2015 Report

T
he Barlow Education Grant supports students and faculty of the BYU School of Music in their education and their professional endeavors in music composition.
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Steven RicksProfessor
BYU School of Music

Students

A large share of the Education Grant funds go towards direct student support by way of scholarships, assistantships, internships, and travel awards and fee support for festivals and performances. Funds also provide support for guest composers and performers who work directly with students.

Established in 2011, the Milton A. Barlow Scholarship and the Barlow Student Composition Award are ongoing scholarships and 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 award that carries with it 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 to the recognition these awards bring to the Endowment.

The recipient of the 2015 Milton A. Barlow Scholarship and the 2015 Barlow Student Composition Award was David Jones, a first-year master’s student in music composition. David was an impressive applicant who has already developed a strong personal style and compositional technique. He had already written some shorter works for various large ensembles, so he was a good candidate for both the award and the scholarship, which provided him with a strong incentive to attend BYU.

As recipient of the Barlow Student Composition Award, he was commissioned to write a new work for the BYU Chamber Orchestra. His completed work, Aspen, was premiered on March 31, 2016, in the de Jong Concert Hall under the direction of Kory Katseanes, who commented about David’s piece:

It was a pleasure for everyone in the orchestra. I could tell from the start that the orchestra loved playing David’s piece. It is just a terrific piece and it was always fun to rehearse. It has great balance and pace, with something for everyone that challenges and at the same time rewards. That’s no small feat; there are many new pieces that challenge, but don’t quite give back in equal measure. But David found the right balance. When a piece is really good, during the performance it seems to be easier and better than it ever felt in rehearsal. It sort of emerges out of its rehearsal shell and becomes a new piece. Only really good pieces do that, and David’s piece did. During the rehearsals I always thought it was a good piece, then during the performance I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this really IS a good piece.’ It was fun to experience that.

In September 2016, David was selected as one of five finalists in the EarShot Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Composers Competition. His piece, Aspen, will be workshopped and performed while David works with composers Melinda Wagner, Michael Schelle, and Robert Beaser. If selected, his work will be performed as part of the Indiana State University’s 50th Anniversary Contemporary Music Festival on Thursday, October 27, 2016 in Terre Haute, IN.

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David JonesMM Music Composition

August 2015 marked the 11th year BYU student interns have assisted with the annual Barlow summit and Barlow Prize and commissions judging. The Barlow Internship opportunity has been a great boost to the program and we look forward to its continuation.

Four of our students—Joachim Austin, Tyler Lee Gardner, Erik Maloy, and Christopher Morrison—helped prepare for the annual summit by coordinating hundreds of scores, recordings, and other materials that would be used in the judging process. They attended the summit, 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 firsthand while assisting in the various rooms, but also had several opportunities to interact directly with these professional composers and performers.

Barlow funds support performances and residencies by guest performers every year—something that provides important exposure to our students and that also often allows our students to work closely with performers in workshops and reading sessions. As such, we were pleased to host the Lydian String Quartet for a short time in November. The Lydians are an accomplished ensemble in residence at Brandeis University who have years of experience with new music, and who were one of the consortium members for the 2008 Barlow Prize. They presented an evening concert that featured an exciting program of three works written specifically for them by composers Lee Hyla, Harold Meltzer, and Kurt Rohde. The group also rehearsed and recorded new works written by nine of our composition students specifically for their visit. The students completed the pieces prior to the group’s visit, and then each had nearly 30 minutes to work with the Lydians in Studio Y. Each composer’s session with the Lydians was recorded so the students could listen to the feedback, give specialized input to the performers, use the recording of their piece to get additional feedback, and include it with their portfolio when applying to graduate school or for awards.

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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.

 In March, UC Berkeley professor Ken Ueno visited campus to present a Barlow Lecture, teach composition lessons, and participate in a BYU Group for New Music concert. BYU faculty composer and organist Neil Thornock presented one of Ken’s solo organ works, and Ken presented his unique brand of extended vocal techniques in a solo improvisation, and also presented a trio improvisation with BYU faculty composers and performers Christian Asplund and Steven Ricks.

In October, Seattle-based composer and Cornish School faculty member Jarrad Powell visited campus to present a Barlow Lecture and to attend the premiere of a new carillon work he wrote for Neil Thornock to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the BYU carillon. Barlow monies supported part of the commissioning funds for the new work, and also supported other aspects of Dr. Thornock’s commemoration.

Barlow funds often provide travel support and cover ticket expenses for performances that students attend off campus. For example, in December faculty member Steven Ricks accompanied several composition students to a Utah Symphony concert that included the premiere of a new work by composer Nico Muhly.

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Ken Ueno
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Jarrad Powell
Nico Muhly
Nico Muhly

Faculty

Barlow funding, as listed below, continues to support worthy faculty projects and activities as a way of increasing the profile and reputation of the composition area. These projects and activities ensure our faculty are in the best position to instruct the students in current trends and practices of composition.

  • Residency of Christian Asplund and Steven Ricks in Amsterdam. They worked with composers and musicians for future collaboration with BYU facutly and students. During the residency the duo performed at STEIM, the Netherlands’ premiere electronic music center. The performance also included group improvisations with performers Oguz Buyukberber, Laura Carmichael, Ned McGowan, and Naomi Sato.

  • Michael Hicks’ CD: Felt Hammers: The Complete Solo Piano Music, 1982-2010, performed by Keith Kirchoff (Tantara Records)

  • Steven Ricks’ CD: Young American Inventions (New Focus Recordings)