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Music Composers Unite!

UPDATE: Hi everyone, I'd just like to update and announce that I have won 1 of the 3 places in the Young Composers Challenge orchestral division! I will receive 1000$, along with a professional live recording of my piece in Orlando where I will be attending a rehearsal of it etc.!

I am very excited and I owe a great deal of my success to the input I have received here. Thanks guys! 

(My name is Daniel Zarb-Cousin and the piece is Largo for Orchestra)
http://www.youngcomposerschallenge.com/

Here is the piece/judge comments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZnAxqDkIGE&sns=fb

Hi everyone. I haven't posted here for a while, but I have come back for some advice. 

First off, I'd like to share that I have made it to the finals of the Young Composers Challenge which is a national composers contest for teens aged up to 18. I have found out I am in the top 7 out of 80 submissions. I have yet to win and get into the final 3. Cross your fingers! :-)

Here is the piece along with judge comments afterwards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZnAxqDkIGE&sns=fb

The website: http://www.youngcomposerschallenge.com/



Anyway, with that being said, I am a junior and after summer will be a senior and I am getting started in the whole college thing. I'm in SoCal but would like to leave and move somewhere colder within the country. I'd prefer to study composition at a conservatory but I realize that I need to be open to other places. 

So, my request is for general advice about the best way to go about studying composition after high school. Are the big music conservatories like Curtis and New England and etc. really all that good for composition like they are for performance? What schools are best for classical composition? How should I go about application pieces? Is it better to write them on software with playback or should I go the more genuine route of writing on piano on paper?

If you need more info from me to answer these please do ask. 

Thanks! I'd appreciate any and all advice.

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Daniel,

Hopefully Tyler will chime in with advice on music schools. You should investigate every school you are considering. Write to their music departments, and tell them of your interests. If they need you to submit music, they will tell you what they want. I could be wrong, but I can't imagine anyone wanting paper and pencil. 

A comment on your piece, if I may.

As good as it is, I would like to hear some real harmonic depth. You reach climaxes through shear numbers and volume. Along the way, you could get even more out of the music by a strong series of chords. You use dissonances to create tension. But you need a strong harmonic progression to give the music power. 

Thanks Bob.  I appreciate the criticism.  

Daniel Congratulations on a most impressive piece. My main thought was that it was too short. There must have been a limit in length, right?

I hope you will identify the best school and faculty for your specific needs.

I think Bob's advice about carefully studying each school is right on. If you can, visit the school and sit in the classes. Talk to as many people as you can at the school, and take notes that you can review later. Write down all of your impressions. Also, considering the number of years of your youth you will be spending at school, try to pick a place you can imagine yourself living in.

If your intent (or likely desired outcome) in studying composition is to pursue an academic career specifically, there are additional factors you might consider (note I wrote "additional"-- this doesn't supplant other considerations, but should be considered in addition to them), namely, the prestige of the school and the faculty you might get to work with. This actually matters a lot when it's time to apply to grad school. You can study the statistics -- look at the best graduate programs and examine which undergraduate programs fed students into them in the last 3 years.

It's too late for Schnittke, but if there is a professor somewhere who you especially admire, it may indeed be a good idea to write to him/her (in the most professional way possible) and if possible meet in person.

Hopefully you can be a little more professional (but equally enthusiastic) as Frank Zappa was with Varèse: http://wiki.killuglyradio.com/wiki/Zappa's_letter_to_Var%C3%A8se

Very nice piece! Very impressive, I hope you will do well in the Challenge. It would be neat to hear the live version of this, and also see the score. Good job!

Yes Joseph, it is because of the time limit.  I'd like to announce that I have won!!!!  I will get a thousand dollars along with a professional live recording of the piece, in Orlando.  Thanks guys for the advice!   http://www.youngcomposerschallenge.com/

Fantastic!  Congrats to the judges.  Is this your first live recorded piece?

Daniel Zarb-Cousin said:

Yes Joseph, it is because of the time limit.  I'd like to announce that I have won!!!!  I will get a thousand dollars along with a professional live recording of the piece, in Orlando.  Thanks guys for the advice!   http://www.youngcomposerschallenge.com/

No, this is: https://soundcloud.com/alan-chen-1/daniel-zarb-cousin-piece-for-violin   That is actually the first thing I posted here.  

Joseph Harry said:

Fantastic!  Congrats to the judges.  Is this your first live recorded piece?

Daniel Zarb-Cousin said:

Yes Joseph, it is because of the time limit.  I'd like to announce that I have won!!!!  I will get a thousand dollars along with a professional live recording of the piece, in Orlando.  Thanks guys for the advice!   http://www.youngcomposerschallenge.com/

Congratulations Daniel !    This will look very good on your resume.  lol

and should be very encouraging for you.     RS

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