Caleb Cuzner

P articipating as an intern was a great opportunity to witness what standards applicants are held to at music composition competitions. The insights of each judge helped shape my future as a composer, and seeing how much work goes into these competitions was fascinating. The Barlow Endowment has excellent judges from a variety of backgrounds, and seeing them work together to determine the winners was a really neat experience. From my conversations with the judges, I learned the importance of keeping music exciting and engaging. The value of having neat, detailed scores and getting the best recordings possible was made very clear. I also had the opportunity to talk with the judges about my plans to pursue a career in film and video game scoring. They gave me great input based on experiences that either they or their students have had, such as the value of writing music for games made by students and the importance of making notation clear and indisputable when recording a film score. These insights will help increase the quality of my music, and I will especially keep everything I learned in mind when putting together my portfolio for graduate school applications. I would recommend interning at this competition to anyone who is pursuing a career in music composition, regardless of their tastes or career plan. Thank you to the Barlow family for making this experience possible.

Austin Lopez

I am thoroughly grateful for the amazing opportunity I had to participate as an intern for the Barlow Commission. I have learned so much and it has helped me to be a better composer. The knowledge of how a competition is run is invaluable. Being able to see what goes on behind the scenes and to understand the amount of work that it takes to determine the winners will help me in my future submissions. Listening to the judges perspectives on all the different pieces really opened my eyes to the process. Also hearing what contemporary composers are writing today was both comforting and humbling. I was able to place myself on the spectrum with current composers to see where I need to improve and where my strengths are.

Interacting with the judges between judging times was also a delight. I got to learn about their careers and receive advice for my future career. I definitely came away with the drive to compose more and enter every competition I can find. I also was inspired for my future music from listening to all of the pieces during the competition. I heard new techniques and ideas that will help to freshen up my music and style. I also learned that I need to focus more on being able to describe my “style” to others. It will help me to be a more confident and respected composer.

I want to thank the Barlow family for allowing me to participate in this wonderful event. It has certainly changed the way I view the composition world.

Lexi Peel

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to participate as an intern for the Barlow Commission this summer. It has been a valuable and eye-opening experience. I was able to peek behind the curtain, so to speak, and see the hours of work that go into a competition such as this one, not only during judging but in preparation for it. I think one of the most valuable things for me, as a student composer, was being able to listen to what the judges had to say about each entry and learn what they were looking for in a prize-winning piece. Also interesting was the chance it gave me to hear what contemporary composers of many skill levels are doing in music today.

It was encouraging to be able to talk to the judges, other composers, and performers about their thoughts on music and aesthetics and what makes a strong piece. Seeing the process and meeting the people involved has encouraged me to enter more competitions; even if I don’t win, I’ve realized the importance of participating just for the sake of getting my music out to an audience. I also valued the introspection that occurred as I listened to other composers’ music. I found myself thinking about my own music and aesthetic, and I feel that this reflection has not only helped me come to a deeper understanding of my voice as a composer, but also given me new tools and ideas to improve my technique.

Again, I’m humbled and grateful to have been a part of this experience. I greatly appreciate the generosity of the Barlow family, which has allowed me to have this opportunity.

Jonny Stallings

I had an enjoyable and fruitful experience as an intern for the Barlow Endowment this summer. The composers, performers, and others involved were all very approachable and insightful. I had the chance to get to know these people, learn about their current work, and gain insights and advice for my own work and career path. I also had the chance to hear and see the work of many current composers giving me ideas to explore in my own music. Having had this experience, I am motivated to write what I enjoy and do so in such a way that my ideas, aesthetics, and interests are made clear to the listener. When it comes to submitting work to a competition there is only so much the listeners can get from the music within the allotted time. I have concluded that this applies not only to composition competitions but also in many other contexts. I want to eliminate the excess in my work so as to leave only what is necessary for the listener to connect with the music.

I am very grateful for this opportunity made possible by the Barlow Family. Through their support for the arts I received experience assisting in a unique and professional musical environment. With this experience I gained insights into my musical pursuits and made connections with various professionals that wouldn’t have been possible without the Barlow Endowment experience.