2007 Prize Winner
he Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University is pleased to announce the commission winners for 2007. After reviewing 327 composer applications from nearly two dozen countries worldwide, the judging panel awarded Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez the $10,000 Barlow Prize to compose a new work for percussion ensemble.
Born in Mexico City in 1964, Professor Sanchez-Gutierrez studied composition with Henri Dutilleux, Jacob Druckman and Martin Bresnick. He serves as Composer-in-Residence at the Morelia International New Music Festival, in addition to similar duties with the Binghamton Philharmonic. Past awards include prizes from the Koussevitzky, Guggenheim, Fromm and Rockefeller Foundations. In 2000, Publico, a Mexican daily newspaper, named Sanchez-Gutierrez “Person of the Year.”
Sanchez-Gutierrez’s compositions receive frequent performances in the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia. He holds an Associate Professorship in Composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.
General and LDS Commission Recipients
fter considering 135 applications in the General and LDS Commission programs, the judges awarded $76,000 to the following composers who will write new works for the respective ensembles or musicians.
Stephen Hartke’s work, Meanwhile, premiered on November 7, 2007 at the University of Richmond School of Music. The piece was written for, and performed by, Eighth Blackbird. The piece was presented as part of an entire evening of Hartke’s compositions.
David Vayo’s 1997 Barlow Commission was again performed in 2007. The piece, Awakening of the Heart, was performed on November 30, 2007 in Hong Kong during the International Society for Contemporary Music’s World Music Days festival. It was performed by the Sher Jie Ensemble of the Sichuan Conservatory of Music.
JOLT/A Still, Small Voice was commissioned in 2005 and performed multiple times in 2007. It was staged by the University of Iowa Dance Department on May 31 through June 2, and featured a live performance by cellist Amy Phelps. The piece was also taken on tour throughout Finland and Russia during the summer of 2007, and New York City during the fall.
Luca Antignani’s commissioned work, Il viaggio di Humbert, premiered in October 2007. It was performed on October 12 and 14 by the Network for New Music in Haverford, Pennsylvania; October 18 by the Indiana University New Music Ensemble in Bloomington, Indiana; October 25 and 29 by the Left Coast Music Ensemble in San Francisco, California; and October 28 by the Ensemble Formerly Known as X in Ithaca, New York.
Dan Visconti’s work, Trying Conclusions, premiered on October 7, 2007, by the Moore-Better Duo at Kulas Hall on the Cleveland Institute of Music campus in Cleveland, Ohio.
Daniel Kellogg’s new work for bassoon and string quartet premiered December 4, 2007 at the University of Colorado. The piece was performed by University of Colorado faculty member Yoshiyuki Ishikawa as well as the University of Colorado Faculty Quartet.
Jim Hiscott’s commissioned work, River of Light premiered on Saturday, May 12, 2007 in the Madsen Recital Hall at Brigham Young University during the University’s Deseret Chamber Music Festival. The piece was performed by the ensemble Orpheus Winds.
Aleksandra Vrebalov premiered her work Stations with the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra on March 31, 2007 at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Providence, Rhode Island. The soloists for the premiere were Jean Danton and Rene de la Garza.
Dan Bradshaw’s piece, Delights and Shadows, premiered on March 24, 2007 at Brigham Young University Hawaii. It was performed by Metropolitan Opera star, Ariel Bybee; Chicago Symphony violinist, Alison Dalton; and BYU-Hawaii faculty member, Stacy McCarrey on the piano. An additional performance was held March 27, 2007 at University of Hawaii as well as during fall 2007 at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the Chicago Cultural Center.
Todd Coleman’s Flute Concerto premiered at Coleman’s alma mater, Brigham Young University, on March 23, 2007. It was performed by April Clayton in the de Jong Concert Hall in conjunction with the BYU Chamber Orchestra.
Kurt Rohde’s work, Seeing Things, written for violinist Axel Strauss, premiered on March 9 and 10, 2007. The premiere was with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, featuring Axel Strauss and Madeline Prager.
Stacey Garrop’s commissioned piece, Torque, premiered on March 5, 2007 in Chicago, Illinois by Viacheslav Dinerchtein and Mauricio Nadoer, with noted pianist Kuang Hao Huang.
Harold Meltzer’s Brion premiered January 29, 2007 at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. The piece was performed by the Cygnus Ensemble.
Ethan Wickman’s newest work, Atomic Variations, premiered on February 10, 2007 by Flexible Music at the Construction Company Gallery in New York City. The piece was also performed in Utah during fall 2007.
Chen Yi’s Tibetan Tunes premiered on January 27, 2007 by the New Pacific Trio at Faye Spanos Concert Hall at the University of Pacific in Stockton, California.
Judith Bingham’s Ghost Towns of the American West debuted on January 1, 2007. Its first performance was by the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers in Minneapolis. The University of Utah Singers performed the piece on April 22, 2007 at Libby Gardner Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah. An additional performance was done on September 1, 2007 by the BBC Singers in London
George Tsontakis’ Clair de Lune premiered on March 2 and 3, 2007 by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra at the Ordway Theater in St. Paul Minnesota. The performance was re-broadcasted via Minnesota Public Radio on April 16, 2007.
On October 23, 2007 Tsontakis released his latest CD, Tsontakis: Violin Concerto No. 2; Clair de Lune; The Past, The Passion, which included his recently commissioned piece. The album received a positive review from Gramophone, describing Tsontakis as “Unafraid to go the expressive distance, from romantic to spiky.”
M ore than a decade ago, the Barlow Prize (then known as the Barlow International Composers Competition) featured a string quartet. The year was 1996 and a consortium of three ensembles including the Cassatt, Cuarteto Latino Americano and the Muir string quartets agreed to premiere a composition that had yet to be written by that year’s winner, Chris Theophanidis.
This arrangement between ascendant world class composers and prestigious ensembles continues to distinguish the Barlow Endowment from other commissioning agencies. As a result, the Endowment has produced much over the past quarter century. Dozens and dozens of new works written by emerging and established composers have been premiered by esteemed ensembles on all continents.
Over the years, new compositions for string quartets have flourished with the help of the Barlow Endowment. Commissions in 1989, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007 have included works written for, among others, the Cassatt, Muir, Vermeer and Colorado Faculty quartets.
For 2008, the Barlow Prize returns to the venerable idea of a string quartet. Again, we have three tremendous ensembles joining our consortium: the Avalon, Lydian and Pacifica quartets. In August 2008, each ensemble will send a representative to the Snowbird Resort in the Wasatch Mountains high above Salt Lake City. There, along with members of the Barlow Endowment’s Board of Advisors, they will help judge the competition at our annual summer meetings.
We expect 300-400 composers from around the world to submit applications. Our poster containing details of this competition and all other commissioning programs was mailed out to all our friends and associates in January 2008.
I t seems that we have found our “groove”—at least for now. We tend to spend in three categories (which you may find used as rubrics in future reports). Let me summarize them.
The first is student support. This includes (1) scholarships, (2) internships, and (3) performance fees. We contributed this year, as usual, a fixed amount to the general graduate scholarship fund of the School of Music (from which we then paid out much more to composition students). We also paid some supplementary scholarship money for students needing just a little extra to finish their graduate degrees during spring or summer (for which we do not normally award scholarships). The internship funds are money paid to students who serve at the annual Barlow meetings. These, I should note, have been some of the most valuable educational experiences our composition students get each year. Finally, performance fees are the small amounts paid to student performers in composition classes. We have an advantage over many schools: we create standing ensembles in composition classes, groups of players who read our young composers’ work. Invaluable.
The second is faculty support. This includes money given to BYU composition faculty for manuscript copying or engraving, recording projects, and travel to premieres or important performances. This year over one fourth of our total Education Grant expenditures went to two recording projects. The first of these was subventing the Bridge label recording called Mild Violence by Steven Ricks (http://www.bridgerecords.com/pages/catalog/9256.htm ). This is a first—rate collection, beautifully representing the work of this composer on our faculty. Each of the board members will receive a complimentary copy, which will, in effect, speak for itself. The other recording project takes a slightly different turn for us. Steve Lindeman, while a practicing theorist and jazz pianist, also composes creatively and thoughtfully in jazz idioms. This year we allocated to him a good sum of money to realize new compositions with professional players in the studio. A seed sown–we’ll see how the fruits develop in due course.
The third is guests and residencies. As in previous years, this category constitutes our largest expense—about half of what we spent this year. Many guests made brief visits: Judith Bingham and Luca Antignani—both excellent, informative guests, both Barlow Prize winners; Carolyn Bremer, who gave students very practical (and humorous) advice on getting one’s work out to players and audiences; Augusta Read Thomas, a perennial favorite, with her always imaginative music and inspiring thoughts; and two LDS composers well known to the endowment, Lansing McLoskey and Ethan Wickman, who presented very impressive recent music to our seminar. The largest expense in this category was for the fall 2007 residency of Flexible Music, an expert chamber ensemble that rehearsed and recorded student works, spoke in composition seminars and master classes, and performed a nighttime concert that included works by Ricks and Wickman.
As the Barlow Endowment at large flourishes in its achievements and prestige, so its “auxiliary,” the Barlow Education Grant, has lifted—set on a hill, as it were—the aesthetic presence and compositional legacy of BYU’s composers.
BM Music Composition 2002
MM Music Composition 2007
W orking as an intern for the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition was an incredible and valuable experience for a student of composition. Not only was it an opportunity to work with world-renowned composers of today, but world-renowned performing groups as well. As composition students, we initially concern ourselves with the techniques and craftsmanship of writing, but don’t often address the specifics, how-to’s and processes for getting our works known and marketed. Working with, and behind the scenes of, this event brought these important factors to light.
First, it is imperative that as composers we are aware of and enter various composition contests. These are necessary for one’s continuing individual portfolio, and are often asked for on contest applications.
Second, when writing for a specific contest, submit what represents your best writing in the genre asked for. This is what the judges looked for first in evaluating a score. During the Barlow adjudication, I saw many wonderful compositions and composers that didn’t get chosen simply because they didn’t submit works that exhibited enough use of percussion to warrant them as a candidate for the commissioned work, which was to be for a percussion ensemble.
Third, knowing which well-known performing groups are to debut the awarded commissioned work is imperative. This influences the style and techniques the composer may need to incorporate in their composition in order to excite and invite the performing groups to want to debut the commissioned work. We repeatedly asked the questions:
- Do you think this composer could write well enough for this particular performing group?
- Would it be exciting enough to receive multiple performances?
- Is the score clean and professionally notated?
- Did they submit a CD with a good recording?
- Is it good writing?
When there are hundreds of applicants and scores to evaluate, there must be something tremendously exciting about a work that makes it stand out. “Is it captivating from the very beginning?” Never underestimate the power of a great and memorable opening idea.
It was interesting to note that each application submitted a bid on what they felt was the monetary compensation needed in order to write the commissioned work, should they be awarded. Each applicant was to also include a proposal of the length of their intended work and a commitment of performance for it from some other ensemble group.
These factors helped determine whether or not a composer received a commission.
After many long hours of deliberation between the panel of judges and artists from the selected performing groups, compositions were weeded out, and finalists were chosen. Dialogue and input from each judge was respectfully noted and the scoring system began. Final decisions and awards were voted on diplomatically and reached by an undeniable majority. The process was truly its own work of art. The knowledge gained from this hands-on experience was not only indispensable, but truly educational and insightful.
I was the only returning intern to the Barlow judging session this year, and I have to say my experience this year was even more poignant than last year.
I had the opportunity to help Ray Dillard and Claude Baker as they made their way through submissions for the Barlow Prize. It was incredible to me that these men were able to decide on most submissions without having to hear the CD. I also remember they paid no particular deference to any one submission solely because of the composer’s name, and remember watching in amazement as submissions from the likes of Ligeti, and Wolff were passed up in favor of other, perhaps lesser-known composers. The same could be said about later when I had the opportunity to work with Melinda Wagner and Lansing McLoskey during the General and LDS commissions.
The thing I remember most about the group judging sessions was the dynamic between the composers and the performers, as their sometimes competing interests clashed over who should win the Prize. While watching and listening to the group hammer out decisions, I realized composer/performer relationships are so important. I quickly understood that without the performing ensemble’s input, the composers could very likely award a commission that would never be performed; and music, without willing performers, is just ink on paper.
One thing I remember happening this year that I don’t recall from the previous year was the sum-up session the interns had with Dr. Johnson at the end. It was a wonderful way to share with each other all the collected nuggets of wisdom we had individually collected during the process. I left the Barlow judging with a renewed desire to write, courage to seek more commissions of my own and above all, a deep feeling of gratitude for the enormous opportunity to witness and learn from this process. My thanks goes to the Barlow family and the Endowment Directors for making this possible. I hope the intern program continues to be useful to the Endowment in the future, because the little work we do is nothing compared to the lessons we take home with us.
I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to be an intern for the Barlow Endowment. It was an honor and privilege to associate with all of the wonderful composers and performers. For me, it was a week of intense learning and surprising enlightenments.
I spent the first day working with Anders Loguin and Lansing McLoskey. My initial observation was that it is vastly easier to judge a piece to be uncompetitive than to select a finalist. The former task was quickly accomplished without listening to a recording. Among the more than one hundred applications that were covered that first day, musically speaking, several gestural clichés rose to the surface again and again, mediocrity blended together and I began to see just what it meant for a piece to stand out.
The second day, the Board of Advisors and Guest Judges considered the finalists for the prize. It was fascinating to watch the judges explain their various criteria and to see the consensus gradually form, defining and refining the group. I recall a couple of themes from those meetings. First, when commissioning a piece of music, the performers’ aesthetic is important. The composers on the Board and the performer Guest Judges brought different, but equally valid, ideas about new music. Second, pacing is crucial to a piece of music to make it stand out as a clear winner. The final four or five pieces were perfect in this regard. They all had something to say and said it effectively.
The final day of judging was for the LDS and General Commissions. I worked with Daniel Gawthrop and John Costa that day, and again saw the same recurring themes in what the judges were looking for: pacing, freshness and individual voice.
The entire process from beginning to end was efficient. Credit should go to the Board of Directors for their organization and thoughtfulness. The applicants were regarded with respect, even the applicants who had not followed the guidelines. Every effort was made to ensure fairness and professionalism.
I hope that interns can continue to be utilized by the Barlow Endowment. Though the interns are ostensibly used to help make the process run more smoothly, the true benefit is to the interns themselves as they observe the judging and meet great musicians. I enjoyed chatting with the judges and learning about career options and how to be more successful. My notes from the experience will be of great value to me for some times to come.
A s a music composition student, I have had many lessons, seminars, papers and projects. I have attended concerts and I have participated in many performances. I have learned much about music and, in particular, what things are needed to make a good piece of music. Through all my experiences and studies, there have been key moments where an event had a substantial effect upon my compositional practices. My time as an intern for the Barlow Endowment was such an event.
First, it was a great privilege to dine and rub shoulders with such experienced and proficient composers and performers. I learned much, and each had different perspectives and tastes in music, but all seemed to give the same advice to the young rising composer: get your music performed. And how do I get my music performed? Networking.
Watching the judging process was one of the greater learning experiences. To see them analyze the scores and listen to the music and hear their comments about each piece was priceless education.
There were so many times I wanted to ask questions about some of the music they were looking over and it was all I could do to sit and work quietly in the corner, getting the scores ready and putting in the CDs. I was also making personal, silent judgments about each piece of music and I was very happy that I was coming to the same conclusions that they were.
While observing the judging process, I also had a somewhat disheartening realization. I asked myself how my own musical works would stand up with the competition, and I came to the conclusion that many of my pieces would not make it very far, which had an immediate effect on the pieces I was currently writing. I now picture each of my pieces going through the same rigorous judging process, and this is helping my music (at least in my mind) rise above mediocrity.
I also learned what to and what not to send to such competitions. Some applications where discarded even though they were well written because they did not relate to the work that was to be commissioned. The judges where pleased when an applicant had taken the time to mark in the score and make extra tracks of the music that the applicant wanted the judges to hear. Seeing the inside of such a contest will give me an advantage when submitting work to various competitions.
There was a lot of work in the filing process and getting everything ready for judging, but it was well worth it. I feel I gained much more than I contributed. It was a pleasure to be a part of the wonderful Barlow Endowment for Music Composition. I can see it is a truly great gift for composers.
Barlow Board of Advisors
[mk_dropcaps style=”fancy-style”]D[/mk_dropcaps]uring 2007 Claude Baker was awarded the rank of Chancellor’s Professor and was presented with the Tracy M. Sonneborn Award by Indiana University.
According to Indiana University, “These professorships and the Sonneborn Award are meant to bring significant recognition to those members of the Indiana University faculty who have achieved local, national and international distinction in both teaching and research/creative activity.”
Baker was also recently been selected as a Composer-in-Residence for the 2008 Bowdoin International Summer Music Festival in Maine and as the 2008-09 Paul Fromm Composer-in-Residence at the American Academy in Rome. During 2007, notable performances of his music were presented at the Trigonale Festival in Klagenfurt, Austria, the Ruhr Festival in Essen, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, the Rheingau Music Festival and at the Brahms-Saal of the Stadthalle in Karlsruhe, Germany.
I n 2007 Daniel E. Gawthrop received a commission from the American Guild of Organists, among others. The resulting work, a four-movement suite for solo organ called Four Noble Gases, premiered in Baltimore in July by concert organist Eric Plutz.
Also in July, a new CD devoted to Gawthrop’s published organ music was released on the Grace Notes Media label by performer Dr. David Pickering. Additionally, a new choral work commissioned by Furman University premiered during the Piccolo Spoleto festival. Dr. Bingham Vick conducted the Furman Singers for the premiere of that piece, Stand Ye on the Mountain. Commissions now in progress include works for ensembles in St. Louis, Missiouri; Atlanta, Georgia; Syracuse, New York and Durham, North Carolina.
D escribed as “a major talent and a deep thinker with a great ear” by the American Composers Orchestra, Lansing McLoskey’s compositions have been performed across the U.S. and in eleven other countries. He has received commissions and grants from the NEA, Meet the Composer, Fromm Foundation, ASCAP, the Barlow Endowment, Music at the Anthology, King’s Chapel, Mormon Artists Group, Harvard University and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. McLoskey has written for such renowned ensembles as The Hilliard Ensemble, Speculum Musicae and the New Millennium Ensemble.
Recent premieres include The Madding Crowd at the 2007 Tanglewood Music Festival by Triton Brass, and two orchestral works – SLAM! and Chanson Pour Cordes – by the Frost Symphony Orchestra at Festival Miami 2007. McLoskey also received the Orovitz Award from the University of Miami, where he is an Assistant Professor. Current projects include new works for The Ibis Camerata and Dinosaur Annex Ensemble in Boston. Recordings of his music are released on Albany, Wergo Schallplatten, Capstone, and Tantara Records.
S teven L. Ricks received his early musical training as a trombonist in Mesa, Arizona. He holds degrees in composition from Brigham Young University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Utah. Ricks received a Certificate of Advanced Musical Studies from King’s College London in 2000, supported by a Graduate Research Fellowship from the University of Utah. His teachers and musical mentors have included Morris Rosenzweig, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Bill Brooks, and Michael Hicks.
Ricks’ prizes and honors include First Prize in the 1999 SCI/ASCAP Student Composition Competition, and four Barlow Endowment Commissions. He has been a fellow at June in Buffalo and the Composers Conference at Wellesley College, and his works have been performed by many leading contemporary music ensembles and performers including the New York New Music Ensemble, Earplay, the California EAR Unit, the Talujon Percussion Quartet, flutist Rachel Rudich, pianist Ian Pace and violinist Curtis Macomber. Ricks is currently an Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Brigham Young University where he directs the Electronic Music Studio.
M elinda Wagner, a Pulitzer Prize winning composer, recently completed a piece for the US Marine Band, which premiered in April 2008. Wagner is currently working on several new projects, including a work for the Juilliard String Quartet and harp, a piano quintet for the Left Coast Ensemble, and a new work for Orpheus. All of these projects are set to premiere in 2009. Wagner recently heard the premiere performance of her Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra, composed for Joseph Alessi and the New York Philharmonic.
Barlow Board of Directors
Stephen M. Jones
Alice Barlow Jones
Scott M. Boyter