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Music Theory & Composition

Contest Winners

First Place Winner

Peter LieuwenConcerto Alfresco  by Peter Lieuwen (Texas A&M University)
Performed by Allen Vizzutti (trumpet) and the UT Symphony Orchestra

This composition offers improvisation, lively syncopation derived from jazz and rock music, impressionistic harmonies, and minimalist textures in a neo-classical setting.  The sonic design of the work includes frequent 7th, 9th and 13th chords interspersed with modal passages.  Tension and repose is often created through the juxtaposition of consonant pandiatonic sections with those employing the dissonant diminished scale which is based on alternating half and whole steps.

Second Place Winner

Daniel McCarthyThe Tao of Infinity by Daniel McCarthy (University of Akron)
Performed by Vince DiMartino (trumpet) and the UT Symphony Orchestra

This composition was written expressly for “The Doc Severinsen International Composition Contest.”   Therefore, during the creative process, I was mindful of the unique legacy that master trumpeter and band leader Doc Severinsen has given to music community.  A former lead-trumpet player myself, I was inspired by the fact that world-class virtuosos Vince DiMartino and Allen Vizzutti would be involved.

From 1970-1974, I studied trumpet with John R. Lindenau at The Interlochen Arts Academy, a private arts boarding school in the northwest corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula. Mr. Lindenau had a profound impact on my young life, and I have pursued a friendship with him for the past 40 years.  John is (was) a rugged individualist and an astounding trumpeter who has demonstrated an undying love for nature and the outdoors.  In the latter days of his teaching career and subsequent retirement from Interlochen, he established a business chartering his boat, “Infinity” on the waters of Lake Michigan.  So my desire to honor this man and all that he gave his students and me has been realized in the title of this work.

The other element of the title refers to my occupation with black belt martial arts.  I am currently a 3rd degree Black Belt in Chun Ma (“flying horse”) Korean-style Tae Kwon Do, studying for advancement to Tae Kwon Do “Master” (4th degree) with GrandMaster Jeon, Gyeong Ho in Fairlawn, Ohio.  The term “Tao” (The process of nature by which all things change) is often used to denote “the way of things” in martial arts; hence, “The Tao of Kung fu,” or “The Tao of Tae Kwon Do.”

The musical language of the work demonstrates an eclectic harmonic palate, melodic lyricism, and animated, “beat” oriented rhythms.  The harmonic mix includes mild dissonant counterpoint, clusters, quartal structures, and extended tertian harmonies reminiscent of “Big Band” jazz in the 60’s and 70’s. (One of my primary jazz influences as a trumpeter and composer was the “Stan Kenton Orchestra”). The melodic component (referring mainly to the trumpet solo) typically presents a more “narrative” approach (as opposed to a “phrase-period” structure) with developmental extensions likened to jazz improvisation.

The “beat” orientation of the music is often heard as static rhythmic “grooves” in the bongos and maracas/shakers.  Pizzicati cellos and basses were written as quasi walking bass lines to create the impression of a “rhythm section” within the orchestral accompaniment.  The middle section, complete with flugel horn, is ballade-oriented music with lush, extended tertian (jazz) harmonies in the strings, and consonant counterpoint between the flugel horn solo and other secondary soloists in the orchestra.

The goal in the writing of “The Tao of Infinity” was to create idiomatic, virtuosic solo music with a music language that brings together classic concert music with Big Band jazz composition reminiscent of “The Tonight Show” band led by Doc Severinsen.

I appreciate Mr. Severinsen’s directive in the contest guidelines: “The piece ‘should have a melody and should feature a balanced dialogue between the trumpet and ensemble.’”   In the contemporary concert music community, it is difficult to find new music that is attractive to performers and audiences without an occupation with extreme dissonance, athematicism, and musical anomaly.  I am grateful to have been able to submit “The Tao of Infinity” in this arena and to participate in the artistic community of ideas.

Third Place Winner

Eric KnechtgesUp All Night by Eric Knechtges (Northern Kentucky University)
Performed by Gabriel DiMartino (trumpet) and the UT Wind Ensemble

This piece is inspired by the loneliness and excitement of the times from twilight to sunrise, when most sensible people are asleep.

Honorable Mention

Scott DickinsonApparatus  by Scott Dickinson (Unniversity of Miami)






Joy Ride  by Peter Lieuwen (Texas A&M University)
Performed by Doc Severinsen, Allen Vizzutti, Vince DiMartino, Gabriel DiMartino, Cathy Leach (trumpets), Brian Lippman (bass), Wayne Smith (drumset), Peter Lieuwen (piano)

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