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String Ensemble Competition - Performance

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Hi All,

I haven't posted here in quite some time but am now a high school string orchestra teacher. I teach at a high school that I would say has an intermediate level orchestra for this age group and a select ensemble that plays quite well. I would like to open a composition contest for my group. Depending on difficulty it will either be performed by my senior high or select group. The winning composition will be written at an appropriate level, be musically interesting, and be neatly written. It is my first year at the school and it is early so I am still feeling them out but they have a lot of potential and sound great on certain things now. I would say they are capable of performing grade 4 works well at this time. Students are or close to comfortable playing in at least 3rd position on their instruments. Some are capable of more but if heavy shifting is involved it will likely not be feasible. Feel free to ask any questions. Rhythmically, the piece can feature mixed meter and the like but please avoid being disjunct in extremes. Please avoid overly complex bass parts. I CAN give feedback to in progress pieces. Because This will not be performed until the spring concert, I have decided to extend the deadline until December 1, 2012. I reserve to the right to pick no winner if I feel no piece fits the guidelines.

more advice/guidelines down the page!

Again, for submission, you must include:

PDF of score

Midi demo or recording of piece.

Ability to make clean parts if you win.

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Let me try to answer your questions:

The piece should have the following parts:

Vln I

Vln II




There can be some divisi within the parts as well.

Ian, I enjoyed your piece but it will need to be adapted to fit the competitions ensemble guidelines.

We have a lot of violins and are currently playing a piece w/ 4 vln parts.

Our instrumentation is not well balanced at the moment and we are not a huge ensemble: We have 27 vln, 5 vla, 4 vcl, 3 bass. However, the students are mostly pretty good players at their level and do well.

In terms of length, I typically program about a 3-8 minute piece of music. It may be in one or multiple short movements. I prefer a more modern harmony style but something that still contains melody and distinguishable rhythm that they can latch on to. I am pretty good at knowing what will and won't be playable so if you have any questions, ask! More than anything - write in YOUR style. I do not want traditional classical music that could have very well have been written by Haydn or Mozart. Nothing wrong with them of course, but we have a huge library of that kind of music. I want something unique for them. They will not do well with overly abstract music except perhaps if it is programatic in someway. I allow and encourage the use of innovative ideas such as a prerecorded track and programattic type ideas. I like creative things and normally students do as well. Assuming I get a good amount of entries I will post a few finalists on our orchestra web site and let the students have a vote for which one is performed.

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I have a piece uploaded here for string orchestra http://www.youngcomposers.com/music/2003/divertimento-no-1-in-g-op-1/ It doesn't really sound like it's the kind piece your looking for, though. It's supposed to be four movements long, but I only have only gotten around to finishing two of them. Since it was written a while ago, it's not really my best, but I still like it. Maybe I'll have time to come up with something new for this competition. We'll see.

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Whew... it should be quite hard to achieve acoustic balance writing a piece for that many violins supported by that few violas, cellos and basses :P ... Perhaps we could attempt to write not only for "Violins I" and "II"... but up to "III" and "IV"...

BTW, why did the posts' color turn into bright blue? I feet like reading Papa Smurf's Daily Bulletin...

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Answers to questions:

-October 11, 2012 is the deadline

-Soloists are acceptable but I would prefer it not to be a concerto type format (I have strong enough violin, viola, and cellists to handle this - not bass)

-They actually balance fairly well for their instrumentation but you can imagine it is not perfect - having 3 or 4 violin parts is acceptable and we are playing a piece that does this

-No limit to entries per person.

-Double stops:Fairly comfortable as long as they aren't stretches. For an idea of what they know, we are working on Sandra Dackow's arrangement of Shepherd's Hey which has 4 note chords in some of the violin parts.

-Harmonics: If used, should be used sparingly and for special effect. Most aren't aware they exist but I am not afraid of teaching them but keep it simple.

-I think that is all the questions except the smurf thing, not sure about that-haha..

I appreciate all the interest and look forward to hearing your works!

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Would you be interested in Concerto for piano and string orchestra? The piano part is not difficult - it's possible to be performed by pianist with 5-6 years of piano experience. The duration is about 8 and a half minutes.

Otherwise, I do also have a Concertino Semplice for strings, a short four movement suite-like composition. Which one would you prefer?

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Thanks for the submissions so far!

Hint to all: HS students enjoy a story with music, something that appeals to them. I am going to let them have the final vote. Making sure it is fun to play is a big deal. This doesn't mean it has to be cheesy or fast for them to enjoy it but be careful not to be too "sophisticated"

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