to seek out a new composer for publication. “For them to reach out to her, for this to happen under a really well-respected choral series is really an incredible honor,” said Erpelding. “It’s a privilege and very atypical.”

Last week, Ms. Tuffy student-conducted CHS’s Women’s Concert Choir in the high school’s winter choral concert. And in February, she will travel to Salt Lake City, UT, to represent Hopewell in the ACDA National Honor Choir.

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Mary Galioto
Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe, and a lawyer. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, photographing mushrooms, and misguided adventures in random hobbies. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), serves on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance, and holds the elected position as the Hopewell Borough Democratic Committee Municipal Chairwoman.

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