he Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University proudly announces the 2019 Commission winners. After reviewing 356 submissions from 36 countries, the judging panel awarded Tawnie Olson of New Haven, Connecticut, the $12,000 Barlow Prize to compose a major new work for SATB Choir. The panel also granted Shih-Wei Lo of New York City, New York, the distinction of Honorable Mention.
Canadian citizen Tawnie Olson is a graduate of the University of Toronto, Yale University, and the University of Calgary. Dr. Olson has received commissions from the Canadian Art Song Project, Third Practice/New Music USA, the Canada Council for the Arts, Mount Holyoke College/The Women’s Philharmonic, the Blue Water Chamber Orchestra, Ithaca College, the American Composers Forum, and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music’s Robert Baker Commissioning Fund, among others. In 2017, she received an OPERA America Discovery Grant to develop a new work about Hildegard of Bingen and Eleanor of Aquitaine with re:Naissance Opera (libretto by Roberta Barker), and a Canada Council for the Arts Professional Development Grant to study field recording at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. She is the Composer-in-Residence of the Women Composers Festival of Hartford and an American Composers Forum BandQuest Composer-in-Residence at E.C. Adams School in Guilford, CT. She is the winner of the 2015 Iron Composer Competition, and her Three Songs on Poems by Lorri Neilsen Glenn took second prize in the 2018 NATS Art Song Competition.
Taiwanese composer Shih-Wei Lo is a Dean’s Fellow in GSAS as well as Kathryn and Shelby Davis International Fellow at Columbia University. Shih-Wei Lo is pursuing a DMA in Composition under the tutelage of Georg Friedrich Haas and George Lewis. He earned his MM in Composition from the University of Washington, where he worked with Huck Hodge and Juan Pampin, and also taught at the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS). Prior to the graduate studies in the United States, he studied with Ching-Wen Chao and Kris Falk at National Taiwan Normal University, receiving his BFA in Music Theory and Composition. He has received awards from ASCAP/SEAMUS, the Dutch Harp Festival and Composition Contest, and by the Taiwan Ministry of Education.
General and LDS Commission RecipientsA
fter considering 201 applications in our General and LDS commissioning programs, the Endowment granted $80,000 to thirteen composers who will write works for the following ensembles and musicians:
|General Commission Recipients||Ensemble(s)|
|Andy Akiho||Sandbox Percussion|
|Viet Cuong||Poulenc Trio|
|Brian Current||Tapestry New Opera|
|Charles Halka||Onix Ensamble|
|Chihchun Chi-sun Lee||Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra and NeoQuartet|
|Charles Peck||Hajnal Pivnick|
|Christopher Stark||Shawn Weil|
A s a composer, there is something effervescently rejuvenating about spending hours each summer with fabulous new music in the company of some of the best composers and performers working today. At the same time, I can’t deny the holistically nourishing aspect of doing this work in such a magnificently beautiful setting. The work we undertake during our Barlow meeting—and the mission of Barlow in particular—harmonizes effortlessly as the aesthetics of nature and art seem to embellish and empower one another. There is something undeniably divine in our labor of helping give life to works by the most talented voices of our time. Though no work of music will likely endure as the mountains that surround us, their very presence gives us—and the Endowment—something irrepressibly aspirational.
The 2018 meeting ran smoothly and effectively. We were grateful for the contributions of our ensemble guest judges: Andrew Crane (BYU Singers), Donald Nally (The Crossing), and Patrick Dupre Quigley (Seraphic Fire). We also note with gratitude the contributions of our other guest judges: Ben Taylor (filling in for Chen Yi who was unable to attend this summer’s meeting), Newell Dayley, Margot Murdoch, Hilary Demske, and John Costa. Conversations and deliberations were honest and forthright, and yet the rapport between judges was undeniable. I am honored to witness such great souls coming together in common cause.
The Board of Directors continues to look for ways to improve the judging process and even extend the reach of the Endowment to new communities. For example, adding an additional morning to adjudicate the LDS commission entries enabled a more careful, thoughtful deliberation. Additionally, we are working to improve the ergonomics of the submission process by now accepting sound files in place of physical CDs. There are improvements yet to be made, and I am confident that our respective boards will continue to work to find effective ways of harnessing 21st century technologies. Looking ahead, we hope to commission work that will engage the public more broadly and more creatively, including site-specific projects, and installations that engage the community in less traditional venues.
All of these things reinforce the notion that the essence of the Barlow Endowment is service: service to composers, service to ensembles, service to our profession, and service to communities. How grateful I am that we can gather together each year, with resources in hand, to build something of enduring, resplendent beauty.
H aving the opportunity to participate as a Barlow intern was among the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had a student. I was incredibly privileged to be around some of the top composing minds in the world and was able to gain a unique insight into what specific qualities are necessary for a successful, mature, impactful composition. I learned so many things about what I needed to apply to my own music and compositional processes in order to create meaningful music, as well as what things I needed to do to help me grow as a composer. From a competition standpoint, it was helpful to see what judges are looking for and what I can do to make music more engaging and fulfilling.
My understanding of and appreciation for quality music that was meaningful deepened as I was able to listen to insightful discussions about qualities of different pieces that were valuable to creating successful music. Additionally, I was able to engage in many conversations with the judges who were kind enough to give me specific advice about my compositional outputs, processes, and experiences. Overall, I felt enriched as a composer, musician, and person because of the interactions I was able to have with the many talented and successful people there as well as the impressive dialogues I was able to observe.
I am very grateful to the Barlow family, whose kindness and generosity made it possible for me to have this valuable experience. Their encouragement and contributions to ensure the continued success of music and the arts are greatly appreciated.
M y experience as an intern with the Barlow Endowment was deeply inspiring and informative. I was able to encounter firsthand the ideas that comprise today’s contemporary musical landscape. In addition, I was able to learn from a front-row perspective what composers, conductors, and performers look for when evaluating a new piece of music.
I was particularly struck by the types of questions that the judges would ask one another to determine the merit of a work. I found myself asking the same questions of my own music, and in the process was able to reevaluate my purpose as a composer. This has given me a greater commitment to honing my personal technique and communicating with the highest artistic standards. It also gives me a framework by which I can measure my progress as I work to develop my abilities.
The judges, a diverse group of composers and conductors, were generous, respectful, and insightful. I appreciated their friendliness as well as their advice concerning educational goals and potential career paths. I feel more prepared to consider graduate studies and understand better what I should be focusing on during my undergraduate experience. I feel that I have a clearer vision of my potential trajectory as an artist.
I’ve come away from my experience at the Barlow Endowment with a deepened dedication to my craft as well as greater confidence to achieve my educational and artistic goals. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Barlow family for making this experience possible.
I am thankful for the opportunity I was given to be a small part of this year’s Barlow Commission. It was educational to be exposed to the music of hundreds of composers and to hear the feedback and opinions of highly regarded music professionals. I now understand how to present my own music professionally and how valuable it is to have a strong network with other composers, performers, and ensembles. As my network begins to grow it will lead to increased performance quality of my work and increased freedom of expression in my composition.
By observing the judges, I feel that I have come to understand myself better. The mission of the Barlow Endowment and the intentions of each of the commissioning ensembles helped shape my view of new music: it embraces what makes us all human simultaneously with what humanity cannot understand, and then inspires us to seek growth in order to increase understanding. It is true artistic expression, and I have felt the pull to better myself. I want to have an impact through my music—to facilitate a connection between performer and listener, to create memorable experiences, and to be an inspiration to those who come into contact with my music. I feel my compositional voice has been refined, and I have greater confidence in my abilities to achieve these goals.
I am so grateful to the Barlow family. Thank you for establishing such an incredible culture of celebrating artistic expression. I know countless lives have been changed for good in the past 35 years, and I look forward to witnessing the future of music composition. Additionally, thank you for investing in me. It was an honor to be involved this year; it was an experience I will not soon forget.
T his opportunity to be an intern for the Barlow endowment has been an invaluable experience! The things I have learned from y observations has given me perspective on my future as a composer. I learned many things ranging from how to create an appealing score and how professional musicians evaluate music they come across, to how to better network among musicians and composers to get pieces performed. I am now more excited and confident in my future and in going to graduate school.
As I observed the judging process, I learned how composers and performers evaluate recordings and scores. I know it is important, of course, to not only provide everything that is requested, but it is also important to develop your own voice and write creatively. No one wants to listen to music that sounds like someone else’s voice. I believe this will be of great help to me as I apply to graduate schools and as I apply to contests in the future.
Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of this internship was having the opportunity to talk to professional composers about graduate school and life as a musician. We talked about what graduate schools look for in an applicant, how I should focus my studies as an undergraduate to prepare me for the future, how to balance work and life and finances as a professional musician, and many more things. This has given me more direction and confidence for these next few years in my life as I prepare to go to graduate school.
I would like to thank the Barlow family for providing this experience. I would highly recommend it to any aspiring composer. Thank you so much for this opportunity.
Barlow Board of Advisors
A s a prolific composer who blends Chinese and Western traditions, transcending cultural and musical boundaries, Dr. Chen Yi is Distinguished Professor at the Conservatory of Music and Dance in the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a recipient of the prestigious Charles Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her music is published by Theodore Presser Company, commissioned and performed world wide by such ensembles as the Cleveland Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the BBC Symphony and the Royal Philharmonic, the Seattle, Pacific, Singapore, China National, New Zealand symphonies, LA and China philharmonics, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and Sachsische Staatskapelle Dresden, recorded on Bis, New Albion, New World, Teldec, Albany, Bridge, Naxos, and many labels. She has received bachelor and master degrees in composition (1983 and 1986) from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and Doctor of Musical Arts degree (1993) from Columbia University in New York. Major composition teachers are Profs. Wu Zu-qiang, Chou Wen-chung and Mario Davidovsky. She has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005, and appointed to the Cheungkong Scholar Visiting Professor at the CCoM in 2006, and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Tianjin Conservatory in 2012.
* 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 2018 include two world premieres: Gateways, a double concerto premiered by the Piano-Erhu Project and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and Afterlight for soprano saxophone and piano, premiered at the 2018 World Saxophone Congress in Croatia. Other highlights include performances of her works by the Albany Symphony Orchestra at the SHIFT Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Little Giant Chinese Orchestra and the Turning Point Ensemble at the Taiwan National Concert Hall in Taipei, and performances by the Trinitas Chamber Ensemble, Magisterra Soloists, Sea and Sky Collective and Nu:BC Collective. Dorothy 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.
Barlow Board of Directors
Nancy Barlow Cox
Scott M. Boyter