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Twin Cities Bronze announces the winner of their

20th Anniversary Composition Contest

 

Twin Cities Bronze is pleased to annouce the winner of our 20th Anniversary Composition Contest!  The Blind Trust selected Jason Krug's original composition Distant Turnings. The Blind Trust also selected The Elements composed by Andrew Hess to receive Honorable Mention.                           

Congratulations Jason and Andrew!

When I’m writing an original piece of music, I have three different ways I approach it.  If I have a title or scene in mind, I let that imagery guide the music.  I’ll sometimes play around with notes, chords, or rhythms until I find a “hook,” something that intrigues me, and I’ll follow that hook further into the piece.  The third method I use – the one I used in Distant Turnings – is to set myself some unique or arbitrary condition, and allow that to guide the music.

In Western music – from Bach and Handel up through Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Copland, and beyond – there are certain chord progressions we tend to follow.  In the key of C, I’ll move my way toward the G chord by following a set of accepted, “legal” chord changes.  It’s a tried-and-true method of harmonizing pieces, one that most music – even what you listen to on rock or country radio – follows, because it works.

In trying to come up with an idea for this piece, I came across a music theory video on YouTube discussing what the author called “God Chords” – chords that sound big and majestic, mainly because they violate those traditional harmonic expectations.  One might, for example, start on a C major chord, then move to an E-flat-major chord before proceeding to a G-flat-major chord.  This progression would be found nowhere in the works of Bach or Beethoven, yet there’s a certain power to such a progression, a certain majesty that comes from the chords “insisting” their way into being.

So, I decided to use as many of these chord progressions as I could in constructing the piece.  The opening – which serves to set the mood – is fairly straightforward and traditional, but when the theme comes in with the bass, the progressions start to deviate from the norm: E major moves to G major, back to E major, and then to G-sharp major.  The harmonic structure becomes more and more convoluted and unpredictable, giving the listener no choice but to trust in the ensemble to lead them along on a journey the likes of which they genuinely can’t imagine.

Once I had the piece finished, I was then faced with the part of the process I dread the most – naming it.  As I listened to the finished work, I felt it had an ethereal quality, like what one would experience in the far reaches of space, or in some other heavenly realm.  Some of the more divergent chord progressions also felt to me like some great kaleidoscope – an image seen with the device held in one orientation morphs in an unexpected-yet-totally-believable way into a different image as it is turned.  Thus, I combined the two ideas to come up with the title Distant Turnings.

Jason W. Krug (b. 1978) is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana.  He holds a degree in music from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Jason is a full-time freelance composer, arranger, clinician, and teacher.  Since his first publication in 2006, he's had over 200 compositions and arrangements accepted for handbells, piano, strings, choir, and organ.  His works have been featured at numerous festivals and workshops in the United States and beyond. 

In his spare time, Jason enjoys writing fiction, and has spent several years working on a young adult fantasy series, The Sadonian Chronicles.  He also frequently participates in the National Novel Writing Month event in November.


“The Elements” began as a piece that I wrote for eleven percussionists (originally by a different title) for a composition class in my sophomore year of college. A few years later I had the idea to write a piece based on the four elements (fire, water, earth, and air), and around the same time I decided to arrange the percussion ensemble piece for handbell choir. I realized that there were already several distinct sections that pretty well fit the theme, so in addition to arranging it for handbell choir, I retitled it and made some major structural changes, the largest of which being adding an entirely new “Air” section that develops some musical ideas from the “Water” section. When arranging a percussion ensemble piece for handbell choir, it was particularly fun using a variety of handbell techniques to imitate multiple percussion instruments such as xylophone, marimba, glockenspiel, and timpani.

 

Andrew Hess has been composing and arranging music since he was in high school. Before moving to Minnesota, he lived for ten years in Ann Arbor, Michigan and graduated from St. Olaf College, where he majored in mathematics and played in the St. Olaf Band and the St. Olaf Handbell Choir. This is his fourth year playing with Twin Cities Bronze. He currently teaches math at the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists.