Opus Project Featured

The University School Glee Club, under the direction of Mr. Steve, debuted a new choral work, "There Will Come Soft Rains," by composer Jacob Ven Huizen. It was performed as part of the school's spring concert entitled "Metamorphosis". 

Alex Emerson '17, a writer at the Chagrin Valley Times, interviewed Mr. Steve about the piece, which is the first in a planned series known as "Opus." 

Read the article as it appeared in the print edition of the Chagrin Valley Times

More about "Opus"
Mr. Steve wanted to give his students the opportunity to connect and collaborate with composers working today. As an undergraduate at St. Olaf College, he also had the chance to meet and work with contemporary composers. Mr. Steve said, "The experience and perspective I and my peers gained working with living composers was invaluable to me and something I wanted to perpetuate." He is planning for an annual collaboration with a new composer each time working primarily with the school's Glee Club or A Cappella groups. Additionally, the school aims to publish and make these arrangements available for public performance. Mr. Steve explains, "There is a need for more tenor-bass compositions and arrangements that work for choirs like ours. We hope to create music to add to the repertoire for high school choirs." 

The text of the choral work is the World War 1 era poem, "There Will Come Soft Rains," by Sara Teasdale. Mr. Ven Huizen was inspired by the metamorphosis theme imagined by Mr. Steve and his singers for this collaborative effort. Mr. Ven Huizen describes the connection, "Sara Teasdale’s words are frequently set to music, and I have been intrigued by this poem ever since I first heard a setting of it by Swiss composer Ivo Antognini. The poem is passionately pacifist and is one of her several anti-war poems. The sobering thought is that if humankind cannot put aside its differences and destroys itself; nature would continue and thrive in its absence. We need it, far more than it needs us. This seemed like the perfect poem for this concert." 

About The Composer
Jacob Ven Huizen grew up surrounded by the strong musical culture of Northwest Iowa. He is a second-generation choral director with a deep background in the classical and musical theater genres. Mr. Ven Huizen has been the Director of Choirs at West Lyon Community School District, Iowa, since 2018. His compositions encompass several mediums and include two works performed at the Iowa Bandmasters Association Conference in 2016 and 2017. His music has been performed in Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Taiwan. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Education from Northwestern College and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. Ven Huizen studied composition with Dr. Luke Dahn and Dr. Heather Josselyn-Cranson.

About Devon Steve
Mr. Steve is a 2013 graduate of University School and returned to the Upper School Arts Department in 2022 as Director of Music, directing orchestra and chorus. Additionally, he serves as the Assistant Director of The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus. Mr. Steve earned his Bachelor of Music in Music Education from St. Olaf College and then worked as Assistant Director of Vocal Music and Theater Arts at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa. At Roosevelt High School, he served as director of various choirs and music director for theatrical productions. He has performed nationally and internationally, most recently at Carnegie Hall with The Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus. 
    • One last rehearsal before the premiere of "There Will Come Soft Rains."

    • Composer Jacob Ven Huisen, Mr. Devon Steve, and the Glee Club

    • Jacob Ven Huisen

    • Glee Club members ask Mr. Ven Huisen questions about his process and experience composing the choral work.

    • The Glee Club takes direction from the composer during their final rehearsal.

Shaker Heights Campus

20701 Brantley Road
Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122
Phone: 216-321-8260

Hunting Valley Campus

2785 SOM Center Road
Hunting Valley, Ohio 44022
GRADES 9 – 12
Phone: 216-831-2200
University School serves over 850 boys in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 on two campuses in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. The School’s mission is to inspire boys of promise to become young men of character who lead and serve. Dedicated faculty, rigorous curriculum, and experiential programs foster intellectual, physical, creative, and moral excellence. University School is a diverse and inclusive community where each boy is known and loved.