THE LUKE RACKERS AWARD FOR BEST COMPOSITION (ANY STYLE) WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY THE CONTESTANT
For this prize category, judges will be evaluating the quality of both the performance and the composition itself.Original compositions may be in any style for piano solo, two pianos (including concerto movement with orchestra part as second piano reduction), or three pianos. If possible, please write out neatly or print by computer. If composition is somewhat improvisatory, the piece may be written out in some form of shorthand representation and/or innovative notation (e.g., "fake chart," some kind of structural diagram, etc.). It would be ideal to make one copy for each judge. It's all right if original compositions have already been played in other competitions. However, we do not allow contestants to play repertory that they have played in previous years, unless the piece is a very different version, and/or the performance is significantly altered in some way. If in doubt, contact Dr. Houle.
For fledgling composers and improvisers, we recommend the Pattern Play Series.
For more advanced students with a classical background, we recommend: Improvisation at the Piano by Brian Chung and Dennis Thurmond
Houle technique resources:
For help with understanding theory and musical forms:
This book is a must-read for all who wish to get in touch with our real traditions:
"After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance" by Kenneth Hamilton
Reviewer Susan Tomes writes: "Throughout the 'golden age' of Romantic piano-playing, it was not usual to perform whole sonatas as these were thought too severe. Improvisation was popular, as was the habit of 'preluding', or making up musical links between items. Players might give themselves breaks while they chatted with friends in the audience. Most pianists were also composers, and routinely included their own pieces. Playing from memory was not required, and sometimes even frowned on."
In his book, Hamilton points out that "anxiety over wrong notes is a relatively recent psychosis, and playing entirely from memory a relatively recent requirement."
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