An oratorio for SATB Choir, Soloists, and Orchestra

"The echo of Jesus drifts into dreams--"

Helmed by lead commissioner Dr. Craig Jessop and the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra, To A Village Called Emmaus is a new 40-minute oratorio by librettist Glen Nelson and composer Ethan Wickman that tells the compelling story of the events in the week after Christ's resurrection. The text draws from the Gospel of Luke, using multiple translations and original poetry to embrace many faith traditions. The audience joins with the unwitting disciples as they discover the origins and identity of their divine, fellow traveler.


Glen Nelson, librettist

Glen Nelson is an American poet, librettist, publisher, writer, and a ghostwriter of several New York Times nonfiction bestsellers. A graduate of New York University, where he studied the work of James Joyce, Nelson has collaborated with several composers on the creation of new works, including the libretto for a one-act opera adaptation of Joyce's Dubliners entitled The Dead, poetry for the song cycles Coney Island Songs and Pop Art Songs, as well as poetry for the cantata Jesus, Lay Your Sleeping Head: A Cantata for the Christmas Season. He was also the librettist for The Singer's Romance (1998[6]), an opera based on the stories of Willa Cather. In addition, he wrote the production script for Fictionist's rock opera The Bridge, which he based on Ambrose Bierce's short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge".  Future projects include a libretto for a new opera by composer Lansing McLoskey to be premiered by Guerrilla Opera in Boston, MA. He recently finished writing a book exploring the life and work of German American artist Joseph Paul Vorst, entitled Joseph Paul Vorst.

Photo by William McCrary

Photo by William McCrary

Ethan Wickman, composer*

"A composer of facility and imagination, the kind to whom both performers and audiences respond" (The New York Times), Ethan Wickman's music has been performed in venues around the world. He has received grants and commissions from Barlow, Meet the Composer, the American Composers Forum, the Wisconsin Music Teachers Association, the Utah Arts Festival, Music in the Loft, Fulbright and others. He was awarded the Jacob Druckman prize for his orchestral work Night Prayers Ascending at the Aspen Music Festival, the Harvey Phillips Award for his work Summit from the International Tuba Euphonium Association, first place in the Utah Arts Festival Chamber Commission Competition, and was a finalist in the 25th ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Orchestral Composition Competition.

He is Associate Professor of Music Composition and Theory at the University of Texas at San Antonio, he is also Executive Director of the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University.

The American Festival Chorus and Orchestra


Founded in 2008 by Dr. Craig Jessop, the American Festival Chorus & Orchestra has become a leading artistic voice in Northern Utah and has sought to enrich the lives it touches through performance, education, and appreciation of choral art. 

The auditioned Chorus brings together more than 200 singers from a 90-mile radius, including talented singers from the community, Utah State University faculty, and outstanding USU students.  The Orchestra is a 65-member professional ensemble composed of faculty from USU’s music department, professional musicians from the region, and select USU students.

Director and Conductor Dr. Craig Jessop is Professor of Music and the founding Dean for the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University.  These appointments follow Dr. Jessop’s distinguished tenure as music director of the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Prior to this, Dr. Jessop’s long and storied career includes serving as director of the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants in Washington, D.C.; as conductor of the Band of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe; and as director of the Maryland Choral Society. 


"Let us take bread then, break, and eat together."


Although the full choral orchestral version of To A Village Called Emmaus premiered in April of 2019, we wish to welcome other distinguished organizations as premiering, commissioning partners. The work will ultimately exist in a chamber format as well:

  • SATB choir, soloists (soprano, tenor, baritone, bass), organ, and small chamber ensemble (instrumentation TBA) (performance ready in 2020)

To join the consortium, or to get more information about it, please fill out this form:

Name *