Jake Gunnar Walsh and Katherine Bodor have been named the first- and second-prize winners, respectively, of the 2018 NOTUS Student Composition Contest at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Both are graduate students working toward master’s degrees in composition.
Walsh is a composer, performer and educator originally from Rhode Island. He is currently pursuing a double master’s degree in oboe performance and music composition, studying oboe with Linda Strommen and Roger Roe, and composition with Claude Baker. Walsh graduated from Ithaca College in 2015, where he earned two degrees in oboe and composition.
His first-prize work is “I See Words in Color” for mixed chorus a cappella. “The text is taken from the poem ‘Synesthesia,’ written by one of my dearest friends, Kristin Vegh,” said Walsh. “I see Kristin’s poem as an intimate glimpse into her own experience with synesthesia, seeing the hues inherent in certain letters, and entire spectrums of colors hidden within words. It was my wish to take this sensory synthesis a step further with my piece and supply the musical soundscape for what it would be like to not only see the color of words, but hear those colors brought to life in a fully synesthetic experience of poetry, color and music.”
Currently pursuing an M.M. in Composition with Don Freund, Bodor graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2016 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Science, with a second major in music composition. Her love of contemporary a cappella led her to her current work as an arranger and producer with The Vocal Company, a recording studio where some of the most prominent collegiate and high school a cappella groups create exciting, award-winning music.
Bodor’s second-prize work is “Two Songs of Solitude” for mixed chorus a cappella. “There is a sense of philosophical peace that can only be gained when you learn to really live with yourself and your shortcomings,” she explained. “I believe we all struggle in some way—whether we admit it to ourselves or not—with that simple push and pull: the need for social acceptance and human interaction versus the desire to utterly retreat into one’s self. While it may take a lifetime to find some sort of balance, I believe ‘Two Songs of Solitude’ offers, with beautiful clarity of language, a glimpse into how that balance might be manifested.”
NOTUS will perform the world premiere of both works at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, in Auer Hall as part of the concert program “Different Ways to Pray.” The concert will also feature music of Karin Rehnqvist, Byron Smith, Nilo Alcala, former IU student Nicolas Chuaqui and NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble director Dominick DiOrio, associate professor of music (choral conducting).
The composition contest judges also awarded two honorable mentions—for John William Griffith’s “Gloria” and Jamie Kunselman’s “Requiem for a Light.”
Judges for the competition included Chris Albanese, assistant professor of music (choral conducting) and director of the Singing Hoosiers; Allan Armstrong, post-doctoral scholar and visiting assistant professor of music (chamber and collaborative music); and Larry Groupé, visiting professor of music (composition: music scoring for visual media).
The contest is an initiative of DiOrio, who did not take part in the judging panel. The submission of scores was anonymous, and the judges did not see names or identifying information until after final decisions were made. The annual competition is open to all current undergraduate and graduate students at the Jacobs School of Music.
Jake Gunnar Walsh (b. 1993) is a composer, performer and educator from Chepachet, Rhode Island. He is currently pursuing a double master’s degree in oboe performance and music composition at Indiana University, studying oboe with Linda Strommen and Roger Roe, and composition with Claude Baker. Walsh graduated from Ithaca College in 2015 with a double B.M. degree in Oboe Performance and Music Composition, studying oboe with Paige Morgan, and composition with Dana Wilson and Jorge Villavicencio Grossmann. While at Ithaca College, Walsh received the Joseph Downey Composition Prize in 2014 for his art song Root Cellar composed for baritone and piano. In addition, he was a winner of the Smadbeck Composition prize in 2015 for his Chamber Wind Ensemble work Hive. Walsh has participated in masterclasses and lessons with such distinguished composers such as Melinda Wagner, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Tansy Davies, Michael Gandolfi, Augusta Read Thomas, and Eric Ewazen. Recently, Walsh has had his music performed on such diverse stages as the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival Emerging Composers concert in New York, NY; the Nebraska Chamber Players’ Concerts on the Creek in Lincoln, NE; Sun Sneeze! New Music Festival in Dallas, TX; RE: New Music at the Slate Arts and Performance in Chicago, IL; and the 2017 Texas Music Educators National Association Conference in San Antonio, TX. In addition to his work as a composer, Walsh is passionate about premiering and commissioning new works for the oboe and English horn, and specializes in the performance of contemporary music.
Katherine Bodor (b. 1994) graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2016 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Applied Science and a second major in Music Composition, studying under Christopher Stark and Martin Kennedy. She has premiered new music with ensembles including the Third Wheel Trio, the Six Degree Singers, and the Washington University Chamber Choir. Currently pursuing an M.M. in Composition under Don Freund at the Jacobs School of Music, Bodor hopes to pursue music that viscerally impacts the listener while exploring what it means to be human. She is looking forward to premieres in 2018 with Chamber Project St. Louis, the Indiana University Symphonic Band and MacPhail Music Center.
Prior to undergrad, Bodor was classically trained in piano at MacPhail; during undergrad, she arranged for and directed a student-run a cappella group and fell in love with vocal expression. Her love of contemporary a cappella led her to her current work as an arranger and producer with The Vocal Company, a recording studio where some of the most prominent collegiate and high school a cappella groups create exciting, award-winning music.