The Lincoln Music Teachers’ Association (LMTA) sponsors a composition concert open to various ages and levels from early elementary up through adult student entries and teacher entries. This year, the adjudicator for the contest was Kurt Knecht, and you can hear the winning pieces that he selected performed on a concert this weekend on Sunday, April 7 at 5pm. The performance will take place at Grace Lutheran Church (22nd and Washington Streets). This recital is free and open to the public.
Knecht, who has been featured on previous articles, spoke with Examiner.com again regarding this composition contest. As far as the works he saw entered in this contest, Knecht said that “they were mostly piano compositions” that featured a wide range of harmonic vocabularies. Everything from tonal to atonal, pentatonic, whole tone...really the whole range. And they were generally of high quality. It was fairly easy to pick the winner in each category, but picking 2nd, 3rd, and honorable mention was tricky.”
In selecting the winners, Knecht would look for a few things. He shared some of the questions that he had going through his mind during the process:
“1. Is there a clear formal structure?
2. Does the music have some sort of emotional direction and flow?
3. Is there enough variation to prevent monotony, and is there enough similarity to create unity?
4. Is the texture appropriate for the musical idea being conveyed?
5. Is the score clean and clearly marked?”
Of course, the performance on Sunday will give everyone a chance to hear the pieces that best exhibited these qualities, and the audience will also have a chance to hear Knecht perform one of his own compositions: “I'm going to be performing my Nocturne in memoriam Robert Helps.” Knecht has come a long way since his first attempts at composing: “my development was fairly typical. I wrote a few things that aren’t worth mentioning when I was young. Then, by middle school, I started improvising on my piano pieces.” By high school, Knecht had committed to writing fairly serious music and has spent the years since studying music and writing some wonderful pieces.
His advice for students who are trying their hand at composing is that “everyone should write because everyone has something to say.” But, “That doesn't mean that everyone is going to become a successful composer. It does mean that you will create something that is very unique, and putting that something into the world is a great and courageous act. It may be that lots of other people want to hear the way that you organize sound. Even if they don't, you will certainly gain insight into yourself and the compositions of the great masters. If you really enjoy it, you should get lessons with someone.”
Hear Knecht and some of Lincoln’s beginning composers on Sunday!