March 19, 2014

Inaugural Composer-Performer Competition Culminates 3/30

On Sunday, March 30, the inaugural Carl E. Baldassarre Composer Competition concludes with a concert by the finalists in Mixon Hall at noon. Audiences are encouraged to attend and will play an important role in the final outcome of the competition.

“The compositions come in all shapes, sizes and genres, with the common thread being that they’re all excellent,” said Trustee and competition founder Carl Baldassarre. “These young composer-performers are competing for prize money totaling $5,000!”

Ten student finalists from both the Preparatory and Conservatory (non-composer majors) divisions of CIM will perform the world premiere of their original works for the audience and competition judges.

The audience will play an important role by voting for their favorite overall work. The “Audience Prize” of $250 dollars will be awarded to the composer-performer who receives the most votes.

The competition comes on the heels of the last three academic years at CIM — the years of Community, Culture and now the Composer-Performer. Baldassarre worked to build on the school’s mission to educate the complete musician by creating a competition that seeks to embody all of these themes.

In a letter to CIM Trustees, Baldassarre explained his goal:


First, in a conscious effort to return to the compositional model of the earliest days of classical music, our young composers will PERFORM THEIR OWN WORKS. This competition provides both an incentive and a marketplace for students to bring their original works to the stage as both the composer AND the performer - just like it all began centuries ago. As a side note, beginning the fall of 2014, CIM will offer a new combined degree in Composition and Performance. Building on the legacy of the school’s founding and punctuated by the upcoming debut of Daniil Trifonov’s Concerto, history will no doubt give a celebrated account of these latest efforts at CIM. Our esteemed faculty and the culture they have created will continue to be the catalyst and compass for our students enabling the very best composer-virtuosi to add to the next repertoire of culturally-relevant works.


As you might have guessed, culture plays an enormous part in the spirit of this competition. Each applicant is asked to consider three-dimensions in their compositional craft: Pitch, Pulse and Purpose. By adding the additional dimension of Purpose (or as the students have called it — the “Z-factor”), the young composers are challenged to see beyond the two-dimensional world in standard notation (i.e. pitch and pulse) and enter the realm of culture: seeking a form of expression relevant, communicatory and shared. These young composer-performers were asked to create a work reflecting something about themselves, an experience or something they value; all in a culturally-relevant dialect. In short, they have been asked to be cultural troubadours.


Third, when we celebrated the year of community in 2011/12, we also celebrated a subtle form of community: THE AUDIENCE. An audience is a community of people who assemble for a common purpose and experience. Most importantly, an audience represents the key constituent of any successful composer-performer's career (or any career for that matter): THE CUSTOMER! Through this competition we hope to link the composer-performer and their work (their product) with their audience-community (the customer). Therefore, the Audience Prize vote symbolizes the “voice of the customer” and the relationship between an audience-community and the composer-performer. This linkage also represents a reversion to the earliest models of composer-virtuosi throughout history. On March 30, CIM’s audience-community will have a voice and be included with its vote.

The Complete Musician

A few years ago, CIM defined its vision as being the "center for the education of the Complete Musician." You'll be happy to know that our students are being asked to come to this concert well-rehearsed, professionally dressed, well-spoken and prepared to network. These are all attributes of well-rounded, successful people in any career. We hope to incentivize the behavior of the Complete Musician through this competition both now and in the years to come. Not every student will become a composer, but every student who wants to compose should be given the chance. The skills required to form and present a persuasive "essay," whether it be by written word, spoken word, or the pitch, pulse and purpose of music, will be skills that follow our students no matter their path in the future.