World class composers descended on Cornwall from Seattle, Shanghai and Surrey to claim their prizes in the hotly contested Composers’ Competition - a jewel in the crown of Cornwall’s biennial International Male Choral Festival.
Kari Cruver Medina from the USA, Norwegian Jens Peter Jongepier who lives and works in China and Ian Assersohn from Epsom in Surrey arrived at Truro College where the awards’ ceremony and premiere performances of their compositions were live-streamed to world-wide audiences.
All three composers were overwhelmed by the rendition of their music by the Truro School Barbershop Boys and choral scholars from Truro Cathedral, conducted by CIMCF Artistic Director Gareth Churcher.
The winning pieces will also be performed at next year’s Festival – the largest event of its kind in the world - which runs from the 2nd to 6th of May 2019. More than 60 choirs from across the globe will gather for more than 50 concerts and events in 40 venues right across Cornwall.
“It’s the first time in the Festival’s fifteen year history that we have opened our prestigious Competition up to composers beyond the UK and the response has been absolutely astonishing,” says Gareth. “We had more entries than ever with 49 composers from as far away as Russia and New Zealand, as well as 28 from the UK. It just shows how this fabulous event has grown in stature and reputation on a world stage.”
The quality and quantity of the entries created tough decisions for competition adjudicator Alan Bullard – but finally Kari Medina’s complex and powerful setting of the Robert Burns poem Winter Has Come won her the top prize of £1000 along with the Harold and Thelma Miller Trophy.
Alan says Kari’s winning composition, “communicates well the stormy winter and the rising of the spring with punchy rhythms and metre changes…This piece brings something different and liberating to the male voice choir world and a confident performance will be exciting for both performers and audiences alike."
Kari is a Seattle-based composer and pianist whose work spans a broad range of stylistic traditions and whose music has been featured across the United States and abroad, with choral and orchestral works premiered recently in both Europe and Asia.
On winning the international Competition she says, “This has been such an opportunity for me – to come to this beautiful county of Cornwall with its incredible Male Voice Choral tradition and to hear the boys singing my work is amazing.
“I did not throw friendly parts to them – some of those notes were stratospheric and they just went for it. The rhythm is really challenging and they did a fantastic job.”
Ian Assersohn, a composer, arranger and choral director who won the Competition in 2014, came away with top prize of £1000 in the Cambiata category with his composition for young male voices, Slow Down. He also took third prize in the main competition with When I Set Out For Lyonesse, pipped for second place by composer, musician and music teacher Jens Jongpier’s composition The Blue of Distance.
With the 2019 Festival’s emphasis on the young singers who will take the male choral tradition into the future, Ian says it was a challenge and a privilege to compose a winning piece of music specifically for voices which are changing: “Writing a cambiata piece is not like writing for any other group,” he says. “I had to do a lot of scientific reading to understand what was required and how it would work and I was really pleased with the result.”
1st Adult Category - Kari Cruver Medina ‘Winter Has Come’
2nd Adult Category - Jens Peter Jongepier ‘The Blue of Distance’
3rd Adult Category - Ian Assersohn ‘When I Set Out For Lyonesse’
Commended - Richard A Williamson ‘Alleluia’
Commended - Jo Scullin ‘For The Fallen’
1st Cambiata Category - Ian Assersohn ‘Slow Down’
Commended - Sheena Phillips ‘A Song about Fish’
Commended - Edmund Jolliffe ‘Jabberwocky’