We would now like to introduce you to the fourth finalist in the 2020 Walter Hussey Composition Competition.
Blake R Mitchell (b.1998)
Entry title: Where Sky Meets Sea
Text from a poem by Margaret Kirby
Blake R Mitchell is a rising composer whose broad musical interests and influences make his work engaging. His variety of experience as a vocalist and composer, ranging from classical concert works to musical theatre and jazz stylings, continue to be assets in performing and creating music.
Blake recently won Samford University’s sixth annual wind ensemble composition contest. His arrangement of Be Thou My Vision for the Gracenotes vocal jazz ensemble was featured in their 2019 workshop with Chanticleer. Additionally, his piece, Day is Dying, was chosen as the winning commissioned work for the Basilica Schola Choir at the University of Notre Dame in their 2020 Liturgy Alive competition.
Blake is in his final year of studies in vocal performance and music composition at Samford University.
About the Walter Hussey Composition Competition, Blake said:
‘Upon reading about the Walter Hussey Composition Competition, I immediately appreciated the manner in which they provide opportunities to promote new work by composers in the beginning stages of their careers. This, paired with the chance to have a piece performed by the caliber of musicians who comprise the Reading Phoenix Choir, motivated me to submit my work. In my initial consideration of writing for this competition, I reached out to Margaret Kirby, a great friend and gifted writer, who provided her original and beautifully meaningful text for Where Sky Meets Sea. We hope this piece encourages others to “hear the call…from the pleading of [our] dreams recalled, to reimagine our destiny.’
What our judges said about Blake’s entry:
- Many enjoyable moments
- Harmonically strong
- Well worked
- Lots of great vocal writing
- A good sense of writing for voice
- Effective, appropriate text
- Nice harmonies throughout
- Gives a sense of rising excitement
- I really loved the text used in this piece and it presented a different (and clever) perspective on the theme of ‘New Horizons’. From the moment the text enters we are transported into a world of luscious harmonies accompanying a beautiful melody. It builds to a glorious climax but ends, appropriately for the text, calmly and reflectively to bring us back to where we started. It is written extremely well for voices and would be very satisfying to sing, no matter what voice part you are.
Next time: Alex Wallace