2012 Prize Winner
For more information about Forrest Pierce of Lawrence, Kansas, the Barlow 2012 Winner, consult his website.
he Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University takes pleasure in announcing commission winners for 2012. After reviewing 266 composer applications from several countries worldwide, the judging panel awarded Forrest Pierce of Lawrence, Kansas, the $12,000 Barlow Prize to compose a major new work for a capella choir. The panel also granted Mike Solomon of Clichy, France the distinction of Honorable Mention in this competition.
Dr. Pierce has two graduate music degrees – MA from the University of Minnesota (1996) and a DMA from Indiana University (1999) where he garnered the Dean’s Prize in Composition. At those institutions, he studied composition with Dominick Argento and Don Freund. Pierce’s fascination with Sufi mysticism has now evolved to an interest in textural conception that is “primarily heterophonic, largely derived from Rock root-position progression and florid Qawwali music…his rhythmic language has become an alternation and collision between freely improvisatory meditative landscapes and consistently pulsed motoric dance rhythms.” He currently holds a faculty position at the University of Kansas. For more information, please visit his website.
General and LDS Commission Recipients
fter considering 144 applications in our General and LDS commissioning programs, the Endowment granted $65,000 to eleven composers who will write works for the following ensembles and musicians:
L ifelong learners understand the value of seeking after virtuous, lovely, and praiseworthy things. The pursuit of beauty expands the intellect, softens hearts, and civilizes behavior. The Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University, established through a generous gift from Milton and Gloria Barlow, takes these precepts to the world.
Now in its 29th year of operations, the Endowment enjoys a global reputation as a premier source of funding composers. This organization has awarded close to a million dollars to composers who compete against formidable competition. Past Barlow commissions have produced new works for myriad ensembles including choirs, orchestras and bands. Interest in the Barlow Endowment expands each year as hundreds of composers apply to this prestigious commissioning agency.
In addition to funding composers, the Barlow Endowment’s Education Grants program supports and nurtures composition students in the School of Music. Besides student scholarships, awards, travel to premieres, and exposure to the world of modern music, we support an internship program where students rub shoulders with distinguished composers and performers at our meetings each August.
As a commissioning agency, the Endowment stands alone in this respect: We only award composers for works not yet written with the guaranteed promise of performance. In the case of our flagship Barlow Prize, we arrange for multiple premieres–a concept that more broadly launches a composition than the usual single premiere performance. Before considering composers for commissions, we ask them to provide documentation from artists and ensembles promising a premiere. These two aspects, the creation of new music with a guaranteed performance combine to form the backbone of the Endowment’s raison d’etre.
A large share of the Barlow Education Grant goes towards direct student support by way of scholarships, assistantships, internships, travel awards, fee support for festivals and performances, and support for guest artists that work directly with students.
Established in 2011, the Milton A. Barlow Scholarship and the Barlow Student Composition Award are ongoing scholarships/awards presented to the most outstanding composition student(s) in our program. The Milton A. Barlow Scholarship is a one-year, full-tuition scholarship, and the Barlow Student Composition Award is a $500 cash award that comes with a commission to write a new piece for one of BYU’s premiere large ensembles. These two named awards have added prestige and visibility to the composition area and we look forward to the continued success of the recipients and the recognition these awards bring to the Endowment.
The recipient of the 2012 Milton A. Barlow Scholarship was Katherine Adams, a senior in music composition. Katherine had a successful year and recently presented her senior recital. She (started) the masters program in music composition at BYU this coming fall (fall of 2012).
The recipient of the 2012 Barlow Student Composition Award was Emily Lawlor Robison, a current masters student in composition. She was commissioned to write a new work for the BYU Wind Symphony, and the ensemble will premiere her piece, Interruptions, on Saturday, April 13, 2013, in the de Jong Concert Hall under the direction of Donald Peterson.
As a brief follow-up, last year’s recipient of both the Barlow Student Composition Award and Milton A. Barlow Scholarship was Curtis Smith. Curtis had a productive year of composing and applying to graduate programs, and after considering several competitive offers, accepted an offer from Indiana University where he will start the doctoral program in music composition this fall on scholarship.
August 2012 marked the eighth year BYU student interns have assisted with the annual Barlow Prize and Commissions judging. Four of our students — Esther Megargel, Emily Lawlor Robison, Zachary Van Houten, and Michael Wahlquist — helped prepare the applicants’ files and coordinated hundreds of scores, recordings, and other materials that would be used in the judging process. They attended the meetings, which included several days of reviewing scores and judging by the Barlow Board of Advisors and guest judges. Students not only observed the judging process first hand while assisting in the various rooms, but also had several opportunities to interact directly with these professional composers and performers during meals and breaks. The Barlow Internship program has been a great boost to our program and we look forward to its continuation.
Barlow funds provided some key support for composition student Jonathan Keith to attend the prestigious highSCORE Festival, which is today’s leading Italian Contemporary Music Festival in Pavia, Italy. Jonathan was able to attend master classes with Yale faculty composer Christopher Theofanidis and also work closely with renowned violinist Irvine Arditti. Jonathan discussed his participation in the festival and played a recording of the string quartet he composed while at the festival at our composition seminar in September 2012. The festival helped Jonathan open up his musical perspective and has had a lasting, positive impact on his work as a composer. Jonathan will begin a masters program in piano performance at the University of Michigan on full scholarship this coming fall where he will continue to pursue his composition studies as well.
In connection with Laycock Center funding, Barlow funds supported a residency by the New York Piano Trio in February 2012, a virtuoso ensemble that includes violinist Curtis Macomber, cellist Chris Finckel, and pianist Stephen Gosling. Composition students composed works for the group to workshop during their visit, and the trio also presented an evening concert of works by BYU faculty composers.
Barlow funds covered travel and lodging expenses and honoraria for two distinguished composers in 2012—both of whom presented Barlow Lectures to the composition students and general community. Both composer residencies were hugely successful and provided great experiences for our composition students.
Barlow Education Grant funds continue to provide needed and valuable support for our composition courses, providing honoraria for student performers that workshop and perform pieces by developing student composers. The practical training our composition students receive from these performances is a key part of their success in our program and in their consistent acceptance into competitive graduate programs.
Composer and clarinetist William O. Smith, a noted composer and performer and emeritus professor of the University of Washington, presented a Barlow Lecture and worked closely with composition students during his residency in February 2012. The residency included an evening concert where Smith performed some of his own work for solo clarinet and also performed with students and faculty in improvisations.
I t was an honor to be invited back for my second year as a Barlow intern. Similar to the previous year, I found this year to be a very rewarding experience for me as a composer. The focus was upon unaccompanied choral music. It was gratifying to learn that music for choirs is alive and well in the 21st century. As I listened to comments from a different set of adjudicators, I gained increased understanding of the stringent requirements for those who enter such a prestigious competition. The judges are looking for more than just skillful writing and technical proficiency. Pieces that sounded traditional, conventional or derivative were generally dismissed after the first few pages. Pieces that sounded hackneyed or full of clichés were also removed. The judges were looking for sounds that were fresh, innovative, and even cutting-edge. They liked unusual textures and especially unusual uses of the human voice.
However it was not enough to have a bunch of interesting sounds. The music needed to have a clear sense of direction and movement toward important points. The formal organization and pacing needed to be appropriate for what the composer was trying to convey. Finally there is an elusive quality of excellence in which the composer in collaboration with the performers creates an unforgettable effect on the listeners.
On the practical side, some of the entries failed to follow the rules. The composers needed to present one piece that demonstrated the type of music they were planning to write and a different piece that would also highlight their best efforts. They needed to include an audio CD (not MP3) with the tracks clearly indicated on the CD cover. As before, an excellent performance was very helpful.
I was fascinated by the variety of opinions expressed by the adjudicators. Much seems to depend on individual temperaments, experience and preferences. That is why it takes a whole team to come to a consensus. A most valuable contribution was made by the choral conductors who will be rehearsing and performing the music. It was a privilege for me to be a part of this event. I plan to apply much of what I have learned to my future composing.
B eing an intern for the Barlow Endowment this summer was a remarkable and memorable experience for me. I learned many things that will help me become a more successful composer, not only in the future but immediately. It was an honor and delight to observe the judges – all of whom were established composers and directors. I also enjoyed getting to know them as people and to talk with them about how they have become successful composers. What a blessing it was for me to have the unique opportunity to tap into such a great wealth of knowledge and wisdom.
It was particularly interesting to hear the judges discuss each piece in the competition because I personally try to enter as many composition competitions as I can. I now know some of the things judges are looking for in competition pieces. I learned the value of catering to the specifics of a competition with my entry. My opinion of good new music has changed in a positive way by listening to the judges. It was good to see what excited them, what things were boring or unwanted, and to hear exactly what they are looking for so that I can employ those things into my own music. I felt like the judges really reached out to me and used this time to give me advice and educate me about how I can be successful.
There were many compositions submitted to the competition that were intelligent masterpieces. I learned much from simply hearing and looking at the scores of other composers from around the world. Now I feel more excited than ever about the modern trends in new music and the direction it is headed. I also feel a boost of confidence now that I know what contemporary musicians are looking for from my compositions.
Overall, my experience as an intern for the Barlow Endowment has been very valuable to me and I am excited to employ the things I have learned into my own music.
I was grateful for the opportunity to be a Barlow Intern for the second time. I felt that I was better prepared for what to expect and could focus my energy into particular things that I wanted to accomplish.
I went into the competition this year without worry about the applications or the judging process. I knew what to expect from that. What I wanted most was to spend time with the people who were judging and find out how they have become successful composers. These judges, at some point in their lives, have been where I am now. It’s a difficult time of transitioning from school to career and I wanted to find out sooner rather than later how to better make this transition. The judges were so helpful and open and did not spare any details of their journey as a composer. This was very encouraging and has given me the extra push that I need to continue forward.
I am always surprised by the diversity of entries that come into the competition. There were far more international entries this year than I remember seeing two years ago. It is fascinating to see the kind of music currently being written all over the world. Sometimes, as a composer, I feel like I am the only one out there, but there really are so many of us striving to create and discover music with our own creative voice. The Barlow Endowment allows us to see all that creativity in one place. Music truly is a living art that can be appreciated by all cultures and people.
This is the last opportunity for me to be a Barlow Intern before I graduate from Brigham Young University. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity. I have heard tons of amazing music from all around the world, but most of all I gained hope and excitement for my future as a composer.
I am very grateful I could serve as a Barlow intern for a second year. If possible, I feel that I learned more this time! I knew how valuable the experience was the previous year and came prepared to learn even more. I tried to glean all I could from the Board of Advisors and guest judges. During the judging, I took note of the compliments and criticisms they gave the music. I felt like I was attending marathon composition master classes. One of the best parts was watching the outstanding submissions rise to the top. I was able to see very clearly what characteristics set those composers’ music apart from the rest.
During meals and activities we discussed educational and professional opportunities. These conversations were real treasures for me – to be learning so much from such qualified and expert people in my field. Each member of the Board of Advisors, all composition professors, took the time to talk with me. I particularly appreciated David Rakowski’s advice on which doctoral programs to look into and Stacy Garrop’s counsel about being assertive in getting my music out there to competitions and musicians. Christian Asplund, Todd Coleman, and Ethan Wickman have all followed career paths similar to the one I hope to pursue as composer/professor, and they all had very timely advice and experiences which they shared freely.
I had fascinating conversations with each of the guest judges as well. On the hike to Cecret Lake, BBC Singers producer Michael Emery talked with me about choral music. At a dinner Mark Winges and I discussed his job as composer-in-residence for the choir Volti in San Francisco. During one lunch I talked with Edward Reichel about music criticism and also about his studies in Denmark with one of my favorite composers, Per Norgard. On the hike and ski lift down from Hidden Peak, Kaspars Putnins told me about musical life in Latvia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Overall, the spirit of camaraderie, respect, and mutual interest from such world-class musicians was a totally positive boost for me as a young composer.
It would be impossible to talk about the Barlow experience without mentioning the music. Over the course of three days I heard music from many of today’s active composers. Hearing so much music, it seemed very clear which composers distinguished themselves “from the pack,” as it were. During the judging of the Barlow Prize competition for a choral work, it became very clear which contemporary choral techniques are on the verge of cliché, which composers had a truly original voice, and who commanded the highest standards of all-around technical and artistic excellence. It was comparable to a semester’s worth of compositional training rolled into a three-day crash course.
Going forward I am extremely excited to use what I have learned in my compositions as I apply to doctoral programs and as I launch my professional career as a composer. I feel there is no reason to be afraid or to wait to try and get my music out there. I’d like to thank Rebecca Ott, Stephen Jones, Thomas Durham, and everyone responsible for allowing me this pivotal experience. Special thanks to the Barlow family for the amazing work the Endowment does for composers and new music all around the world. This has been a truly world-class opportunity!
Barlow Board of Advisors
C anadian-American, composer-performer Christian Asplund’s interests include intersections of text/music, improvisation/composition, and modular textures/forms. He has received awards from the Genesis Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, Artistrust, King County, ASCAP, the Alpert Foundation, and the Jack Straw Foundation. His teachers have included Thea Musgrave, Alvin Curran, Michael Hicks, David Sargent, Joel Durand, and John Rahn. He has performed with Stuart Dempster, Malcolm Goldstein, Christian Wolff, and John Butcher. His music appears on Present Sounds, Tzadik, Sparkling Beatnik, and other labels, and his compositions have been performed and broadcast in many locations including Europe, North America, and Australia. His scores are published by Frog Peak Music. He has written books and articles for Perspectives of New Music (University of Washington Press)and American Music(University of Illinois Press). His most recent project was three marathon performances on piano of the complete works of Thelonious Monk in Utah, Washington, and New York. Words used by the press to describe his music include: passion, panoramic power, pure pointillist, plaintive, painstaking, rhythmically toothy, rocking, remarkable, rollicking, searing, subdued, soothing, submersive, splendid, unique, ethereal, mesmerizing, mind-blowing, otherworldly, absorbing, intelligent, idiosyncratic, distinctive, captivating, and bewitching. He lives in Provo, Utah where he teaches at Brigham Young University.
T odd Coleman is the coordinator of the Music Production and Recording Arts program at Elon University. In the five years since the new degree program’s launch, the number of available majors has grown from two to more than forty. Coleman’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, commissioned by the Barlow Endowment and premiered by April Clayton and the BYU Chamber Orchestra, was released by the Tantara label. At Elon University, Coleman arranged, engineered, and produced a new song by Charlotte Smith to launch a campaign against racial intolerance. He was also commissioned by the university to compose a new 12-minute work for orchestra, large chorus, and rhythm section for the premiere at a special President’s Gala in the spring of 2013. This new work, Invarietate Concordia (Many and One), is a celebration of the rich diversity of the peoples of the earth and an ode to shared ambitions and universal brotherhood. Coleman is also currently working on a new commission for string quartet and organ by the Ciompi Quartet, with a premiere in October 2013.
S tacy Garrop is the recipient of a 2012 Fromm Music Foundation commission from Harvard University. Her recent premieres include Helios, commissioned by the Gaudete Brass Quintet for brass quintet; Jubilation, commissioned for piano trio by WFMT 98.7 FM in honor of their 60th anniversary; Athena Triumphant, commissioned by the Mohammadi family for string quartet; Love’s Philosophy for mixed choir, commissioned by Cantori of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges; and The Book of American Poetry, Volumes III and IV for mezzo-soprano and small ensemble for the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players. Other recent performances of her works have been given by the Avalon Quartet, Lincoln Trio, Fifth House Ensemble, Northwestern University Contemporary Music Ensemble, Orion Ensemble, Tetra String Quartet, Chicago a cappella, Radio y Televisión Española Choir of Madrid, Volti, Chicago Composers Orchestra, and the Nashua Symphony. Cedille Records recently released her music on two compilation CDs. The first CD, titled Songs of Smaller Creatures, features the Grant Park Chorus and contains Stacy’s Sonnets of Desire, Longing, and Whimsy. The second CD, titled Chicago Moves, was recorded by the Gaudete Brass Quintet and contains her work Helios. Stacy served as a composition faculty member for Fifth House Ensemble’s inaugural fresh inc. festival in the summer of 2012.
I n 2012 David Rakowski finished his fourth symphony, Scare Quotes, with four movements built around musical quotes from pieces written by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Mahler. Its premiere was held in October with the New England Philharmonic, of which he is currently the Composer in Residence. He also wrote his second book of ten piano preludes, published by CF Peters. His new soprano saxophone and flute duo, Exact Change, was performed in the US, Italy, and Ireland, and his saxophone quartet, Compass, was performed internationally by several of the quartets that commissioned it. His piano reimagining of Sondheim’s The Ladies Who Lunch was featured at the New York premiere of Anthony de Mare’s Liaisons project. Boston Modern Orchestra Project began recording a second CD of his orchestral music entitled Stolen Moments. In October he visited the campus of Brigham Young University to present a Barlow Lecture, where he also gave composition lessons and coached performers on his music. At Ithaca College School of Music, he was the Karel Husa Visiting Professor of Music.
T his past year brought about many wonderful opportunities, as well as many changes. This summer, Ethan Wickman won the Harvey Phillips Award for Excellence in Composition from the International Tuba Euphonium Association for his euphonium ensemble work, Summit. Another piece, Three Expeditions, was selected as a competition work in the artist division for solo euphoniumists at the International Tuba Euphonium Conference in Linz, Austria. The piece was also a required competition piece for the 2012 Leonard Falcone Tuba and Euphonium Festival. A major new work for chorus and orchestra, Let The Word Go Forth, based on presidential speeches of John F. Kennedy, was commissioned for premiere at the Kennedy Center in February 2013. Wickman is also contributing a new work to pianist Nicholas Phillips’ new CD project, American Vernacular. In the fall of 2012, he accepted a position at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Barlow Board of Directors
Stephen M. Jones
Alice Barlow Jones
Scott M. Boyter