As a young composer, I’ve had a lot of firsts in the pieces that I’ve written; a first piece for piano, first arrangement, first hymn, and so on. As a young composer, I’ve also taken in any information I can from other experienced musicians, and even just little things people say that help refine the way I think in areas of music. It was through listening to what a very good friend of mine said over a year ago when he suggested I get into a composers competition.
I didn’t have much to offer at the time, but I kept remembering what he told me and after about a year I looked into finding one that would be good to enter. I was too late to enter in the one I found, plus it cost eighty dollars as an entry fee (but it would probably be worth it, because they play your piece live if you win. Not that I would win, necessarily.) I left the thought for a while and just went about the other things I had to do. Until recently as I was thinking about some goals for the year of reaching out to other musicians and making contacts, I remembered what my friend had told me about entering in a competition and began looking harder for one that I could enter.
About three weeks ago I found the “Morton Gould Young Composer Awards” that American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has every year. There were several obstacles I had to ask my parents about before I could even consider entering, but after we figured everything out, I started picking up my piano trio that I had started last year. It was the deadline that made it hard.
I had to have the piece composed, send in the sheet music with the application forum, and have a recording ready by the 1st of February at the latest. I planned it all out and was sure that if I worked hard I could get it done just a few days before the deadline, using good quality instrument sounds instead of real performers (I know… it’s sad. But it’s what I’ve got).
For the first movement, I had a melody that everyone liked a lot, however, I knew it was going to be too easy to overuse it, but that it would also be easy to underuse it. So by my mom’s suggestion, I listened to other composer’s pieces and found one that fit perfectly to my own piece, in that it was a captivating melody that could be over or underused. Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 1 is the piece I studied and analyzed to apply to my own piece. When I finished composing it I let a lot of my friends listen to it and asked what they thought about it. None of them said I overused anything, and they all said they enjoyed it. Praise the Lord!
For the second movement, I had several melodies in mind and only ended up using two. I took a technique I learned from a Christmas arrangement I learned and applied it to my own melody in a similar way, as it was very powerful, but not extremely difficult either.
The third movement I tried a few things, but it just didn’t work. I was really stuck, and at the same time crushed inbetween a very small timeframe. So I went to my older sister, who is one of my music companions you might say, and asked her to help me define how the third movement should sound. Defining things like that doesn’t come easily for me. Long story short, she helped me think of the piece as a storm, which helped me be able to compose my third movement much better than it was looking like before. The message of this piece is to portray some of what is spoken of in Psalm 19:1a, “The heavens declare the glory of God”
The piece is supposed to portray the beauty of the ‘desert monsoons’ we have out where I live. Many people would think of the desert as a completely dry and ugly place, but the opposite is true (well, maybe not about the dry part xD). Our storms out here reflect the majesty, power and beauty of our God.
The first movement is called Anticipation, when you see the storm afar off, and know it’s coming soon. The clouds mixed with the splendor of the sun rays coming up over the mountains in the morning with a pink-orange color that colors the sky. Seeing the storm almost makes you feel you’re in it, however it hasn’t come yet.
The second movement, Prelude, is when the rain just starts to display itself in a quiet, reflecting way, and gives you a nice breath of fresh air as it clears up the sky.
And the third movement is called Tempest & Resolve. It begins with the wind starting to pick up speed, and within seconds you’re deep into the almost frightening thunder and lightning. This continues for most of the piece, until the end when the storm stops, and the rains comes down a little bit like in the second movement (but with a motif from the first movement). Then the clouds begin to part, and the sky clears again, leaving the listener with an encouraged and refreshed feeling.
I just finished everything necessary to fill in the application forum and sent it to New York for the judges to look at. I should know who the winners are by the 15th of May at the latest.
If you would like to listen to the piece, you may do so here.
I pray that God will use this piece for His glory, and the edification of the saints.
~Soli Deo Gloria