North Star Composers

Garth Baxter
Composer Garth Baxter is noted for his modern traditionalist style of writing. This is a style that combines the traditions of form and clear melodic writing with the use of contemporary approaches to harmonies and other elements. He is recognized as one of the preeminent composers of art songs and has been described as an unabashed lyrical, tonal composer.

Baxter was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1946, and moved to California when he was nine years old. He earned music degrees from Pepperdine University and California State University at Northridge. He studied composition with Robert Hall Lewis, Joseph Wagner, and William Thornton. He studied guitar with Ronald C. Purcell and David Underwood. In addition to writing music, Baxter currently teaches and mentors emerging composers.

Baxter’s compositions for chorus, orchestra, symphonic band, piano, organ, flute, voice, and guitar, as well as other instrumental combinations, have been performed throughout the world. His music has been featured on radio and on-line programs worldwide. He has received numerous awards, commissions, and honors. His music has been the topics of Doctoral and Master’s Theses.

His recording, ASK THE MOON, works for voice and piano by Garth Baxter, released January 2018 by PARMA Recordings (Navona), has been praised worldwide. The recording Katherine Keem Sings Songs and Arias by Garth Baxter, from Centaur Records, has been acclaimed for its significant contribution to the voice and guitar repertoire.

A recording of Baxter’s instrumental works, Resistance, was released from PARMA Recordings (Navona) February 2019 and has received wonderful reviews. His work Still Falls the Rain was featured on the album Voices of Earth and Air, Vol. 3 released by PARMA (Navona) in October, 2020.

A new recording of recent music from Mr. Baxter, Ask of me What the Birds Sang, from PARMA Recordings was released in December 2022.

Baxter’s works are published by Les Productions D’OZ, Doberman-YPPan, ALRY Publications, Columbia Music Company, Guitar Chamber Music Press, Mel Bay Publications, North Star Music and Theodore Presser.

Scott Crowne
Scott Crowne enjoys a diverse and active career as a pianist, conductor, coach, and teacher. In the realm of opera, he is in high demand as a coach and music director. He is currently the artistic director and principle conductor of Opera Susquehanna in Pennsylvania. In the past he served as principal conductor and music director for the Hub Opera Ensemble and the American Singer’s Opera Project. As a coach, he has worked for such institutions as Bel Canto in Tuscany (Florence). the Mediterranean Opera Studio (Sicily), the Middlebury German for Singers Program, the Bay Area Summer Opera Theater, the University of Miami Festival in Salzburg, the voice department of Towson University, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Brevard Music Center.

He finds great fulfillment as a teacher for young musicians as well. As professor of collaborative piano at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he performs with faculty, guests, and students on a regular basis. In addition he serves as the music director for the opera workshop program and frequently the college musical theater productions as well. Off campus he served as music director for the undergraduate opera workshop and taught graduate vocal literature classes at the University of Maryland, College Park. Additionally, he works each summer with high school students for the Washington National Opera’s Family Opera and Opera Institute. 

As a pianist, he is praised for his sensitive and supportive collaboration with singers and instrumentalists. He performs in Europe and across the United States many times a year in addition to frequent concerts in the Mid-Atlantic region. Venues include Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, the Leopoldskron in Salzburg, and the Teatro Eschillo in Sicily.
Complimenting his love of performance, he is also an inquisitive researcher. He enjoys searching out unusual and interesting music to enrich the standard recital repertoire. His particular interest is in the music of Herbert Howells (1892-1983), on whom he did his dissertation and just published an edition of art songs for Novello and Co.

He received his BMus summa cum laude at the Catholic University of America where studied piano and composition. He received a teaching assistance-ship to the University of Maryland (DMA, MMus) where he performed in numerous concerts and recitals as a vocal accompanist, chamber musician, continuo artist, and orchestral pianist. He spent three years as a répétiteur with the Maryland Opera Studio, assisting with the preparation and performance of operas and opera scenes. He participated or served as pianist for masterclasses for Jennifer Laramore, Evelyn Lear, Elizabeth Bishop, Marcello Giordani, Jerry Hadley, Steven Blier and Martin Katz. He has worked with conductors such as Matthias Kuntzsch, Christoph Hagel, Asher Fisch, Ken Slowick and Kenneth Merrill. His teachers include Rita Sloan, John Greer, James Litzelman, and Wendy Dengler. 

He currently resides in York, Pennsylvania with his wife, dramatic soprano Leah Schenck-Crowne, and his two daughters. 

Emerson Eads
Dr. Emerson Eads currently serves as Director of Choral Activities at Minot State University. As a composer and conductor, Emerson has devoted himself to music of social concern. His Mass for the Oppressed, a setting of the Ordinary of the Mass featuring textual interpolations by his brother Evan Eads and a Credo adapted from the diary of Pope Francis, reflects on some of the most poignant social issues of our time. The Mass was written to muster public support for the Fairbanks Four, Native Alaskans from the composer’s hometown who were wrongfully imprisoned for eighteen years. Eads’ cantata “…from which your laughter rises” was written for the mothers of the Fairbanks Four. It was conducted to acclaim, paired in a concert featuring Haydn’s Stabat Mater. His newest opera, The Princess Sophia, is about the sinking of the SS Princess Sophia. It was premiered in Juneau, Alaska, on October 25th, 2018—the disaster’s centennial–to rave review in Opera Magazine. His most recent large-scale project, A Prairie Cantata, recovers lyrics from a neglected North Dakota woman poet and was premiered with the Minot State University Choir.

Dr. Eads studied choral conducting with Carmen-Helena Tellez at the University of Notre Dame, working with eminent choral conductors including Joseph Flummerfelt, Stephen Cleobury, Anne Howard Jones, and Peter Phillips. Prior to his graduate work, he studied composition with Alaskan composer John Luther Adams.

Elaine Fine
Elaine Fine began musical life as a violinist, but received a Bachelor of Music Degree in flute performance from The Juilliard School of Music, where she was a student of Julius Baker. She also studied recorder in Vienna, baroque flute in Boston, and composition at Eastern Illinois University. In addition to being on the reviewing staff of the American Record Guide since 1993, she is the program annotator for the New Philharmonic of DuPage County, and teaches at Lake Land College, in Mattoon, Illinois. Elaine is active as a performing violinist and violist, and plays in the viola sections of the Prairie Ensemble, the Champaign  Urbana Symphony, and also plays the viola d’amore and the recorder. She has over 70 pieces of chamber music published by the Seesaw Music in New York (now owned by Subito Music in New Jersey), and has some woodwind pieces published by Jeanné in Minnesota. She has worked extensively with Amoris International in Switzerland and as an editor and arranger for the International Music Company in New York. Elaine has also written three operas, orchestral music, several songs and song cycles, and a great deal of chamber music, some of which has been recorded on Capstone Records (as part of the 2003 60×60 project) and Crystal Records (on Susan Nigro’s 2008 recording “Original tunes for the Big Bassoon”). Elaine has written numerous articles for The Instrumentalist, Strings Magazine, The Journal of the American String Teachers’ Association, the Maud Powell Signature, and contributed several articles to Classical Music: The Third Ear–The Essential Listening Companion published in 2002 for Backbeat Books. Awards include listings in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in American Women, a special commendation for The Snow Queen in the 2003 Nancy Van de Vate International Composition prize for opera, and yearly ASCAP Awards from 2003 through 2008.

Lee R. Kesselman
Composer Lee R. Kesselman is best known as a composer of vocal works, including opera, music for chorus, chamber music and solo songs. Large vocal works include the opera The Bremen Town Musicans (commissioned by Opera for the Young), The Emperor’s New Clothes (a choral opera), Measuring the Holy for SATB, children and orchestra, Shona Mass for voices and African percussion, and Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand, a symphony for treble chorus and orchestra, and Praise to the Light of the World for men, women, SATB and symphonic band. The Bremen Town Musicans has been performed over 350 times for schoolchildren in Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee and Texas.

Kesselman has been honored as a composer with prizes in the Melodious Accord (New York) Composition Search, Chautauqua Chamber Singers Composition Contest, the Chautauqua Children’s Chorale Composition Contest and the Illinois Choral Directors’ Association Contest. Kesselman is the composer or arranger of over 90 published choral works and an equal number of unpublished works in the genres of choral, opera, symphonic, solo voice and chamber music.

Kesselman has written numerous pieces for instrumental ensembles, including O lente, lente currite noctis equi!, CG, and Love Song for a Common Destiny for string orchestra, Metallum and Bei Mir for percussion ensembles, and works for various combinations of solo piano, violin and piano, cello and bass, violin and bass, and Duo Mythologique for flute and string bass. His extended works for solo voice and instruments include JOLERE for soprano and string quartet (and dance), Ashes & Dreams for soprano, clarinet and piano, Make Me A Willow Cabin for soprano, clarinet and piano, FACES for soprano and piano, In the Garden of Love for soprano and piano, LOVE PHASES for baritone and piano, How I Hate This Room for soprano, cello and piano, and CIRCLES for soprano, string bass and piano.

Composer & arrangement of many works for choruses of all voicings and levels, Kesselman’s best-known choral works include BUZZINGS for SATB on poetry of Emily Dickinson, Ad Amore for treble or tenor/bass voices and bells, SHONA MASS for various voicings and African percussion, Be Thou My Vision for SATB, Kaddish for My Father for SATB, clarinet and piano, Hope is the Song to words of Gordon Parks, Love Song for a Common Destiny for SATB, As One is One for SATB, string bass and piano, SENSOO for SATB and crotales, Nights in Armor for SATB, Kadosh/Benedictus for SSA or SAB brass quintet and organ, and Moonplay for SSA, flute and marimba. His choral arrangements span the worlds of African, Scottish, American, Japanese, Swedish, Native American, Spirituals, Hebrew and Yiddish songs and Christmas carols. He has also ‘re-thought’ works by Bach, Handel, Monteverdi for voices.

Mr. Kesselman’s works for children have brought him national attention and he has been commissioned to write for children’s choirs, middle school, junior school, high school, college, community, church, and professional ensembles. Boosey & Hawkes, Roger Dean Music, Lawson-Gould Music Publishers, Colla Voce, Carl Fischer Music and G. Schirmer have published many of Mr. Kesselman’s choral works. His compositions and arrangements are also available through and He served as a long-time choral editor for Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers. He is also the co-founder and Associate Director of the Choral Music Experience Teacher Training Institute. 

Kesselman served as Director of Choral Activities at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, a suburb of Chicago, from 1981-2022. He is Founder and Music Director of the New Classic Singers, a professional choral ensemble. He also directed the DuPage Chorale and College of DuPage Chamber Singers. A native of Milwaukee, he holds undergraduate degrees in piano and composition from Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and a master’s degree in conducting from the University of Southern California. In addition to teaching and composing, Mr. Kesselman is active as a conductor, pianist, clinician and lecturer. He has been music director for a variety of opera and musical theatre productions. Kesselman was Chair of the Music Program at College of DuPage and Founding Curator of the Music Fridays @ Noon series. He served as President of Illinois Choral Directors Association. Chicago a cappella awarded Kesselman its Tribute Award in 2018.

Kari Cruver Medina
Kari Cruver Medina is a Seattle-based composer whose work spans a broad palate of stylistic traditions. Her music has been featured across the United States and abroad, with choral and orchestral works premiered recently in both Europe and Asia.

Three of Medina’s orchestral compositions have just been recognized by  American Prize Competition:  Nisse Mischief,  (for chamber orchestra) was awarded second prize, and Völuspá; Song of the Seeress, ( for soprano soloist and orchestra) was named a finalist. ​VIVA, (for orchestra)was recognized as semi-finalists.  In addition, VIVA  was  just premiered as one of four finalists in the Tampa Bay Symphony’s 2022 New Music Competition.

Although 2020-21 was a challenging year for live performance, it did provided lots of time  for composing, recording and publishing. 

The Tale of a Train: The City of Truro, received First Prize in the 2021 Cornwall International Male Choir Festival Composition Contest. Medina’s solo piano work Web and Wings, was winner of the  Renée B. Fisher Composer Award  for 2021.  The  SSA choral work Medatabor,  was awarded  Honorable Mention in Notre Dame’s 2021 Liturgical Composition Commission Competition.  An instrumental duet Heart Remember Dance, was selected by the Domino Ensemble for their 2021 album of new music.  And two of her Art Songs for Soprano and Piano : Echo, and A Birthday,  were published in North Star Music’s 2021 release:  Modern Music for New Singers: 21st Century American Art Songs. 

Writing for Male Choir has become almost a tradition.  The Tyger,  written for TTBB choir, won 3rd place in November’s 2020 Cornwall International Male Choir Festival Composition Contest, a competition Medina also won in 2019, taking first place with Winter Has Come.  In addition, Medina’s  anthem,  Stand in the Light, was published as one of the international winners of the 2019 “50th Anniversary Hong Kong Children’s Choir” Choral Composition Contest.

Orchestral premieres over the past couple of years have included: Christmas Mischief  with the Nisse (Nisse Mischief), and One Snowy Day, both performed by the chamber orchestra, (EBM) Ensemble Belle de la Musique,  in Singapore. (2018, 2019) A third work from this ensemble, Connemara  is featured  on their Love and Beauty (2020) albumavailable on  Spotify and iTunes. 

 Noteworthy premieres from 2017-18 included Fragile Spinning Earth, (Twin Cities Women’s Choir, Minneapolis, MN) and One Family, (Chorosynthesis, Seattle, WA). Both works are a part of a choral series advocating for new music that advances socially conscious themes.

2016  marked the unveiling of the first movement of Medina’s work for soprano and orchestra written in Old Norsk and based on the grand Viking epic, Edda.  Völuspá; Song of the Seeress, was commissioned for Soprano Alexandra Piccard and the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, (Seattle, WA).  A great fan of poetry, Medina has developed a series of multi-media Art Song Salons called Sister’s From Across the Sea, which features the poetry and life stories of female poets Emily Dickinson and Christina Rossetti. 

Past  awards include a semi-finalist status in the America Prize (2015), and winning selections for the International Alliance of Women in Music, (2016) and the Voices of London Festival (2014).

During her tenure as Music Director at University Presbyterian Church, in Seattle,  Medina composed weekly for a wide variety of ensembles, blending classical and popular vocal and instrumental traditions.  In addition, her Emmy-nominated scores as a studio musician and composer have accompanied various PBS Television productions, including Rick Steve’s “Travels through Europe” and KCTS’s “Over” Series.

A Washington native who grew up in Gig Harbor, Kari Medina’s graduate and undergraduate training were at University of Washington and Washington State University, where she studied with William Bergsma and Loran Olsen. She and her husband John have two sons.

Joseph N. Rubinstein
Joseph N. Rubinstein was born in Cleveland, OH, and grew up there and in Newport News, VA.  Now based in New York City, his music is largely focused on texted and dramatic genres like opera, art song, and choral music.  With an emphasis on emotional directness and vivid storytelling, Joseph’s melodically driven and dramatic work is often inspired by American history, explorations of identity, and the natural world.  His style is particularly informed by the folk-influenced concert music of the United States, United Kingdom, and Russia, and by minimalism, the sacred choral music tradition, electronica, and musical theater.  He has collaborated on new theatrical works and songs with librettists and writers including Mark Campbell, Jason Kim, and Melisa Tien.

Joseph’s work has been presented by organizations and individuals including Fort Worth Opera Festival, Seagle Music Festival, The Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater, bass-baritone Davóne Tines, Novi Cantori, Triad: The Boston Choral Collective, American Opera Projects, The Holy Cross Chamber Singers, The Secret Opera, bass-baritone Matthew Burns at the Spoleto Festival USA, North / South Consonance, the Society for New Music, Boston Metro Opera, and C4. He has received commissions from The Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, The Urbana Public Arts Council and flutist Kathleen Winters, New Vintage Baroque, and the Cheah-Chan Duo.  In 2017, Joseph and librettist Jason Kim received an Opera Genesis Fellowship from the Hermitage Artists Colony and American Opera Projects for developmental work on their opera “House of Legendary.”  In 2020, the same project received a Repertoire Development Grant from Opera America.  Joseph studied at Columbia University (BA) and at The Juilliard School (MM).  He further studied with composer Tarik O’Regan, and at the Bowdoin International Music Festival and Yale Summer School of Music at Norfolk.

Select recent and upcoming performances include selections from “House of Legendary” on the AOP “Mixtape” at Joe’s Pub in New York City (spring 2022), “the wound is the light is the place is” with the William Baker Chorale in Kansas City (spring 2022), and “Casting Off” in recital in New York City with countertenor Jordan Rutter (fall 2022). He is a proud alumnus of the Pacific Chorale’s “Choral Sketches” program (2019), the Composer-Librettist Studio at New Dramatists (2016), and American Opera Projects’ “Composers & The Voice” program (2014).  He is also active as a tenor in the New York City area, and works with contemporary composers as both a choral singer and as a concert planner and administrator.

Select works are available through See-A-Dot music publishing and North Star Music LLC. To get in touch or purchase other scores, contact him here.

Del’Shawn Taylor
Del’Shawn is an internationally award-winning baritone and composer, pianist, educator, author, and arts equity advocate. When he isn’t composing or performing, he is either  binge-watching a new series on Netflix with his wife, Chanel and their puppy Malachi, spending time with his beloved family or traveling around the country or Europe. He is an avid arts activist within his community serving on different boards and committees to ensure that marginalized communities have access to the transformative power of the arts. He recently released his first children’s book “Do You Know What Makes a Man,”in his series Believe It! Achieve it! that seeks to empower Black youth and is preparing for a national virtual book tour. His favorite quote is, “Have courage and be kind.” He  works in partner management at Guild Education in Denver, Colorado.