2011 Prize Winner
he Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University takes pleasure in announcing commission winners for 2011. After reviewing 170 composer applications from several countries worldwide, the judging panel awarded Clint Needham of Delaware, Ohio the $12,000 Barlow Prize to compose a major new work for woodwind quintet. The panel also granted Jack Perla of San Francisco the distinction of Honorable Mention in this competition.
Dr. Needham has two graduate composition degrees from Indiana University where he garnered a four-year Jacobs School of Music doctoral fellowship. His composition teachers there included Claude Baker, David Dzubay and Michael Gandolfi. He also studied with Robert Beaser, Christopher Rouse, and George Tsontakis. His extensive list of awards, residencies, commissions, and fellowships includes (among many others) the Charles Ives Scholarship, Missou/Alarm Will Sound New Music Festival, Jacob Druckman Prize, and multiple citations from BMI and ASCAP. He publishes with Theodore Presser Company and records with Summit Records.
General and LDS Commission Recipients
fter considering 106 applications in our General and LDS commissioning programs, the Endowment granted $63,000 to 11 composers who will write works for the following ensembles and musicians:
One of the distinguishing hallmarks of the Barlow Endowment’s annual Barlow Prize is the selection of a performing consortium. Each member of this consortium (usually three different ensembles) gives the winning composer’s work its own premiere. The Barlow Endowment coined the seemingly contradictory but apt term, “multiple premieres,” to describe this combination of “first” performances. The 2012 Barlow Prize features a work for a cappella choir. Although the Endowment has sponsored a choral work for its Prize competition several times in the past, this will be the first year that we have added the unaccompanied a cappella to the description of the choral genre. The Endowment has selected three choirs, each renowned for its passion for premiering new music. Each choir hails from a different country—a first for a Barlow Endowment consortium. This will truly be an international performing consortium, and a unique opportunity for interested composers. The three choirs are Volti (San Francisco), the BBC Singers (London), and the Latvian Radio Choir (Riga). Representatives from each choir will meet with the Barlow Endowment’s judging panel in the Summer of 2012 to select the winning composer from among hundreds of applicants. The Endowment will then commission the winner to write a new a cappella work. We look forward to our summer meetings, rolling up our sleeves, and getting to work on this exciting project.
Two-thousand and eleven marked the establishment of the Milton A. Barlow Scholarship and the Barlow Student Composition Award—two important, ongoing scholarships/awards presented to the most outstanding composition student(s) in our program at Brigham Young University. The Milton A. Barlow Scholarship is a one-year full-tuition scholarship, and the Barlow Student Composition Award is a $500 commission to write a new work for one of BYU’s premiere large ensembles.
While these awards may go to separate individuals, in 2011 they both went to masters composition student Curtis Smith. Curtis’s Symphony No. 1: The Six String was premiered by the BYU Chamber Orchestra on March 27, 2012. In April 2012, Curtis graduated with his MM in Music Composition. This scholarship and award provided significant support, which will undoubtedly help him in his attempts to enter a competitive doctoral program.
This was the seventh year BYU student interns have assisted with the annual Barlow Prize and Commissions judging. Four of our students — Esther Megargel, Michael Wahlquist, Igor Marques, and Kyle Shaw — helped prepare the applicants’ files and attended the summer meetings.
A large share of the Education Grant goes toward student scholarships, assistantships, internships, travel awards, festivals and performances fees, and support for guest composers and performers that work directly with students. Students receiving scholarships included Zach Van Houten, Esther Megargel, Michael Wahlquist, and Joseph Sowa.
Barlow funds also supported performances of student compositions at national and international festivals like the premiere of Joseph Sowa’s piece A Field Guide to Natural History, commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, at the 2011 International Society of Bassists Convention at San Francisco State University in June. Composition students Sarah Porter and Todd Kitchen attended performances of their electronic compositions at the 2011 Conference of SEAMUS (Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the US) at the University of Miami.
In January, composer Mark Applebaum of Stanford University visited campus to perform on the Utah Crosstalk Concert of electronic music, to present his music to our composition seminar, and teach composition lessons to our students.
Barlow funds supported a residency by the New York Piano Trio who workshopped music written by composition students during their February visit. Curtis Macomber, the group’s violinist, presented an informative discussion to our composition seminar on Augusta Read Thomas’ work, Dream Catcher, for solo violin, and the trio presented a superb evening concert.
Performers Kenneth Long (clarinet) and Matthew Coley (percussion/dulcimer) held workshops with composition students, read through student composed pieces, and recorded works written by faculty members while on campus. Matthew Coley presented the exciting Micro Concerto for percussion and chamber ensemble accompanied by an ensemble of advanced BYU student performers in the BYU Group for New Music.
Composers John Butcher from the United Kingdom and Chaya Czernowin of Harvard University presented Barlow Lectures to the School of Music and worked closely with composition students in lessons and master classes. Also, the 2011 budget provided support for a Winter 2012 guest composer/performer, William O. Smith.
Faculty support has also been generous. Dr. Neil Thornock recorded projects of new works for solo clarinet and solo hammered dulcimer. Dr. Christian Asplund received support to release two CD’s: Org and Lalage, which features solo organ works and improvised works for sampler and vocalist, respectively. And lastly, Dr. Asplund and Dr. Steven Ricks performed new works for trombone and piano at the sixth festival/conference presented by the International Society of Improvised Music (ISIM) at William Paterson University.
T his experience encapsulates three of the best days I’ve ever lived. The altitude filled my lungs with a thin air, which was hard to catch given the surrounding breath-taking mountains. I can’t forget to mention my fellow interns: we supported each other and were amazed at how impressive everything was.
“Impressive” seems to me the word to describe it best. Every chat, every joke or witty comment, and every debate left a strong impression in my mind. I heard music more clearly with these people. I wasn’t always able to follow their line of thought, but I learned a great deal about listening to music. It sharpened my composition skills because I became more aware of what experts notice and value in a piece. I couldn’t wait to start applying everything to my own compositions. I took every available break in our schedule to translate what I learned into notes and musical concepts. It’s been a week now since the judging began. My desire to produce good music was boosted. To be more worthy of the privilege of being a Barlow intern, I sat down many times at the piano with paper and pencil in hand. Sometimes I sat at a computer, and other times I would go outside and ponder. It’s been much harder than I thought. I’d been exposed to so much good music and such brilliant musicians, I thought it would translate easily into my own work. It’s just a slow process. Being a Barlow intern imbued my soul with this: the notion that making excellent music is worth it; there are people that appreciate and reward it; and I can be a part of it all. Thank you, Barlow Endowment, for this life-changing experience.
B eing an intern during the three days of deliberations for the Barlow Prize and Commissions was a very rewarding experience for me. I had the opportunity to listen to excerpts from new works submitted by composers from all over the world in a variety of genres. I was impressed by the skill and dedication of the judges who brought their unique perspectives to the table yet came to a consensus upon the most important criteria for a winner. I listened carefully to each of their comments. They showed an excellent grasp of the totality of a piece (pacing, climactic moments, emotional content), and attention to smaller details (instrumental possibilities, articulations, layering of sounds, etc.).
I learned that I need to increase my critical listening skills in exploring the works of other composers and in evaluating my own compositions. I have also gained a good idea of what judges are looking for in a composition contest. There needs to be a golden balance between repetition and contrast. There needs to be something that grabs the listener, such as an unexpected turn of musical events, or an unusual combination of instruments. The physical score needs to be of the highest graphic and notational quality. The recording, especially, needs to be a stunning rendition by well qualified performers.
I felt that the selection of judges was excellent. The inclusion of several performers in the discussions helped the group to focus on the realities of actual presentation and to emphasize the importance of a good working relationship between composer and performer. My experience as an intern will surely affect my future composing. I cannot help but benefit from an atmosphere in which imagination and creativity were considered the highest priorities for determining a winner. It was a privilege to be selected as an intern and to work in the beautiful setting of Snowbird. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve in this capacity.
T he experience of working as an intern for the Barlow Endowment this past summer will undoubtedly continue to be invaluable, as it has already been in my life as a composer. In preparation for the upcoming meetings, I spent time early this summer with the other interns sorting, organizing, and processing all of the applications mailed in to the Barlow Endowment from all over the world. During the first week of August, I was privileged to attend the retreat at a beautiful resort with the Barlow’s distinguished board of advisers and other highly estimable guest judges. As interns, we had the privilege of observing the judging process and the comments made by reputable composers and performers as they critiqued the music and portfolios of the Barlow’s many applicants. In an effort to increase the efficiency of the process, we handed the judges each application and operated the audio system while they listened to excerpts of each submitted work.
While I am sure that my experience as an intern with the Barlow Endowment influenced me in more ways than I am able to acknowledge, I can organize the things I learned into two general categories: I gained a firmer understanding of current merit-worthy characteristics, and I learned the faux pas of how composers write music and how they present themselves via portfolio in the modern classical music world.
The pieces that most impressed the judges avoided traditional rhythmic structures, and yet each of these pieces had a very clear sense of arch, shape, and form. The strongest musical ideas were focused and did not wander, and the ablest composers knew how to properly pace their presentation of these ideas. On more than one occasion, the judges commented on how the weaker compositions, when played correctly, made the performers look and sound like they were messing up—certainly an aspect of writing music of which composers should be cognizant.
Some composers “shot themselves in the foot” when they compiled their application portfolio by sending in an unlabeled CD without multiple tracks, failing to demonstrate that they can competently write for the proposed medium, or being excessive and verbose in Bios/CVs. We encountered all of these features more than once in reviewing the applications. While they did not decide the commission recipients, these problems certainly worked against some applicants. Conversely, some of the most beautifully published, manicured portfolios contained some of the most mediocre music that the judges encountered all week. Good presentation cannot make up for lack of musical and compositional strength.
I am honored beyond measure to have participated in the wonderful work of the Barlow Endowment. It has truly been a privilege to have interacted with top-notch composers and performers who are also top-quality people.
M y experience this summer as an intern for the Barlow Endowment was magnificent and eye-opening in every way. It was a beautiful thing to see an organization provide such real support for new music. All of the judges are top-notch composers and performers. It was a privilege working and interacting with them. Watching the judges carefully select the best entries to the competition was very revealing for me as a young composer. Hearing their comments and critiques of the submitted works was one of the most valuable “master-class” experiences I’ve had.
Seeing so many pieces of new music back to back made it very clear what some of the current major trends in music are. It was also clear which pieces rose to the top in terms of craftsmanship and creativity. There were many very good works submitted, but just a few really broke free from the crowd to be truly outstanding. This gave me some wonderful insights into what it takes to make really good music. I was delighted to discover some wonderful new composers and their works. Now, more than ever, I feel confident in my future as a composer.
I’m aware that there is a large network of composers, musicians, and many other supporters of new music. Perhaps the best thing is that I feel inspired that I too could be a serious contender in such contests, if I apply what I’ve learned.
Another valuable part of working with the Barlow Endowment has to do with the practical side of applying for a composition contest. It was invaluable for me to have a glimpse at the inside processes of such a competition. As we processed the various applications early this summer, and later facilitated their judging at the resort, it was evident that some applications were well presented while others were very sloppy. Presentation matters, and composers should include: a neatly notated and bound score, a working recording with clearly marked tracks on both the disk and the CD case, and important excerpts from the piece clearly marked on the scores and recordings.
This experience has helped me to be a better composer and prepare for my planned career as a composer and educator.
Barlow Board of Advisors
T odd Coleman’s recent compositions span a variety of genres and media. His flute concerto, written for April Clayton in 2007 and commissioned by the Barlow Endowment, is due to be released on the Tantara record label in 2012. He is currently working on a project with colleagues at Elon University which brings together popular, classical, acoustic, electronic, aural, and visual elements unified with references to visual arts works. He is also working on another interdisciplinary/transmedia art work for chorus, amplified cello, three-screen video projection, and surround sound, entitled Three Scenes in Jerusalem, which deals with glimpses into the final dramatic moments of the mortal life of Christ in Gethsemane, Golgotha, and the Garden Tomb.
Coleman is the academic coordinator of the music technology program and associate professor at Elon University in North Carolina. Elon recently adopted a substantial revision to the music technology curriculum, which Coleman crafted and proposed this spring. This revision puts a greater emphasis on collaboration, innovation, creativity, and interdisciplinary projects. In his first five years as coordinator, the music technology program has grown from 2 students to 36 students, making it the largest major in Elon’s Music Department of four major degree programs and 85 students.
S tacy Garrop’s recent compositions include String Quartet No. 4: Illuminations, commissioned by Nicholas Yasillo of the Norton Building Concert Series and premiered by the Cecilia Quartet; Stubborn as Hell, commissioned by clarinetist Robert Spring and premiered by Spring and clarinetist Joshua Gardner; Songs of Lowly Life, commissioned and premiered by Volti; Jubilation, commissioned by 98.7 FM WFMT and premiered by the Lincoln Trio; Helios, commissioned and premiered by the Gaudete Brass Quintet; and The Book of American Poetry, Volumes III and IV, premiered by the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players. Other recent performances of her work have been given by the Grant Park Music Festival Chorus, Chicago a cappella, Voices of Change, and the Chiara Quartet.
SEVEN, another composition of Garrop’s, was recorded by the Lincoln Trio and released by Cedille Records in August 2011 on their “Notable Women” CD. Her Hava Nagila was recorded and released by the group Chicago a capella in September 2011 on their self-produced “Days of Awe and Rejoicing” CD. in the past year, she was in residence with Skaneateles Festival and the Volti Choral Institute for High School Singers. She will be serving on the composition faculty with the ensemble Fifth House in their inaugural 2012 fresh inc Festival in June.
D avid Rakowski spent the spring 2011 semester in residence at the Camargo Foundation in Southern France. There he wrote his second piano concerto, commissioned by Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) and the Jebediah Foundation. The concerto will be premiered by pianist Amy Briggs and BMOP in the 2013-2014 season. Rakowski’s first book of ten piano preludes was published by Peters and premiered by Karl Larson at Bowling Green State University in April 2011. In May, the U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra premiered the new version of his piece, Stolen Moments.
Another work entitled Compass, commissioned by a consortium of ten saxophone quartets, was premiered in New York and Philadelphia by the PRISM Quartet in June 2011. Talking Points (Right Wing Echo Chamber), a cello concerto, was also premiered in June by Fred Sherry and the Orchestra of the League of Composers in New York City. Commissioned by Boston Musica Viva, Thickly Settled was premiered by them in September 2011 in Boston. Additionally, Rakowski’s solo piano paraphrase of Sondheim’s The Ladies Who Lunch, commissioned for the Liaisons Project, will be performed by pianist Anthony de Mare in several venues as warm-ups to the gala premiere of the project in New York City in April 2012.
D uring 2011, Steven Ricks had two international world premieres of multimedia works and the premiere of a new work commissioned by the NOVA Chamber Music Series in Salt Lake City. In May, the Dutch quintet Hexnut premiered Ricks’ piece Geometria Situs at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam. The work was part of the WRENCH Project, a multimedia concert produced by Hexnut which incorporates the images of Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. WRENCH has toured extensively in the Netherlands and will be heading to the U.S. and other locales in 2013.
Ricks’ piece Medusa in Fragments, scored for amplified piano, video projection, soprano, and surround-sound electronics, was premiered by pianist Keith Kirchoff at the University of Toronto New Music Festival in January 2011, and then toured throughout the US and Europe. Kirchoff recorded the piece in July for forthcoming audio and video releases. Ricks’ Piece for Mixed Quartet was composed for Baroque “trio sonata” instruments (two violins, cello, and harpsichord), and was premiered by keyboardist Jason Hardink and players of the NOVA Chamber Music Series in March 2011.
E than Wickman was commissioned by Music Celebrations International to write a work for chorus and orchestra commemorating the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The premiere will take place at the Kennedy Center in February 2013. Wickman’s Winter’s Burst, commissioned by the Utah Arts Festival as part of its annual chamber music commissioning competition, was premiered at the Utah Arts Festival in June 2011 and will be performed again February 2012 by Ensemble 61 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Three Expeditions, a work for euphonium and piano has been selected by the International Tuba Euphonium Association (ITEA) as a required competition piece for the ITEA Conference in Linz, Austria June 2012. The same work has been nominated for a Harvey Phillips award by ITEA for excellence in composition and was recorded and released by euphoniumist Steven Mead in June 2011. His work for violin and piano, Passages, will be recorded May 2012 by violinist Scott Conklin and pianist Alan Huckleberry for a forthcoming CD release on Albany Records.
Barlow Board of Directors
Stephen M. Jones
Alice Barlow Jones
Scott M. Boyter