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ASU School of Music announces winners of 2020 ASU Concerto and Composition competitions

ASU Symphony students

ASU Symphony Orchestra

March 26, 2020

The ASU School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts has announced four winners in the 2020 Concerto Competition and three winners in the 2020 Composition Competition.

“The composition competition is a new and exciting addition to this year’s competition,” said Jeffery Meyer, ASU School of Music associate professor and director of orchestras. “We are trying to give ASU composers meaningful opportunity to write new works through this competition.”

Ten finalists in the areas of piano, voice, violin, clarinet, oboe, trombone and tuba performed in the competition finals in late January, with four students selected to perform concertos with four different School of Music ensembles in the upcoming concert season.

The concerto winners are Nathan Bitter, trombone, who will perform Concerto for Trombone (Launy Grondahl, 1886-1960) with the ASU Wind Symphony; Julian Nguyen, violin, who will perform Violin Concerto (Erich Wolfgang Korngold, 1897-1957) with the ASU Symphony Orchestra; Michael Robinson, clarinet, who will perform Concerto No. 2 (Carl Maria von Weber, 1786-1826) with the ASU Wind Ensemble; and John Solari, piano, who will perform Concerto for the Left Hand (Maurice Ravel, 1786-1826) with the ASU Symphony Orchestra.

Meyer chaired both competitions, and ASU music faculty served as jury members for both competitions. The concerto jury consisted of one faculty member from each music area plus three instrumental ensemble directors. Jury members were Meyer; Jason Caslor, director of wind ensembles; Julie Desbordes, ASU Philharmonia music director; Katherine McLin, strings; Albie Micklich, woodwinds; Robert Hamilton, keyboard; Carole FitzPatrick, voice; Joe Burgstaller, brass; and Charles Lynch, percussion/guitar/harp. The jury for the composition competition included Meyer, Desbordes, Caslor and three members of the ASU composition faculty: Jody Rockmaker, Alex Temple and Gabriel Bolaños.

Through a juried selection process, three winning composers were selected to write new works to premiere next concert season.

The composition winners are Daniel Taborda Higuita, who will write a composition for the ASU Symphony Orchestra; Ziyu Wang, who will write a composition for the ASU Wind Ensemble; and Ashlee Busch, who will write a composition for the ASU Philharmonia.

Meyer said that the reason for having the students write new works as opposed to performing previously written works is to foster their creativity and composition skills during their time at ASU, creating the opportunity to work with their composition professors who will mentor them throughout the creative process. He said the new works would also be workshopped with the ensembles, which provides the students the best experience possible.

“These days, it is difficult for young composers to find opportunities to write for orchestra and large ensemble as they are developing as artists,” Meyer said. “The wind band world has more opportunities for new music because the repertoire is smaller in terms of historical perspective. It is rare but essential to create opportunities to write for orchestra. This is an important addition to our competition offerings for our students.”

Performance dates, times and locations for each concert next season will be listed on the School of Music website

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