The Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University proudly announces commission winners for 2021. After reviewing 574 submissions from 41 countries, the judging panel awarded Texu Kim of Korea/USA, the $12,000 Barlow Prize to compose a major new work for Sinfonietta, to be premiered by Alarm Will Sound, The London Sinfonietta, The Oakland Symphony Orchestra, and The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in 2023-2024.
Korean-born American composer Texu Kim’s works have been performed by New York Philharmonic, Oregon Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, New World Symphony, National Orchestra of Korea, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Ensemble Modern, Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Oakland Symphony and San Diego Symphony, among many others. His music has earned honors and awards from Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Copland House, and SCI/ASCAP Commission Competition. Having served as the Composer-in-Residence of the Korean Symphony Orchestra and having taught at Lewis & Clark College, Portland State University, and Syracuse University, Texu teaches at San Diego State University as an assistant professor of music composition and theory and serves as Artist-of-the-Year at the Busan Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also the curator of the New Music Symposium hosted by the Korean Cultural Society of Boston.
The judging panel included the Endowment’s Board of Advisors: Neil Thornock, Chen Yi, Ben Sabey, Benjamin Taylor and Miguel Del Aguila; and guest judge Tania León. John Kendall Bailey (Oakland Symphony Orchestra), Paul Finkelstein (St. Paul Chamber Orchestra), Gavin Chuck (Alarm Will Sound), and Paul Silverthorne (London Sinfonietta) represented the performing consortium in selecting the Barlow Prize.
General and LDS Commission Recipients
FROM 242 APPLICATIONS REPRESENTING 15 DIFFERENT COUNTRIES
NINE TALENTED COMPOSERS
WERE AWARDED GENERAL AND LATTER-DAY SAINTS COMMISSIONS
Each year the Barlow Endowment grows and develops in new ways and 2021 was no exception. In January, Daniel Bradshaw began his tenure as Executive Director. Dan’s years of experience as a Barlow applicant and winner, along with his service on the Board of Advisors, contributed to a professional and dynamic summer meeting session.
Building on lessons learned last year, initial judging rounds took place remotely prior to a happy return to the beautiful mountains of Snowbird for the 2021 summer judging. Wonderful representatives from this year’s prize consortium joined our Board of Advisors and Pulitzer Prize winning composer, Tania Leon, to select Texu Kim as the 2021 Barlow Prize winner.
This summer we bid a sad farewell to Rebecca Ott, who retired from her position at BYU in August 2021. Rebecca’s work as the Barlow Administrator for nearly twenty years has been outstanding and her incredible knowledge and impeccable management will be sorely missed. It takes two people to replace her – Francie Jenson has accepted the position as the new administrator and Esther Grover is quickly becoming our in-house Barlow Endowment expert as the Barlow Program Assistant.
Other changes in personnel in 2021 include saying goodbye to Neil Thornock at the close of his five-year term as a Barlow Advisor. We are indeed grateful for Neil’s expertise, counsel, and overall contribution to the Endowment! We wish him well in his future endeavors. Chanda Dancy-Morizawa and Kevin Anthony have both accepted three-year terms on the Board of Advisors beginning January 2022. We look forward to working with them.
Plans are moving forward for a 40th anniversary celebration of the Barlow Endowment. This multi-day event will take place in February 2024 in the new BYU Music Building currently under construction. We look forward to a memorable celebration of Barlow composers, performers, and compositions in this beautiful new space.
It is always gratifying for us to see the fruits of our labors as Barlow prize winning composers are recognized for their talent. 2019 General Commission winner, Andy Akiho, composed a new work for percussion quartet, “Seven Pillars”. This piece earned Andy a 2022 GRAMMY® nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. The work consists of eleven movements – seven quartets and one solo for each member of Sandbox Percussion, who also received a nomination for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance. Successes like these are thrilling to see.
I’m continually grateful for the foresight of Milt and Gloria Barlow who founded this endowment. It has produced benefits and blessings to generations of composers. The Barlow family continues to participate and support this effort and we are grateful to them.
was happy to be a part of the Barlow Competition, hosted at Snowbird resort, and I’d like to first thank the Barlow family for making the event possible, and for their funding to host the interns and judges and other guests and administrators. I felt well taken care of and privileged to be able to participate in the inner workings of this great event.
I learned so much by just being able to observe the proceedings of the competition. I listened to the judges’ discussions of the pieces that we were hearing and it was interesting to hear how they agreed or disagreed, and the predominant criteria that each judge had for measuring, and the process whereby they came to a consensus. I learned that a prevailing criterion was to find music that is well crafted, and produces a sense of motion and direction toward a goal, and music that moves the listener. Another important consideration was how well they wrote or would seemingly be able to write for their proposed commission if they won the prize.
I took my own notes on some of the pieces, and it was interesting to see how my notes lined up with what the judges later commented on the pieces, and also where we differed. The combined meetings to decide the winners were also interesting in that some lively musical discussions ensued. There were diametrical disagreements, and a range of perspectives, but each judge was able to put aside their own personal idiosyncratic preferences to make way for the consensus that would allow for the unanimous decision of the winners.
Some of the other topics that came up include: the visual aspect of music, where the visual element of the work can’t be divorced from the work itself. One of the judges requested clarification on pieces such as this to know if they should judge only the musical aspect, or if the visual aspect should be considered. This information would also be helpful to pass along to the composers to set expectations.
It was great to get to know my fellow composers better, and to meet other composers, performers, and conductors and administrators, and to see their journeys as we crossed paths briefly in the mountains for this wonderful event.
G etting to talking the judges at the Barlow and listening to them discuss the submissions honestly changed my understanding of good music completely. While there was a huge variety of music submitted, I noticed several distinct qualities that all the judges seemed to be looking for. Among these qualities was novelty, development, quality of music, and orchestration.
I notice that one of the fastest ways for a piece to be eliminated was because of a lack of novelty. That doesn’t mean that “old sounding” music is bad, it just wasn’t what the Barlow was looking for. For example there was one LDS submission that was just sublime choral music, which would be so successful in many other settings, just not in this competition because it was too “textbook.” The submissions that got the most attention were the ones that had a unique sound even when compared with other modern pieces. Some pieces even lacked novelty because they just sounded like some trying too hard to make modernist music, like having heavy repeating rhythms, or dissonant chords that did nothing to help the development of the piece.
Speaking of which, development was another important aspect the judges were looking for. I think I heard every single judge mention something about development while discussing the music, even though that was not one of the standards explicitly set forth at the beginning of the judging (the original standards were quality and novelty), which definitely says something about its importance. All the judges wanted to hear a message or story in the music. They wanted to be taken through the music by the music, whether this was in an emotional or intellectual sense, not just through a lot of interesting sounds or textures.
Quality of music seemed to be just as important as development, but a lot harder to define. The judges generally seemed to be looking for music that clearly had a lot of thought and study put into it. You could tell the difference between music that was just slapped together, and music that was an extension of some musical style or that had some profound meaning behind its structure etc. Speaking of which, all the judges had such a vast knowledge of modern composers and trends, which helped them understand the thought processes behind a lot of the pieces, and which also made me realize that I am way behind in being up to date with modern music and I need to catch up.
Last of all, orchestration was another frequently mentioned musical quality. I admit that orchestration is something I know very little of, and I don’t exactly know what makes good orchestration. I could tell that the pieces the judges seemed most interested in sounded very balanced in their uses of instruments, so I assume that is related to the orchestration, but this is something else I realized I’m lacking in and want to study further.
Thank you again for this incredible opportunity. As I said before, it was extremely eye-opening to me on what is most important in music as well as what subjects I need to understand better. I hope I can have this opportunity in future years so that I can come back and compare what I’ve learned from this year.
y experience as a Barlow Intern has proven to be one of the highlights of my
college career. Not only was I able to learn about the competition and what judges look
for, but more importantly I was able to meet and talk with so many talented composers.
On the first day of judging I was able to listen to my judges who talked about the
good and bad of each application. They always had something good to say, which was
encouraging, but they also had a clear method to choose who they wanted to send
forward to the finals. My second pair of judges worked faster, but they clearly were
working in a similar fashion.From this I’ve learned how important it is to truly consider
what the ensemble is when applying for the Barlow Prize, but also to any competition in
The positive comments made by all of the judges through the week, as well as
their clear criteria also helped me to feel more positive about my own music and
compositional process. Just because something doesn’t do well in a competition, that
isn’t a perfect indication of it’s quality or value.
Before this experience, I didn’t know a great deal about the Barlow competition. I
knew there was a Prize, but I didn’t know about the General or LDS commission
categories. Seeing the money that is available to composers and ensembles made me
consider applying for those categories if the Prize doesn’t fit how or what I write that
Perhaps the most encouraging thing about this experience, though, was seeing
how even those who didn’t make the finals may have opportunities in the future. I heard
multiple ensemble judges and regular judges say that outside of the competition they
were going to see about working with some applicants. The fact that a competition like
the Barlow is an opportunity to get your name in front of people is something I hadn’t
I am incredibly grateful to the Barlow family and the Barlow in general for
allowing me this opportunity. Truly, I can say it has both reenergized me as a composer
and exposed me to people and opportunities I never could have imagined. I plan to
apply for Barlow in the coming years. Being in Snowbird with so many talented people
and having conversations with them is something I will be forever grateful for.
his report may be a bit scatterbrained; I have taken in an inordinate amount of very
enlightening information over the past few days, and I am still processing it. The report will
more closely resemble a series of bullet points than a coherent and organized message with a
thesis and related points/evidences.
Working with the judges, both in preliminary and final rounds, brought several new ideas
and concepts to my attention, as well as illuminated the process of the judging end of a
composition competition. Specifically regarding competitions, I learned what judges are looking
for and what they aren’t, what kind of music is being submitted and what makes it to the final
round, and the particularly important point that judges and ensemble directors remember the
names of submissions that stood out to them, regardless of whether or not they win. This leads
me to believe that submitting to as many competitions as possible, even if you feel strongly that
you won’t win, is vital to getting your name in front of musicians who like what you are doing.
Seeing what judges talked about (and what they didn’t) helped me get a better grasp on
what writing in our current day really means, and how important understanding modern
expectations actually is. Even more interesting than where they all agreed was where they didn’t.
Here are a few topics touched on during discussions that felt particularly profound:
● The dichotomy (potentially false) between emotion and intellect
● Extra-musical qualities of individual composers, such as degrees of success, minorities,
● Hybridization and its extensive history within classical music, particularly in regard to
● The importance of “traditional” elements of Western music, such as harmony, melody,
structure, expressivism, counterpoint, and clarity of gesture.
● American modernism
● The relationship between more conversative and more experimental music
● Reliance of many composers on complexity and textures
● Length of pieces and of ideas; many, many pieces were criticized for having good ideas
that lasted too long.
● Contrast between pieces that show an expansive vocabulary and skill set
These are among the many takeaways that I had while listening to the judges converse, both in
pairs and in the full group. I am extremely grateful to the judges for how they treated me and the
other interns; I felt as though I wasn’t lesser than them, and I quickly became more excited than I
was nervous to engage in conversation with them.
Although not expressly part of the internship, I learned a great deal from the time I had to
talk with the other interns. It helped me to flesh out ideas, learn new perspectives, and gain a
general sense of connection and community. I feel that in particular I learned a lot from Gustaf,
who has a vast amount of musical knowledge that he has clearly thought about a great deal, and
is remarkable at expressing himself in a very clear manner. Seeing other reactions to some of the
more controversial opinions some of the judges had allowed me to develop more nuanced
opinions and full understandings of those particular opinions.
I would like to finish my report by expressing my gratitude to the Barlow family. The
experience was life-changing, and has left me inspired. I have spent the majority of the past year
isolated from most anyone who appreciates and has the desire to engage in conversation about
music on anything but a surface-level, and I have found myself incapable of actually writing any
music as a result. But now I feel the need to start writing again. I feel as though I was paid (both
in actual money and in various expenses) to simultaneously vacation and gain priceless
experience, as well as feel connected to like minded individuals. This experience was
transformative for me as a young musician and composer, and as a young person in general, and
I’m not sure how I can adequately express my gratitude.
I am grateful for the opportunity I had to be an intern during the 2021 Barlow Endowment judging at Snowbird. I am especially grateful to the Barlow family for making the experience possible, and for their continuing support of the arts.
Sitting in on the judging experience was exhilarating and exhausting. The standard was high, competition was fierce, and each day I walked away from the judging questioning whether I should continue my studies or career as a composer. Certainly nothing I’ve written would have stood up to the criteria of our judges.
In the joint discussions of the finalists, it became clear that, even at the highest levels of music composition, the standards by which submissions seemed to be judged were largely subjective. The give and take between objective and subjective quality is a debate that never ceases. Such a realization was encouraging to me.
As a naturally shy person, it was difficult for me to ascertain those moments where it would be appropriate to approach the judges and learn from them outside of their deliberations. The judges seemed to be mostly alpha-type personalities, at least in this context, which intimidated me. So, I was largely content to just watch them.
It was a wonderful opportunity to interact with my classmates/composer-colleagues from BYU. We actually rarely do anything together in the major, and, for some, this internship was the first time I got a chance to know them and their music.
This peek behind the curtain was truly a singular experience. When I applied for the BYU composition program with virtually no theoretical knowledge or composing experience, I spent quite a while wondering how my feeble attempts at composing were being evaluated. My time as an intern has better equipped me with a foresight and self-awareness that will inform my compositional processes for the rest of my life. Again, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity.
Barlow Board of Advisors
N eil Thornock, professor of music composition at Brigham Young University, spent the first half of 2021 on research leave, focusing his creative efforts on alternative tunings. Much of his recent work is for piano tuned in extended just intonation and is scheduled for premiere in 2022. Other projects include works for just intonation ensemble and for retuned digital organ. Performances in 2021 included a work for organ performed by Huw Morgan of Bristol, England, and a work for unaccompanied violin performed by Adam Woodward. When not composing, Neil enjoys various activities with his wife and seven children.
D r. Chen Yi is a Distinguished Endowed Professor in Music Composition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory. Her music blends Chinese and Western traditions, transcending cultural and musical boundaries. Major performances of her compositions in 2021 have been heard in virtual concerts presented by New York Philharmonic (2/16), San Francisco Symphony (2/20), and National Symphony (4/26); live performances of art song Bright Moonlight performed by mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron in the States and Europe; guitar solo work Shuo Chang performed by all participants as the 39th GFA International Concert Artist Competition set piece (6/15, 10/22&24); Monologue performed by Andrew Lowy in LA Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella Concert Series (3/9), mixed quartet Qi by faculty musicians in Vanderbilt University (4/26); Yangko for violin and 2 percussions by faculty musicians in University of Delaware (9/3); string orchestral work Shuo performed by Eugene Symphony (6/3), Houston Symphony (6/12), and Resonance Chamber Orchestra (11/13&14); violin concerto Chinese Folk Dance Suite by Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra on China tour; Dragon Boat Fantasy by Guangzhou Youth Symphony on China tour; Percussion Concerto by Shenyang Symphony (10/16); Duo Ye performed by Chicago Symphony (8/8) and New York Philharmonic (11/24&26&27). Other chamber, orchestral, wind ensemble, and choral works have been performed in the States and in China.
ased in the San Francisco Bay area, Ben Sabey heads the theory, composition and electronic music programs at San Francisco State University. He writes orchestral, chamber and live computer interactive music that has been described by Gramophone as revealing, “a brilliant technique and a keen ear for sound, timbre and arc.”
In 2021 he finished a multi-year project entitled “The Wine Dark Sea” for his piano and electronics duo with composer/pianist Nick Bacchetto. Performances of the Bacchetto/Sabey Duo had to be put on hold for over a year but venues for upcoming performances will include the Center for New Music in San Francisco, UC Davis, CNMAT, Cal Arts and the Conservatory of Utrecht in the Netherlands with many more performances to follow. This year, Ben also received a commission from Seoul National University to write a new solo for haegeum virtuoso Eunah Noh. His piece, “Scattered Wings”, attempts a dialog between traditional Korean and Western classical music within the environment of Sabey’s characteristically nature inspired and contemplative style.
enjamin Dean Taylor is a composer, educator, philanthropist, ultramarathoner, and avid knife thrower who supports his family writing music. His catalog of more than 100 works covers a large range of styles and genres including music written for orchestra, wind band, opera, choir, jazz big band, gamelan, chamber ensembles, and soloists with live electronics. His music has been described as “elegant and energetic” (Kenneth Thompson) and “powerful and direct with delightful surprises in each work.” (Marilyn Shrude) Having grown up as a performer in jazz, rock, ska, country, and concert bands as well as in choirs and orchestras, Taylor is driven to write music that highlights the strengths of each performing ensemble. With the onset of the pandemic, Dr. Taylor founded “Music Creators Academy“, a virtual summer music camp for teenagers. The program has been so well received that he and other MCA faculty have been invited to give workshops and residencies across the USA and Canada where they guide students through creative music making games. Along with his colleague Joseph Sowa, he co-authored his first ebook titled, “Teaching Musical Creativity” which is available through F-flat books. Recent highlights include the premiere of “Party Potatoes” a concerto for tuba and high school band, and “FLOW” for solo euphonium was chosen as a contestant piece for the 2021 Leonard Falcone Competition. Dr. Taylor also serves on the advisory board for the Center for Latter-Day Saint Arts and is a member of the Blue Dot Collective.
n over 130 works that combine drama, driving rhythms and nostalgic nods to his South American roots, three-time Grammy nominated American composer Miguel del Aguila has established himself among the most distinctive and highly regarded composers of his generation. His music, which enjoys over 200 performances annually, has been hailed as “brilliant and witty” (N.Y. Times) and “sonically dazzling” (L.A. Times). He is currently composer-in-residence with the Danish Chamber Players/Ensemble Storstrøm, following a 2020 residency with Orchestra of the Americas. New and upcoming releases of his works include CDs by Norwegian Radio Orchestra; the Louisiana Philharmonic, Augusta Symphony, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, and the Eroica Trio, on Naxos, Albany, Bridge and Centaur. 2020-2021 collaborations include performances by Chicago Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Brazil’s Theatro São Pedro orchestra, São Paulo Dance Company, and Stavanger Symphoniorchestrer, Norway. Besides three Grammy nominations, He has received a Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, Magnum Opus Award, grants from New Music USA/Music Alive, the Copland Foundation and Lancaster Symphony Composer of the Year award. His music, recorded on 52 CDs, has been performed by over 100 orchestras and by thousands of ensembles and soloists worldwide. He graduated from San Francisco Conservatory and Vienna’s Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst.
Barlow Board of Directors
Nancy Barlow Cox