he Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University proudly announces the 2019 Commission winners. After reviewing 276 submissions from 28 countries, the judging panel awarded Bekah Simms of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the 2019 Barlow Prize for $12,000 to compose a major new work for Pierrot Ensemble with percussion and electronics. Dr. Simms hails from St. John’s, Newfoundland but is currently Toronto-based. JUNO Award-nominated composer Bekah Simms’ varied output has been heralded as “nuanced and complex” (NOW Magazine) and “cacophonous, jarring, oppressive — and totally engrossing!” (CBC Music). Her music has been widely broadcast in Canada and the United States; performed across Canada, in over a dozen American states, Italy, Germany, Austria, Lithuania, and the UK and interpreted by a diverse range of top-tier performers including Esprit Orchestra, Continuum Contemporary Music, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, the Madawaska Quartet, Ensemble Paramirabo, TorQ Percussion Quartet, and Duo Concertante. Dr. Simms has been the recipient of over 25 awards and prizes, including the 2017 Toronto Emerging Composer Award and the 2018 Karen Kieser Prize in Canadian Music. Her work “Granitic” was nominated for the 2019 JUNO Award for Classical Composition of the Year.
General and LDS Commission RecipientsA
fter considering 200 applications in our General and LDS commissioning programs, the Endowment granted $87,000 to fifteen composers who will write works for the following ensembles and musicians:
|LDS Commission Recipients||Ensemble(s)|
|Andrew Maxfield||Salt Lake Symphony|
|Alyssa Morris||Agnon Quartet|
|Steven Ricks||Richmond Symphony Orchestra & Andrés Diaz|
|Kyle Shaw||Daniel Edwards|
|Joseph Sowa||Hub New Music|
||Ned McGowan & Bart De Vrees|
|Benjamin Taylor||Symphonic Youth Orchestra of Greater Indianapolis|
|Craig Woodward||Adam Woodward|
A number of significant milestones lent 2019 a special significance for the Barlow Endowment. Early in the year, we were thrilled to learn that The Crossing’s recording of Barlow-commissioned Zealot Canticles by Lansing McCloskey was awarded a 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance. Later in the spring, at the Beijing Modern Music Festival, Alberto Colla’s Barlow Prize-commissioned orchestral work, Ode by the Earth, was premiered. Colla’s work, like McCloskey’s, represent astonishing contributions to the field of composition. Not only do these pieces demonstrate expertise in their craftsmanship, they are also works of great impact and meaning. However, these are but two of many works of similar profile that the Endowment has helped launch into the world over the past few decades It is a gift to participate in such an endeavor.
At the summer meetings we welcomed members of Eighth Blackbird, Crash Ensemble, and the New York New Music Ensemble to adjudicate and award our first ever commission for Pierrot + percussion sextet with electronics. The array of wonderfully inventive music submitted by composers the world over led to fascinating discussions and planted seeds for future collaborations. In addition to the Barlow Prize (awarded to Canadian composer Bekah Simms), the Board awarded commissions to a diverse array of 15 other composers—all in various stages of their careers—in our General and Latter-day Saint categories. Financially, it was something of a banner year and Endowment funds were distributed generously.
While each summer brings personnel changes as members of our Board of Advisors come and go, 2019 was particularly bittersweet because of a staff member change. After serving the endowment since its inception, our financial officer, Scott Boyter, bid us farewell by his retirement. Scott was a valuable member of our family. A masterful steward of endowment funds, he also provided a direct link to the earliest days of the Barlow Endowment and its initial objectives as laid out by its founders. Scott’s talents were an ongoing testament to the fact that the dissemination of great art relies not only upon the hands and minds of the artists, but also upon the gifts of those that manage the means that make that dissemination possible. This past summer also represented the fulfillment of Dan Bradshaw’s years of excellent service on the Board of Advisors. We will miss his steady, balanced, and insightful voice in our deliberations. Despite those departures, we enthusiastically welcomed recognized composers, Chen Yi and Benjamin Sabey, to the Board of Advisors. Each is exceptionally accomplished and each will make a wonderful contribution in the years to come.
A s an intern with the Barlow Endowment, I really benefitted from the experiences and opportunities provided to me. It was greatly rewarding to be able to listen to the judges during the judging process and glean what kinds of things make up a good composition. Their depth of knowledge and their assessment of taste were astounding to observe. It was a privilege to listen to their remarks, internalize them, and apply them to my own music and compositional process.
Without any doubt, I am a better creator and musician than I was before this experience because of the expertise of the judges and their incredible willingness to reach out to us individually. Their desire to mentor, encourage, and connect with us was so kind and helped me think about all the paths I could take with my music. I was incredibly influenced by many remarks made about music and the purpose of music as a means to help people grow and create and to make people’s lives better. The insight offered by the judges helped me recognize the many different ways I could use music to positively affect those around me and how music could have real effects on people. Their comments changed the way I view music and inspired me to be more focused on how much more music and people can be connected.
I would like to thank the Barlow family for making this opportunity available to me and other college students. This was a tremendous opportunity to be a part of an organization that values and promotes music and I am thankful for the kindness and generosity shown towards me and everyone involved. I am very lucky to have been able to be a part of the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition competition.
M y work as an intern with the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition has been transformative. The experience exposed me to a wide range of ideas being expressed by innovative composers. This kind of hands-on musical interaction is invaluable as I seek to form a vision of myself and my music.
It was especially interesting to observe the judging process. I found myself making lists of composers whose work I would like to examine in the future. I jotted down interesting musical approaches that I would like to try for my own work. In this sense, the internship has opened the door for deeper learning down the road.
In particular, I was struck with the Barlow Endowment’s support of the work of Latter-day Saint composers. I have subsequently pondered the ways that creative work and faith can reinforce one another. I feel empowered to pursue artistic excellence through the lens of religious devotion.
Most memorable, were the positive interactions shared with the judges who represent performers and composers in contemporary music. I was struck by their warmth, friendliness, and openness. The insights and perspectives they shared about music, community, and personal development will be valuable to me as I move forward with my artistic pursuits.
This experience is made possible by the support of the Barlow family and I would like to express my deepest gratitude for their generosity.
I nterning with Barlow was a great experience. Hearing 150+ pieces by composers from all over the world gave me more context to see within my own music. Hearing trends and tropes pop up in piece after piece was eye opening. Since novelty is such an important creative ingredient of new music, an awareness of what other current composers are working on is valuable. I learned that boldness, although not a direct measure of artistic quality, is key for any aspiring composer to be noticed. This is especially important in a contest environment like the Barlow where each judge hears so many pieces.
The most educational part of my experience as an intern was listening to and speaking with the judges. Hearing their reactions and discussions of the submissions was very insightful. I feel like my aesthetic intuitions have been sharpened by observing each judge’s personality and taste. I was surprised how many opportunities there were to chat with them and how approachable they each were. I am a shy person by nature and was initially concerned that picking judges’ brains about different matters would be difficult, but I felt welcomed and at ease around them. They were always happy to answer questions and were even inquisitive about my own work.
I walked away from this internship with more confidence in myself as an artist and a more detailed perspective of the world of new music today. I would like to sincerely thank the Barlow family for facilitating these experiences and for promoting creativity and beauty in the world in general.
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the Barlow Endowment’s internship program. Perhaps just as valuable as any of my schooling during the year, if not more valuable, the internship has given me real insight as to what a career can look like after a formal education in music composition is complete.
While processing applications for the Prize, General, and LDS commissions, I saw the breadth of types of people, jobs, and places that composition can take you, the types of music people are writing all over the world, and specifically the kinds of pieces of music that people are submitting as their strongest work for consideration to win a commission. When judging began, I learned the things the judges favored and critiqued as they reviewed every submission.
One judge pointed out to me that the music that rose to the top of the field in this competition should not be thought of as representative of the body of what would be considered today’s successful new music. Rather, that the competition circuit is just a portion of what the composition world looks like today and if a particular piece does not do well in these types of evaluations, it does not mean that the same piece would not be more successful when judged through lenses outside the competition circuit.
While I am grateful to have learned what makes a successful competition submission piece, I am perhaps more grateful for the chance I had to see the interactions between the guest judges, advisors and administrators. I saw what a supportive community the composition world is and that there are many different ways to participate in it.
Thanks to the Barlow family for this valuable experience.
Barlow Board of Advisors
D uring 2019, Dr. Chen Yi was inducted as a life member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City. Other tributes include an Honoree with Life-time Achievement Award during the Chen Dance Center’s 40th Anniversary in New York City and recipient of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Research/Creative Activity Award from the University of Missiouri-Kansas City Conservatory. She experienced three premieres of her works across the US and in Hong Kong. Introduction, Andante, and Allegro for orchestra was performed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, WA on February 6, 2019. The Grossman Ensemble, the 13-member performing coalition is the most prominent element of University of Chicago’s newly launched Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition (CCCC), premiered Fire on March 15th. Most recently, Plum Blossom was premiered at the 5th Hong Kong International Piano Competition in Hong Kong.
* Chen is family name, Yi is personal name. Chen Yi can be referred to Dr. Chen, Prof. Chen, Ms. Chen, or Chen Yi, but not Dr. Yi, Prof. Yi, or Ms. Yi.
S ituated on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by one of the most international student bodies in the US, composer Daniel Bradshaw deals with a variety of influences, from classical traditions to rock idioms, to the timing of waves, to the rhythms of Polynesian drumming. Professional honors include awards from the American Music Center, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, and the American Composers Orchestra. His most recent work, On the Cooler (solo steel pan), was commissioned by Daniel Edwards and performed in Urbana-Champaign, IL. Other recent projects include Mimic Octopus, a collaborative composition with the fourth-grade students of Laie Elementary, and At Full Strength for orchestra, with planned performances at BYU (Provo, UT) and the Keneewaw Symphony Orchestra (Houghton, MI).
Dan received his doctoral degree in Music Composition from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where he studied with Claude Baker, Sven-David Sandström and David Dzubay. He is the son of the late composer Merrill Bradshaw, whose music continues to inspire him.
orothy Chang serves as a Professor of Music at the University of British Columbia School of Music. Her music is rooted in the Western art music tradition but often reflects the eclectic mix of musical influences from her youth, ranging from popular and folk music to elements of traditional Chinese music. Highlights from 2019 include performances of her music by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Kansas City Chamber Orchestra and Northwest Philharmonia, and the world premiere of her work Timekeepers for mixed Chinese and Western ensemble at the San Francisco International Arts Festival. Other highlights include performances of her chamber music at the 2019 Asian Saxophone Congress in Shanghai, and by Bent Frequency, the Cantus Ensemble (Croatia), Helton-Thomas Duo, Land’s End Ensemble, Sound of Dragon (Singapore) and the Ultraviolet Ensemble. Dorothy also served as the composition instructor for the 2019 Orford Academy of Music in Quebec. Currently, she lives with her husband and daughter in Vancouver, British Columbia.
eil Thornock is Associate Professor of music composition at Brigham Young University and is an associate director of the School of Music. In January 2018, he premiered Motet, his 80-minute work for piano and electronics. Three of his works were performed at the national congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, in conjunction with the publication of thirteen of his carillon works. Firehead Editions published the second volume of The Millennium Book, featuring twenty short works for organ. He also received commissions from cellist Michelle Kesler, for her residency at De Chelly National Park, and from violist Devan Freebairn. In November, he performed Earth, from his Planetarium for organ and electronics, at University of Texas San Antonio.
fter receiving a “Presidential Leave Award” from the president of San Francisco State University (SFSU) which relieved me of my teaching load to focus on composition, I mainly worked on three major new works. I finished “Suspend Alight,” a 2017 Barlow Commission for the Mivos Quartet and I wrote a new 30+ minute work for piano and electronics entitled “The Wine Dark Sea” for my duo, the Bacchetto/Sabey Duo. Additionally, I completed a new piece entitled “Rare Bird” for Ensemble Phase, an ensemble from Seoul, Korea made up of five traditional Korean instruments. Performances of “The Wine Dark Sea” piece will begin to take place fall 2020. ”Rare Bird” was premiered at SFSU and the Center for New Music in San Francisco during the first week of November 2019. This piece received its Asian premiere on December 15, 2019 in Seoul. I traveled to Seoul for the performance and to participate in a workshop on my music with students and community members
Barlow Board of Directors
Nancy Barlow Cox