2012: Tim Rauen, Established in 2006 in honor of Wilmer Hayden Welsh, Composer and Professor of Music at Davidson College from 1963-1991, this award recognizes the best original music composition by a Davidson student written in the previous calandar year.
Our 2012 prize goes to Tim Rauen for his piece, Julia, for flute and piano. This composition was written as the final project for MUS 261 Introduction to Composition in Fall 2011. The composer writes:
"The title of this piece was inspired by my intent to write a piece that I could play with my sister Julia. She is a flautist and I a pianist. The harmony and voicing of the piece reflect an ideal sibling relationship in which each voice influences and balances the other. An opening flute solo is soon supported with a piano accompaniment. In this opening section, the flute presents the melodic motif that will be repeated and varied throughout the piece. Like two people who appreciate and admire each other greatly, the two instruments subtly echo and reinvent each other’s music. The melody progresses through a number of key changes and variations, and the two instruments occasionally swap roles to play previous gestures with new voicing. Midway through the piece, when the piano takes the melody into a minor key, the flute follows enthusiastically, introducing a series of lively melodic ideas that both instruments explore in turns. A brief return to the original theme, followed by a return to the second theme brings the work to a dynamic conclusion."
Julia was performed on New Music Davidson, December 6, 2011, Daniel Legrand on flute and Michael Rowland on piano.
2011: Paul Sayed, Three Poems of Henry David Thoreau. Scored for soprano, violin, cello, and piano, and composed in the MUS 263 Composition in Non-Western Styles class in Spring 2010, the composer writes: “….this song cycle sets poetry by Thoreau in a through-composed style to render a tone painting of the meanings of the text. Each song in the cycle emphasizes either the interval of a seventh or its inverse, the second, and presents a complex manipulation of rhythm such as polyrhythm, mixed meter, or additive meter. Additionally, the three songs each incorporate a different harmonic language to draw out the different tone of each of the poems. Yet Let Us Thank the Purblind Race employs a twelve-tone row in conjunction with an additive meter to disorient the listener from the music and redirect their ears to words being sung. Ep[itaph] on the World uses a low tone cluster and sparse melodic fragments to depict the barren and infinite landscape for the cemetery in which the world might be buried. In the third song, What’s the Railroad to Me, a tonal framework correlates to the concrete surroundings of the railroad, while the use of clusters and irregular rhythmic patterns conjure the haunting uncertainty of where the railroad leads.” Sayed’s song cycle was premiered on New Music Davidson by Artist Associate in Voice, Jacque Culpepper, violinist Ryan Cockman (2010), adjunct instructor in cello and Principal Cellist with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Alan Black, and Artist Associate in Piano, Cynthia Lawing.
2010: Waylen Roche, Wolf Rock Delirium, for saxophone, viola and piano. Wolf Rock Delirium, in the composer's words "represents a young wolf's journey into the dark and mysterious woods of adulthood." Rhythmic, tonal and formal materials are handled with sophistication and imagination, with Roche threading, sewing and weaving (to use, again, words from his notes on the piece) a sonic tapestry of relationships coming in and out of conjunction. The piece was premiered by Joe Burquist, viola, Charlie Ford, alto saxophone, and the composer on piano.
2009: Paul Sayed, A Tango in Yellow, for flute, violin, guitar, vibraphone and piano. An evocative and beautifully crafted play on Spanish and Latin-American dance styles such as the tango, the flamenco and the samba, the work spins through a kaleidescope of energetic states, or as the composer describes them, a feverish hallucination, beginning Freely a la Flamenco, and proceeding along through Steady, Dance, Sweet and Gentle, Feverish and Dizzy, Euphoria, Sweet and Excited, Anxious, Passionate and Fiery.... Paul skillfully utilizes a chromatic palette to render elusive harmonic motion and obscures and distorts the characteristic dance rhythms to seduce us into his vision. The piece was premiered by Alexis Valauri-Orton, flute, Molly Barnes, violin, Jake Engel, guitar, Tara Villa-Chamra, vibraphone, and Michael Rowland, piano.
2008: Mario Silva, Ideas, for trumpet and two pianos. From the composer's program notes: "I decided upon a set of variations on a preexisting theme. But as is often the case the original idea and end product have little relation to each other. However, this piece, Ideas, does bear a relation to a theme and variation form. The difference is that there is no unifying musical line that ties it together. Instead there are various short motives that recur throughout the piece. So it is a kind of perpetual variation. There is no strong reference point from which it derives nor is there a definite ending to which it arrives. Without a musical context tension pervades. This lack of a unified concept led me to choose the title, Ideas. It is as if I am pondering, jumping from thought to thought building from one to the next and then leaving them undecided." The piece was premiered byBill Lawing, trumpet, and Michael Rowland and Emily Howe, piano.
2007: Will Winter, for his incidental music for Davidson College's production of Rupert Barber's rendition of Sleeping Beauty.