ACF Names 2014 National Composition Contest Winner
American Composers Forum (ACF) has named Todd Lerew (CalArts) the winner of the 2014 National Composition Contest for his work, flagging entrainment of ultradian rhythms and the consequences thereof. As a reward, Lerew has been given a cash prize of $2,000 and his piece will be toured by So Percussion in future seasons. The piece was commissioned by ACF along with the works of two other competition finalists -- Michael Laurello (Yale School of Music) and Kristina Warren (University of Virginia) -- which were workshopped by So Percussion as part of the the group's Summer Institute at Princeton University and premiered on July 20.
Based in Los Angeles, Lerew (b. 1986) works with invented acoustic instruments, repurposed found objects, and unique preparations of traditional instruments. He is the inventor of the Quartz Cantabile, which uses a principle of thermoacoustics to convert heat into sound, and has presented the instrument at Stanford's CCRMA, the American Musical Instrument Society annual conference, the Guthman Musical Instrument Competition at Georgia Tech, and Machine Project in Los Angeles. He is the founder and curator of Telephone Music, a collaborative music and memory project based on the children's game of Telephone, the last round of which was released as an exclusive download to subscribers of music magazine The Wire. His solo piece for e-bowed gu zheng, entitled Lithic Fragments, is available on cassette on the Brunch Groupe label. His pieces have been performed by members of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the Wet Ink Ensemble (New York), the Now Hear Ensemble (Santa Barbara), and the Canticum Ostrava choir (Czech Republic).
The National Composition Contest is open to composers currently enrolled in graduate and undergraduate institutions in the United States; this year's installment drew more than 250 applicants from 39 states. Each finalist received an award of $1,000 plus an additional stipend of $750 to help defray expenses associated with attending the workshop and studio performance.
"The Forum is thrilled with the opportunity to connect new voices with extraordinary ensembles like So Percussion," said John Nuechterlein, Forum president and CEO. "Similar to our previous collaborations with eighth blackbird and JACK Quartet, the discovery process is exhilarating for the performers and immensely rewarding for the selected composers. We were delighted that Todd, Michael and Kristina were able to network with so many composers and performers during the So Percussion Summer Institute"
Says Adam Sliwinski of So Percussion, "The American Composers Forum competition offered So Percussion a chance to reach out and find exciting young compositional talent. We expressly requested to judge blindly, and the three finalists all caught our ears in unique ways. There were so many excellent submissions. The ACF has established a wonderful precedent for a competition that is favorable for everybody involved, and we're ecstatic to get three new pieces out of it!"
The competition began during the 2010-11 season as the Finale National Composition Contest, partnering with the group eighth blackbird. JACK Quartet was the ensemble for 2011-12. The competition went on hiatus last season, returning in September 2013 under its new name, the American Composers Forum National Composition Contest.
Michael Laurello (b. 1981) is an American composer and pianist. He has written for ensembles and soloists such as the Yale Baroque Ensemble, Sound Icon, the 15.19 Ensemble, NotaRiotous (the Boston Microtonal Society), guitarist Flavio Virzì, soprano Sarah Pelletier, pianist/composer John McDonald, and clarinetist and linguist/music theorist Ray Jackendoff. Laurello is an Artist Diploma candidate in Composition at the Yale School of Music, studying with David Lang and Christopher Theofanidis. He earned an M.A. in Composition from Tufts University under John McDonald, and a B.M. in Music Synthesis (Electronic Production and Design) from Berklee College of Music where he studied jazz piano performance with Laszlo Gardony and Steve Hunt. He has attended composition festivals at highSCORE (Pavia, Italy) and Etchings (Auvillar, France), and was recently recognized with an Emerging Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation (Boston, MA). In addition to his work as a composer and performer, Laurello is a recording and mixing engineer.
Composer and vocalist Kristina Warren (b. 1989) holds a B.A. in Music Composition from Duke University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Composition and Computer Technologies from the University of Virginia. Recent works include Three Sonnets of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (soprano, electronics), Folk Studies No. 1 (Up in the A.M.), No. 2 (Vimeda Sakla), and No. 3 (Shousty) for voice-based electronics, and Pogpo (electric guitar quartet). Warren's research interests include voice, electronics, and questions of aleatory and performance practice in conjunction with various non-Eurocentric musics, such as folk music and Korean p'ansori. Warren's compositions have been performed across the US and in Europe, and she has been fortunate to study composition with Ted Coffey, Judith Shatin, Anthony Kelley, Scott Lindroth, and John Supko.