The 2011 Iron Composer instrumentation was an organ. Specifically, a 1914 Austin organ with 4 61-note manuals, 74 ranks, and 32 pedals. The instrument is the main organ in Gamble Auditorium on the campus of Baldwin-Wallace College, and it was performed by Jonathan Moyer.
The secret musical ingredient were a pair of antique music boxes built by the Regina Music Box company in the late 1800’s. The composers were given a choice of 11 discs with different tunes, and they had to incorporate at least one disc into their composition. The discs contained the following tunes:
“If I But Knew”
“Two Sweethearts Song”
“Cavalleria Rusticana Intermezzo”
“Priscilla Colonial Intermezzo”
“Miller in the Black Forest”
“Selection from Lucia de Lammermoor”
“Nearer My God to Thee”
“You’re As Welcome as the Flower in May”
“The Charlatan March”
“Abide With Me”
Melody Eötvös is an Australian composer earning her doctorate at Indiana University. Much of her music is electroacoustic, and her work has been performed by the London Sinfonietta and the BBC Singers. She earned her masters degree from the Royal Academy of Music.
David Kirkland Garner is the director of the Duke New Music Ensemble, where he is also a Ph.D. candidate. His research interests include the banjo and fiddle traditions of Nova Scotia and the southern U.S. The Kronos Quartet gave the world premiere of his most recent work earlier this year.
Zvonimir Nagy is a Croatian composer based in Chicago. He is a prolific keyboard performer and an active organ improviser. In the spring, Nagy was appointed to a professorship at Duquesne University.
Matthew Heap is an internationally performed composer who focuses on vocal music to a large degree. He is also very involved in the theatre community as an actor, director, and writer. Matthew received his BFA from Carnegie Mellon University, MMus from the Royal College of Music in London, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. He has studied with Leonardo Balada, Eric Moe, Nancy Galbraith, Mathew Rosenblum, and Timothy Salter. Matthew is also a member of Alia Musica Pittsburgh, an ensemble dedicated to the performance of new concert music from Pittsburgh composers.
Mari Takano is a Japanese composer living in Tokyo and lecturing at Toho Junior College of Music. Having studied with Morton Feldman and Brian Ferneyhough, one of her primary mentors was Gyorgy Ligeti. Her music has been released commercially by BIS.
Before each piece is performed, the composer is asked to speak about how they handled the challenge they were assigned.
Zvonimir Nagy’s introduction
Melody Eötvös introduction
David Kirkland Garner’s introduction
Matthew Heap’s introduction
Mari Takano’s indtroduction
Jonathan Moyer, organ
Rudolf Kamper, music boxes
Zvonimir Nagy, Vox Reginae Organalis (First Prize)
Melody Eötvös, Austin vs. Regina (Second Prize)
David Kirkland Garner, Nearer Thy God to Me (Third Prize)
Matthew Heap, Interior Resonances
Mari Takano, We Will Meet Again
After each piece is performed, the three judges are asked to share some brief comments. The composer judge was Jonathan Quick. The non-musician judge was Gina Cirino from the Cleveland Council on World Affairs, and Jonathan Moyer was the performer judge.
On Zvonimir Nagy’s entry:
On Melody Eötvös’ entry:
On David Kirkland Garner’s entry:
On Matthew Heap’s entry:
On Mari Takano’s entry: