Judd Greenstein ’01 was awarded second place in the Alan Tindall Hutchinson Young Composers Competition. Monday Greenstein traveled to Washington D.C. for a concert by the Contemporary Music Forum. During the concert, the professional ensemble performed his award-winning composition.
The Young Composers Competition is a national competition sponsored by George Washington University for composers younger than 25 years old. To enter, each composer writes a 15 to 30 minute piece of chamber music to be performed by no more than eight instruments varying from the violin and piano to the soprano voice and engineered electronic media. The pieces were submitted on paper but could also be submitted as a taped recording. The competition yearly awards $5000 to up to three winners from the national pool of composers.
Greenstein was awarded $1250 for Suite for the Piano, which he composed before he enrolled in Williams. Greenstein considers Suite the best piece of music he has written. “It is a finished piece, unlike most of the other things I’ve done, which feel like parts of a bigger work,” he said. Suite is a piece in five movements. It ranges from modern-sounding 12-tone progressions that are fairly dissonant to more traditional tonally based progressions.
“I think it’s the variety that makes this work stand out,” Greenstein commented. “The third movement even quotes the ‘here comes the bride’ theme in honor of my piano teacher’s marriage.” Winning the competition was exciting for Greenstein because in addition to the monetary reward he received a free trip to Washington D.C. to hear his piece performed by professionals from the Contemporary Music Forum, who specialize in the performance of new pieces of music.
Greenstein has won other composing competitions. However, he felt that placing second in the Young Composers competition was an important recognition of his composing career entering a new stage. Other composing competitions that he had entered had been either highly political or amateurish. Recently, Greenstein was turned down for a commission because he was not old enough. At an awards ceremony for a previous composing competition for high school students, his piece was played poorly and the awards were gimmicky.
The experience was a let down for Greenstein. The Young Composer’s Competition was a much higher level of competition in which he found himself “on a level” with other composers his age from across the country. Because the competition was specifically for composers under 25, he felt that politics were less pervasive in this competition and that the judges were looking for the most interesting pieces of music.
Before coming to Williams, Greenstein was already heavily interested in composing. However, the music department encourages students with no composing experience to explore their musical creativity. Professor David Kechley, who debuted a new composition during a performance of the New England Conservatory Honors Orchestra on Saturday in Chapin Hall, has been especially instrumental in helping students learn about composing. According to Greenstein, the Williams music department is very good about helping students foster their composing talents. “Mike Veloso, who just graduated last year, is a fantastic composer, and he was a pre-med math major when he came [here,]” he stated.
The Alan Tindall Hutchinson Memorial Fund, which sponsors the Young Composers Competition, was established at George Washington University in 1991. The Memorial Fund commemorating Alan, who died of cerebral palsy in 1990, was created by Alan’s parents in order to encourage the study of music composition at the university level and to provide opportunities for student composers to have their works played by professional ensembles. Hutchinson’s mother, Ruth Hutchinson Calkins, an accomplished composer, received her master’s degree in music from the University in 1978. Information about entering the biannual competition can be found at http://www.gwu.edu/~music/Huch.html.