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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Davis musician thrives as composer-for-hire

Sarah Majorins works out a melody on the piano with 9-month-old son Manny on her hip. The busy mom of 2-year-old Rachel and 3-year-old Trinity specializes in composing music for special occasions. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | January 06, 2012 |

Music tells a special story, of love and laughter, heartache and sorrow or blessings and joy.

For Sarah Majorins of Davis, capturing these emotions in a melody is more than just a passion, it’s a business, too. She writes music for special occasions — including church services, weddings, concerts, new songs that go into albums, and more.

Working from her family’s East Davis home, she provides new arrangements of familiar hymns, as well as original material, to customers around the country, using the Internet to move sheet music and sound files back and forth.

She has long been an active musician.

“My dad (David George) is a pastor, at Valley Springs Church in Roseville. So I’ve been involved in church music my entire life,” she says.

Her education followed a musical path as well. Majorins did her undergraduate studies at Westmont College — a small, Christian liberal arts college in the foothills just east of Santa Barbara.

“I was so interested in what I was learning; the professors kept referencing counterpoint, or a Beethoven work, and when I asked about these things, they’d say ‘Oh, you’ll study more about this in grad school,” she relates.

“They referenced graduate school so often, it just felt natural for me to go, because there was so much that I wanted to learn.”

So she came to UC Davis to do a master’s degree, followed by a doctorate, focusing on theory and composition, which she finished in 2007. Her thesis analyzed the Pulitzer Prize-winning composition “On the Transmigration of Souls,” which was written by Bay Area composer John Adams to commemorate the lives of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.

Adams wrote the piece on a commission from the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center’s Great Performers; it premiered in September 2002.

By the time she finished her doctorate, Majorins was married, with her first baby on the way.

“My husband got a teaching job at a private school in San Francisco, so we moved to the Bay Area,” she says. “We lived in the northern part of Oakland, and he commuted into Pacific Heights.”

And while husband Philip Majorins was teaching school, Sarah started a small business at home.

“I started writing music for other people,” she says. “I have friends who are music directors at churches in various parts of the country. One friend in Boston hired me to be his ‘in house’ composer and arranger. He had a worship service every Sunday with an orchestra. The arranger who had held the job before me left for a job with ‘American Idol.’

“That’s when the business started,” she explains. “And for the last four years, that’s what I’ve been doing.”

The Majorins family returned to Davis last May, when Philip and Sarah were jointly hired as worship arts directors by Christ Church, a congregation that meets at 4 p.m. Sundays at Congregation Bet Haverim, 1715 Anderson Road.

She’s also ramped up her part-time composing business.

“A year ago, I started a website (glorianotes.com). It’s essentially an online portfolio. During the last year, I’ve had more business because of that.”

Her business has expanded to include music for weddings, and over the past year she was commissioned to write pieces for four such ceremonies.

“I also recently got a commission to write a song for a couple as a gift, working from a favorite text by Henri Nouwen,” a Dutch-born priest who wrote some 40 books about spirituality.

“For church arrangements, I write for people all over the country,” she says. “I did a project for someone in Virginia recently, also for someone in North Carolina, and someone in Michigan.

“Sometimes these are people who have heard of me through a friend, and they are doing a particular hymn, and they have musicians who play flute and guitar and vibes, and they need an arrangement by Sunday for those three instruments. But I also do a lot  of music for string quartets and quintets.”

Majorins also created, or helped create, several tracks that have appeared on recent albums that are available online. She arranged two tracks for an album titled “Christmas” by Castle Island Hymns.

“That album is a collection by songwriters from the Boston area,” she says. “I also have an original composition (‘Taken and Blessed’) on the album ‘Songs for the Supper.’ And there is a Christmas EP that I sang and played piano on — ‘Come Lord Jesus — Songs of Advent.’ ”

Majorins is also a mother of three lively youngsters — daughter Trinity is 3, daughter Rachel Gloria is 2 and son Philip is 9 months. Which is to say that she multitasks on occasion, keeping track of kids at play while thinking about the details of a piece of music she needs to complete.

“(Composing music) is a great gig,” she says. “I’m at home, I can essentially choose my hours, though I have deadlines. My husband Philip works at home, too. He can help take care of the kids when need be.

“My husband is a music lover; he’s a critic for Popmatters.com (an international online magazine). Marrying him was the best music education I could have gotten after graduate school.”

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or (530) 747-8055.

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