2017 Report

he Barlow Education Grant supports students and faculty of the BYU School of Music in their education and their professional endeavors in music composition.
stevenricks cropped
Steven RicksProfessor
BYU School of Music


A large share of the Education Grant funds go towards direct student support by way of scholarships, assistantships, internships, and travel awards and fee support for festivals and performances. Funds also provide support for guest composers and performers who work directly with students.

Established in 2011, the Milton A. Barlow Scholarship and the Barlow Student Composition Award are ongoing scholarships and awards presented to the most outstanding composition student(s) in our program.  The Milton A. Barlow Scholarship is a one-year, full tuition scholarship, and the Barlow Student Composition Award is a $500 award that carries with it a commission to write a new piece for one of BYU’s premiere large ensembles.

These two named awards have added prestige and visibility to the composition area, and we look forward to the continued success of the recipients and to the recognition these awards bring to the Endowment.

Jonny Stallings

The recipient of both the Milton A. Barlow Scholarship and one of two Barlow Student Composition Awards for 2017 was Austin Lopez. Austin is one of our most talented undergraduate composers who has excelled in both acoustic composition and electronic music. His final project for the advanced orchestration course (Music 581) in Winter 2017 was particularly impressive, so he was the faculty’s top choice for each honor.

For his Barlow Student Composition Award, Austin was invited to write a new work for the BYU Philharmonic under the direction of Kory Katseanes. He completed an energetic, rock-inspired piece called Hardline that was premiered in February 2018. Austin also presented a compelling senior recital in February and is heading into graduation this summer with some great momentum, thanks in large part to all this support from the Barlow Endowment.

We continued our efforts to broaden the influence of the Barlow Endowment and provide more opportunities to our students by giving a second Barlow Student Composition Award to Jonny Stallings, a second-year masters student in music composition. Jonny is an accomplished jazz pianist in addition to being a composer and currently plays in Synthesis, BYU’s top jazz ensemble, so arranging for his commission to be from them was a logical choice. His new work will be premiered in March 2018 and has helped his impressive development as a composer. Jonny is on track to graduate this August and plans to pursue a doctorate in music composition in the coming years.

2016 Barlow Student Composition Award recipients, Nicolas Ayala and Stuart Wheeler, each had successful performances of their commissions in 2017 by the BYU Wind Symphony and BYU Singers, respectively. Nicolas Ayala’s piece, Fanfare, was a stirring anthem premiered on March 3 in the de Jong Concert Hall along with works by British Master Gustav Holst and an arrangement of the American standard “Georgia On My Mind.” Stuart Wheeler’s piece, Did Rise, drew on influences from shaped-note singing and other American traditions, and received its premiere on April 7, 2017, in the de Jong Concert Hall.

Austin LopezBM Music Composition

“It has certainly changed the way I view the composition world.”

– Austin Lopez

July 2017 marked the twelfth year BYU student interns have assisted with the annual Barlow summit and Barlow Prize and Commissions judging. Four of our students—Caleb Cuzner, Austin Lopez, Lexi Peel, and Jonny Stallings—helped prepare for the annual summit by coordinating hundreds of scores, recordings, and other materials that would be used in the judging process. They then attended the summit, which included several days of reviewing scores and judging by the Barlow Board of Advisors and guest judges. Students not only observed the judging process first hand while assisting in the various rooms, but also had several opportunities to interact directly with these professional composers and performers during meals and breaks. The Barlow Internship has been a great boost to our program and we look forward to its continuation.

Barlow funds provided support, along with substantial grants from the BYU Graduate School (a Graduate Mentoring Award) and Laycock Center in the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications, for the BYU Amsterdam Composition Workshop–an intensive two-week workshop hosted by the venue Splendor Amsterdam with participation by several Netherlands-based composers and performers. Eight BYU composition students–Kevin Anthony, Nicolas Ayala, Caleb Cuzner, David Jones, Austin Lopez, Lexi Peel, Jonny Stallings, and Stuart Wheeler–traveled to Amsterdam and Paris with BYU faculty composers Christian Asplund and Steve Ricks to work with composers Oguz Buyukberber, David Dramm, Anne La Berge, and Ned McGowan, and have works performed by Amsterdam-based ensembles Hexnut and Duo X. Students were also able to attend several world-class performances at the Holland Festival and at the Cité de la Musique in Paris including performances by pianist Margaret Leng Tan, Musikfabriek, and Ensemble Intercontemporain of premieres by George Crumb, electronica band Mouse on Mars, and Harvard Faculty Composer Chaya Czernowin. It was an amazing trip that provided our students with international exposure and professional training.

Barlow funds, along with BYU Inspiring Learning funds, helped Austin Lopez attend two events that deepened his knowledge of a cutting-edge sound design system called “Kyma.” He attended the Future Music Oregon festival in May at the University of Oregon, and the 2017 Kyma International Sound Symposium (KISS) in October in Oslo, Norway. At both events he attended several concerts and workshops focused on learning and exploring the possibilities of the Kyma system, which was very helpful to Austin as he developed an interesting composition for the system and the Wacom digital tablet that he presented on Utah Crosstalk concerts. He is also now creating tutorials for the system I can use to teach students in the future.

Barlow Education Grant funds continue to provide needed and valuable support for our composition courses, providing honoraria for student performers that workshop and perform pieces by developing student composers. The practical training our composition students receive from these performances is a key part of their success in our program and in their consistent acceptance into competitive graduate programs.

Visiting Scholars

Barlow funds support Barlow Lectures and residencies by guest composers each year that provide our students with exposure to the top practitioners of their craft. In addition to the public lecture, students meet with these guests individually and in small groups for private composition lessons, and also interact during a shared lunch and in other less formal contexts. This year Barlow funds supported visits by four distinguished guests–Eastman faculty composer David Liptak, Amsterdam-based composers/performers Anne La Berge and David Dramm, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw.

Visits by David Liptak, Anne La Berge, and David Dramm all occurred in March 2017. Liptak’s presented a Barlow Lecture, gave private lessons, and his newly-revised Piano Trio no. 2 was performed by the award-winning BYU student Timpanogos Trio. Anne La Berge and David Dramm are successful American-born composers and performers who having been living and working in Amsterdam, Netherlands, since the 1980’s. They presented a joint lecture that included discussions of their creative work and the establishment of Splendor Amsterdam—a venue in Amsterdam owned and operated by a collective of composer and performers that they helped develop and continue to help run. Their evening concert featured La Berge’s new multimedia work Utter, for flute, interactive electronics, and video via several iPads.

Caroline Shaw was visiting as a member of the vocal group she helped create, Roomful of Teeth, and she participated in an excellent Oscarson Lecture for the School of Music that surveyed a number of stylistic influences from around the world the group incorporates. Barlow funds allowed her to present a lecture on her Pulitzer Prize-winning work, Partita, to the composition seminar. Her energy was infectious and it was inspirational to see someone so young discuss her career and teach our students about possible career paths in music.

David Liptak
David Dramm and Anne La Berge
Caroline Shaw


Barlow funds continue to support worthy faculty projects and activities, as a way of increasing the profile and reputation of our area, and as a means to ensure our faculty are in the best position to instruct the students in current trends and practices.

This year funds supported Neil Thornock in travel to Scotland in May for the premiere of a new organ work; Christian Asplund and fellow collaborator Logan Hone for Thelonious Monk-inspired concerts in Los Angeles and Seattle as invited guests at festivals; Michael Hicks for travel and lodging to attend and present an address at the inaugural Mormon Arts Festival at the Mormon Arts Center in New York, NY; and Steve Ricks to attend the Prisms Festival at Arizona State University which included attending a Kyma workshop with Kyma co-creators Carla Scaletti and Kurt Hebel. Funds also helped support a performance by Steven Ricks and Christian Asplund in May at Casper College in Casper, Wyoming.

The Barlow Education Grant continues to support a variety of worthwhile and productive activities within the BYU School of Music composition area. We greatly appreciate these funds and will continue to use them in interesting and helpful ways.