Roma, Roma Ma

Q2 Digs the Rome Prize

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Monday, August 01, 2011

Rome (italianjob17/flickr)

Competitions can be infuriating. For every winner there are scores of gracious losers, angry would-have-beens and conspiracy theorists. While no award is free from this aura of bad blood and missed opportunity, the Pulitzer Prize, a recent subject of programming at both the Caramoor Festival and our very own The New Canon, ranks among the most oft-discussed and debated. For this week's shows, I was trying to think of a sort of anti-Pulitzer, and honestly came up empty-handed. Competitions is competitions; tricks is tricks; it’s all a bit, well, competitive!

That said, the Rome Prize is pretty swell, as these things go. They aim to give their fellowships to “emerging artists and scholars in the early or middle stages of their careers who represent the highest standard of excellence.” This commitment to the not-yet-established has ensured that the artists and scholars who emerge from this process are doing real foundation work on their portfolios during the time of their fellowship. The award-self takes the form of an eleven-month sort of artist colony experience at the American Academy in Rome. Winners are given studio and living space in a communal environment with gardens and views and a canteen specializing in locally-sourced, sustainable food. Not too shabby.

There have been some pretty fab composers who’ve been fellows at the American Academy, and this week’s got a ton of ‘em, from 1931’s Roger Sessions to 2011’s Sean Friar. Listen in! There’s some great music this week. What are your feelings regarding competitions? Are they a good motivator? An exciting event? A morale-busting torture device?

Hosted by:

Nadia Sirota
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Comments [4]

Brad from New York

Leo Needs a New Pair of Shoes, the internet tells me (is that cheating?) is from Twin Peaks. Of course!

Aug. 05 2011 12:22 AM
brooklyn composer from Brooklyn NY

If the contest is judged by the music alone, preferaby with the composer's name removed from the score (life the BMI prizes) then the competition can be a way to recognize promising pieces, and by extension, composers. Many competitions are overly political, and judges trade favors. Having won a few, I recognize that they result in some important recognition. But a musician is an artist, and competition amongst artists seems suspect, if the artist is acknowledged as such by peers and audiences.

Aug. 04 2011 01:29 PM
Paul Epstein from Lower Manhattan

I agree the Rome prize is positive. Got to visit a winner (too many) years ago at the Academy and yeah, they treat the fellows well. Hope you'll play some of his music this week--Larry Bell, I think the 1986 winner.

(As an aside, I made a side trip from a VT vacation to Mass MOCA last week, and what fun to find Bang On A Can in residence amidst the contemporary art & great gallery spaces, with improvised & composed pieces of all sorts.)

Aug. 04 2011 01:00 AM
mark from ireland

As long as pieces aren't specifically written for 'competition' and the competitions themselves aren't age or gender specific they're ok -though, like everything else I suppose, time is the real test. On which point it's interesting that so much of this 'new' music is so rooted in the past. Perhaps too much so. Of course, I'm playing catch up on the series so maybe this changes!

Mark, Ireland

Aug. 03 2011 06:44 PM

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