composer

Flickr: Nicolas Henderson/texasbackroads

As far back as the 1880s, there have been reports of mysterious glowing orbs dancing just above the horizon in far west Texas, just outside the town of Marfa. Explanations of the phenomena have ranged from campfires, to ball lightning, to automobile headlights. Regardless of their origin, the Marfa lights have inspired countless travelers, artists and writers, and now you can add a classical composer to that list.

Nathan Cone / TPR

A time limit. A saxophone quartet. And a blank sheet of paper. Three young composers recently took advantage of the opportunity to present their creations at the annual Jack Stone Award for New Music Concert, sponsored by the Alamo Colleges District - Northwest Vista College. The diverse sounds were brought to life by the Austin-based Bel Cuore Quartet, who reveled in the opportunity to debut new music to an appreciative audience on Tuesday, March 28.

As a composer, I entered a profession in which I knew I could actively alter our fractious present using the incomparable tools of art. After all, the intellectually curious and essentially progressive landscapes of our concert halls and opera houses seem like the perfect arenas in which to harness momentum for change and, through the aspirational craft of music, feel the resurrection of hope in the midst of despair and apathy.

In 2010, Beth May was teaching music at Alamo Colleges' Northwest Vista College and had some gifted students taking music theory. She wanted to encourage their budding interest in composition, but found that most all of the nationwide composer competitions were open to students of all skill levels, which could potentially pit community college students against a Ph.D. candidate. It wasn’t exactly a level playing field.

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