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Winning Compositions

Erin Tomkins receives an honorable mention and Michael Gilbertson wins first prize.

The Buffalo Chamber Players showcase prize winners of their first international composition competition

On Thursday, May 31 at 7:30pm, the Buffalo Chamber Players wrap up their season in their home at the Buffalo Seminary with a concert featuring the winning works of the inaugural BCP International Composition Competition, which drew more than 40 submissions from eight countries, including Canada, France, Japan, and South Korea. The winning composers, Michael Gilbertson and Erin Tomkins, have each been awarded a live performance of their music by the BCP, as well as travel expenses and accommodations, allowing them to attend the world premiere of their compositions.

“We are pleased that the Chamber Players composition competition supports Buffalo’s image as a cultural beacon, drawing international arts attention to our community, as that is part of our mission,” says Janz Castelo, artistic director of the BCP.

“The caliber of the submissions speaks highly to what the BCP are accomplishing here—because of the great critical notice the Buffalo Chamber Players have been receiving, the quality of applicants was bolstered,” says Rob Deemer, professor of composition at the Fredonia School of Music and BCP composer-in-residence, who served as a competition judge.

Gilbertson’s Music to an Imaginary Ballet, for oboe, clarinet, violin, viola and cello, received the top prize. A native of Dubuque, Iowa, Gilbertson studied composition with Samuel Adler, John Corigliano, and Christopher Rouse at the Juilliard School. His music earned ASCAP Morton Gould Awards in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2012, and has been performed by the Juilliard Orchestra, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Cedar Rapids Symphony, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. His music is heard in the 2006 Academy Award-nominated documentary Rehearsing a Dream. Gilbertson is a master’s degree student at the Yale School of Music, where he has studied with Ezra Laderman and Christopher Theofanidis.

Tomkins’s Images of Water, for flute, oboe and clarinet, received honorable mention from the judges. Tomkins graduated from the University of Kansas School of Music with degrees in piano performance and composition, studying piano with Richard Reber and composition with Forrest Pierce. In 2010 she composed the score and designed the sound for the Multicultural Theatre Initiative’s production of The Pillowman. Tomkins also designed the sound for the University of Kansas Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed in original pronunciation, for which she received a special commendation from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Also on the program is Reinhold Gliére’s Suite for Viola and Bass, which is based on selections from the composer’s 1909 work Eight Pieces for Violin and Cello, Op. 39. Gliére is best known to Western audiences for large-scale symphonic works such as the Red Poppy ballet, which ends with the very popular “Russian Sailor’s Dance”—a selection that has taken on a life of its own—as well as his gigantic Symphony No. 3, “Ilya Muromets.” These five charming miniatures, including a gavotte, a cradle song and a playful scherzo, introduce the listener to a surprisingly different aspect of his art.

Edgar Meyer is currently the highest-profile string double-bass player in America, and anyone who was in the audience back in 2008, when he did double-duty under the baton of BPO guest conductor Zuohuang Chen, performing as soloist in both his own Doublebass Concerto No. 1 in D Major and in Bottesini’s Doublebass Concerto No. 2 in B Minor, would be only too happy to agree with that designation. Members of the Buffalo Chamber Players will perform the first movement of Meyer’s Concert Duo for Violin and Bass on their concert.

Beethoven considered his String Trio in C, Op. 9, No. 3 to be his finest work in the genre. When he composed the three trios, Beethoven may have still been somewhat hesitant to enter the realm of the symphony and may have viewed the works as a means to test his still-evolving ideas about development, structure, and other elements associated with the sonata-allegro form. Beethoven had the set published in Vienna in 1798, dedicating them to one of his patrons, Count Johann Georg von Browne, an officer in the Russian Army.

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