The Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University proudly announces commission winners for 2019. After reviewing 276 submissions from 28 countries, the judging panel awarded Bekah Simms of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the $12,000 Barlow Prize to compose a major new work for Pierrot Ensemble with percussion and electronics. JUNO Award-nominated composer Bekah Simms’ varied output has been heralded as “nuanced and complex” (NOW Magazine) and “cacophonous, jarring, oppressive — and totally engrossing!” (CBC Music). Propelled equally by fascination and terror toward the universe, her work is often filtered through the personal lens of her anxiety. Foremost among her current compositional interests is quotation and the friction between recognizability and complete obfuscation. Dr. Simms hails from St. John’s, Newfoundland but is currently Toronto-based. Her music has been widely broadcast in Canada and the United States, performed across Canada, in over a dozen American states, Italy, Germany, Austria, Lithuania, and the UK and interpreted by a diverse range of top-tier performers including Esprit Orchestra, Continuum Contemporary Music, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, the Madawaska Quartet, Ensemble Paramirabo, TorQ Percussion Quartet, and Duo Concertante. Upcoming commissions include new works for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Telemaque (Marseille, France), Redshift, the 21C Festival, and more. In addition to commission and recording funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council, Dr. Simms has been the recipient of over 25 awards and prizes, including the 2017 Toronto Emerging Composer Award and the 2018 Karen Kieser Prize in Canadian Music. Her work “Granitic” was nominated for the 2019 JUNO Award for Classical Composition of the Year. Her music has twice been included in the Canadian Section’s official submission to World Music Days (2016 & 2019), and in 2016 the CBC included her among their annual 30 hot classical musicians under 30. She holds a D.M.A. and M.Mus in music composition from the University of Toronto, and a B.Mus.Ed. and a B.Mus in theory/composition from Memorial University of Newfoundland.
In considering 200 applications in our General and LDS commissioning programs, the Endowment granted $87,000 to 15 composers who will write works for the following ensembles and musicians:
Katherine Balch (Exceptet), Rohan Ravi Chander (Chromic), Takuma Itoh (Albany Symphony), Tonia Ko (Parhelion Trio), Andrew Maxfield (Salt Lake Symphony), Alyssa Morris (Richmond Symphony), David Reminick (Wendy Richman), Steve Ricks (SPLICE Ensemble), Erin Rogers (Kamraton), Kyle Shaw (Daniel Edwards), Joseph Sowa (Hub New Music), Jonny Stallings (Ned McGowan and Bart DeVrees), Ben Taylor (Symphonic Youth Orchestra of Greater Indianapolis), George Tsontakis (F-Plus), and Craig Woodward (Adam Woodward).
The judging panel included the Endowment’s Board of Advisors: Daniel Bradshaw, Chen Yi, Ben Sabey, and Neil Thornock. Dan Visconti served as a guest judge during all deliberations, and Crystal Young-Otterstrom, Reed Criddle, and Jeremy Grimshaw served as guest judges during General Commission deliberations. Kate Ellis (Crash Ensemble), Emi Ferguson (New York New Music Ensemble), and Lisa Kaplan (Eighth Blackbird) represented the performing consortia in selecting the Barlow Prize. Crash Ensemble, the New York New Music Ensemble, and Eighth Blackbird will premiere the winning composer’s new work in 2021.
The Endowment wishes to thank all composers and ensembles that applied for commissions. Because of limited resources and keen competition among hundreds of applicants, the Endowment regrets they were unable to fund all worthy projects. Next year’s Barlow prize will feature a new work for solo voice. Details and parameters for this commission will be available soon on our website and Facebook pages.