OnTime 2017 Water – Community Comments


Hello everyone!  Here’s a chance for you to comment on some of the pieces in the “Water” contest.  The Judges will begin reviewing the qualifying pieces this week, but there were so many entries it might take them a while.  In the meantime, let any of the composers know what you like about their pieces by leaving a comment on this blog.  You can also give us feedback on the competition format, and anything you especially liked (or didn’t like) about this competition.  We welcome all constructive comments!

You can listen to a specific piece in OnTime 2017 Water with these steps:

  • Scroll down to “Newest Audio” and click on “All”
  • Type in the first few letters of the name of the piece in the “Search” box in the upper right hand corner

Remember that this site is Family Friendly.  Any comments that are off-topic, off-color or inappropriate in any way will immediately be deleted.

31 thoughts on “OnTime 2017 Water – Community Comments”

  1. I have so many favorites in this competition, that I’ll be commenting multiple times. I especially like “Eroded”, a short but sweet piece for woodwind quartet. The title first caught my eye. Intrigued, I listened and was rewarded by a well-written little jewel. The fluid harmonies, the sweet-tart oboe, and the perfectly crafted voice leading make this a great piece to share with my students. Many thanks to the composer!

  2. I have only listened to a handful of entries so far, picked randomly. I was really impressed with “Storm in the Baltic Sea” by Luiza Iva Straume. It is both musically beautiful and truly suggestive of a wave storm. In the part where there is a distinctive melodic motif I felt really in love with the piece. It is a simple motif, in a way, but just the right one, very powerful and reaching.

    1. I totally agree, Mariza. “Storm in the Baltic Sea” is a powerful, captivating piece. The composer has done a wonderful job of depicting a storm at sea. I especially like her extended pedal and use of piano overtones toward the end. We can almost feel the crashing waves!

  3. I’ve listened to “Fudo Falls” at least a dozen or more times, and at each new listening I like it even more. I was initially drawn to the picture. That brilliant blue column centered among the misty trees is a waterfall, but one with no motion. What a wonderful depiction of stillness and elegance, activity and movement. How could a composer write stillness while maintaining the motion necessary to carry a piece forward?

    Our composer did just that, and did it beautifully. His carefully designed, slowly changing piano line creates a kind of “moving stasis” against the graceful rising of the cello. As clarinet and then flute add color and motion to the sound painting, the elegant picture comes to life, but never loses its underlying tranquility. A masterful piece of writing, indeed.

    If you haven’t yet heard “Fudo Falls”, I urge you to take some time with the picture first, then let the music deepen it.

  4. “Water Colors” is a big hit with my composition studio! I’ve shared it with several of my students, especially the ones who are writing for woodwind ensembles, and the same things usually happen:

    * Laughter at the end “Drip”
    * Smiles as “Ripple” finishes
    * Exclamations of “cool” or “wow” after “Summer Rains”
    * Requests to look more closely at the score

    This is a great piece – fun, creative, and appealing, and just the right length! I have a great fondness for miniatures, and “Water Colors” has now been added to my list of favorite tiny gems. Three movements in less than 4 minutes – each one perfect as a stand-alone piece as well – is bound to appeal to audiences, performers, and composition students of all ages.

    We’ll continue studying this piece in my studio, and learning from this highly skilled composer. My next goal is to have a read-through with my woodwind performing group – and possibly a live performance in the fall!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this piece with your students! I am honored to learn that my work has been studied and has provided a means for expanding the minds of developing composers 🙂
      Please let me know if you are scheduling a performance, I have never had a piece premiered before!

      1. I’m very much looking forward to rehearsing “Water Colors” this summer and including it in a future concert. I need to talk with you about the score, parts, page turns, and other practical matters. That would be best done in private email, I think. Maybe you could add contact information to your MusicWiz profile and we’ll start a private conversation planning this premiere!

  5. There’s so many excellent pieces here, and lots of variety. Well done everyone 🙂

    My favourites so far:
    – Water from Elements – I never knew a saxophone quartet could make such a gentle sound. This is beautiful writing, and a beautiful performance.
    – Water Dance for piano – Bright and bubbly, lots of fun.
    – Puddle Jumper’s Lullaby – This one’s charming. It’s got a pleasant and gentle melody, never over-bearing, just like how a child would experience playing in puddles.

  6. Puddle Jumper’s Lullaby is a gentle, expressive piece that, using chorale-like cadences, captures both the innocence of youth and the tranquility of a rainy day. I enjoy the repetitions of specific themes as well as the rubato nature that permeates the work. Well done.

    1. I can totally relate to “Puddle Jumper’s Lullaby”, a name which immediately caught my eye. I’m a mom of (now grown up) puddle jumpers, and a composer who wrote a set of pieces twenty years ago called Suite Water, with the third movement entitled “Puddle Jumping”.

      And, of course, I was once a Puddle Jumper myself. Sleep well, little one and tomorrow you’ll make more splashes! Many thanks to the composer for this lovely lullaby!

    2. Why, thank you very much, David and Harmonia! I feel very touched by your comments, and also humbled.
      The middle section (the one which is very rubato and played softly) reflects the parents’ feelings watching the child, then trying to get the child to rest and go to sleep. The feelings are a complex form of love, almost adoration for the child, with the characteristic pain that accompanies the love – which perhaps comes from worry and from awareness of the contrast between the child’s innocence and what we know the world to be. The child’s jumping is represented by the dyads (2-note chords), like two feet landing together on the puddle.

  7. “Water” from “Elements” is lovely. Like Keith said, I didn’t know a group of saxophones could sound so sweet! I would so love to hear the other movements representing the other three elements. The gentle motion of the quartet and the way the composer moves effortlessly between tonalities really is suggestive of ripples of water. Another great piece!

  8. Writing complex rhythms and writing for percussion instruments are two aspects of composition that are sometimes a challenge for student composers, so I was delighted to see/hear “What Lies Beneath Rings; WATER” as an example I can share with my students. From the almost imperceptible beginning through the extended buildup to the exciting climax, this piece totally held my attention. Hats off to the composer for tackling a genre of music not often explored and mastering it.

    If you haven’t listened to this piece, I would suggest setting aside a few minutes, finding a quiet spot, turning up your speaker a bit and listening for every nuance of sound, timbre and rhythm. Percussion instruments are endlessly intriguing!

  9. In the “Updated Contest Page with Short List” my screen shows only 6 (six) pieces in the short list. I believe there should be 8 there, not 6. Is this a display issue with my screen, or is that page not programmed correctly? Maybe there just needs to be a button saying “ALL” that we would press to see all 8 pieces.

    1. You are right, Mariza – there are 8 pieces in the short list. Two of them are not showing up because the composers did not put a picture on their audio, and the program only displays items with a picture. Our staff has written to the composers asking them to add a picture, so hopefully the other two pieces will show up soon. We won’t start public voting until all pieces appear correctly in the list. We want the process to be fair to everyone.

  10. One of the judges (or was it Harmonia?) commented as follows: “Judging these pieces was a daunting challenge. Having to eliminate most was difficult as there were no real “losers.” In my opinion, many of the finely composed works submitted would possibly be in today’s standard repertoire had they been written in 1817 instead of 2017.

    I certainly felt that my piece could’ve been written in 1817. But I write what comes naturally and which reflects my sensibility. I see many amateur and professional composers, who post their music online, composing with great gusto high quality music that might have been composed in 1617 or even before that. They’re just being themselves. To me, a piece composed today that reflects with sincerity the musical sensibility of the composer is, by definition, contemporary music. I also feel that 1817 or 1617 was just yesterday and is still here. It is still one part of the present, really. It is living and therefore is relevant today.

    I understand the judge’s comment. It expresses the need for music that expresses what is unique about life today, as opposed to inherited from yesterday. I understand it and don’t resent it at all. I only wanted to comment that, to a composer, sincerity and self expression brings out a whole suite of inner realities not all of which were born today.

  11. Hello Mariza –

    We’d like to clarify the Judge’s comments you quoted. We’ve talked to him at great length, and know how deeply impressed he was with the quality of music. He even told us that he is now using several of the competition pieces in his own teaching and studying. He didn’t mean that the music sounded 200 years old. Instead, he meant that if there had been sufficient time for the music to enter the public consciousness, many of the contest pieces would now be standard repertoire – they are that well-written and appealing.

    Far from thinking that any of the newly composed music is “outdated”, all of our Judges indicated the relevance of the competition pieces to today’s audiences. Our Judges and our Staff all agree with you completely, and are sorry that there was a bit of misunderstanding about the published comment.

  12. “In my opinion, many of the finely composed works submitted would possibly be in today’s standard repertoire had they been written in 1817 instead of 2017.”

    I must admit i found this statement, basically, lacking depth; and appreciate the clarification.
    Thank you.

    1. Yes, a day makes a difference, but a Facebook page or an email invitation to vote makes an even greater difference! Several of our composers have posted contest information on Facebook and are reaching an extremely wide audience. We have also sent out invitations to vote to music families, teachers and their studios, and the home-schooling community. We’ve sent over 3,000 invitations to date.

      As a Music Education site, we support and encourage these methods of sharing classical music with as many people as possible. We’re happy to report that many families are listening to the music with their young children, and talking about composers and classical music. Each member of the family gets a vote and learns about discernment and choice.

      In order to give each contest piece the best possible exposure and to also narrow down the voting list to the “cream of the crop”, we’ve combined many methods of selecting winners:

      1) Qualification for those who followed all the rules
      2) Short list selection by highly trained, professionally qualified judges
      3) Public voting for the short list, which allows thousands of people to share the music and encourages good listening habits with our young students.

      We appreciate your feedback!

  13. I’ve enjoyed listening to the pieces and having a good look through the scores. I’ve been particularly impressed and inspired by the interesting range of ingenious musical ideas across the submitted pieces.

    A technical question though – I went to read what people were saying about the shortlist but I can’t see any public comments on the public voting page, even though the counter says there are currently 38 responses.

    Are the comments visible somewhere? Maybe they are being moderated first, or will be made visible at a later date?


  14. Thanks for the great question, Steve. The voting software allows us to show a real-time vote count, but it doesn’t allow a look at the responses until after the public voting is closed. We will publish all comments at the end of the contest, along with the list of Public Voting winners and Staff Pick winner.

  15. Hello, all the pieces are wonderful in this competition.

    I would appreciate some feedback on my piece, it didn’t make it into the shortlist, unsurprisingly, it’s called “Majesty of the Ocean”. I am not a formally trained composer, nor am I very good in my own opinion, but I like to keep trying until I get better, and having the opportunity to see and hear experience much greater than my own is something I value very much.

    Please let me know what you think of the piece, the more feedback the more I can improve.

    Thanks so much,

  16. Looking at the vote counter there are 435 votes at the moment. Given everyone is only meant to vote once and only for one piece shouldn’t each shortlisted piece have at least 435 streams if each voter has listened to the entire shortlist? However every piece has far fewer streams than this (roughly a quarter), so it looks like the majority of people are voting without listening to all the pieces which is a shame.

  17. Hi Steve-

    Many of us teachers are using the short list pieces as learning opportunities in our studios, and I also know many parents and home schooling groups that are doing the same. There won’t be a one-to-one correspondence between the number of people who actually listened to a piece and the playback count for several reasons.

    Let me tell you what happened today, as an example.

    I have a family who comes for group composition lessons, and I asked them all to listen and evaluate the short list pieces and each pick their favorite. They listened together to all eight pieces – three boys aged 6, 8, and 10 and their mom and dad. They wrote down their comments, made up their own evaluation methods and then we discussed their feedback. After the excited discussions and comparisons died down, I entered their votes and their comments. Their mom and dad also voted. Instead of the 40 counts that would represent 5 people listening to 8 pieces, there were only 8 counts, since they listened together.

    We even listened to the kids’ favorites again several times, but those listens didn’t show up in the count because I had listened with other students earlier in the day. The count only tallies one listen during a 24 hour period.

    Extrapolate this one afternoon over a longer period of time and a multitude of families and teaching studios, and you’ll see how the counts and votes will never agree.

    Some people who are voting from a Facebook page description of a piece may indeed not listen to it. But to me the most important thing is that the young students ARE listening, with bated breath! I wish you could see how excited the kids are about the pieces, how they even remember the composer’s names and want to see every aspect of the score. “How did he make that sound like a balloon deflating?” asked the 8 year old. “Let’s look at the score and see!” I said. Now we all know something new – that high glissando violins can sound like screeching balloons “with the air roaring out” as the 6 year old exclaimed amid laughter.

  18. I can see that there’s huge value in the listening when people are asked to vote, and your story, Harmonia is wonderful. My son also really got into it at the time of an earlier contest last year (he was in elementary school). That’s one of the biggest values of a contest, I think, in that it sharpens interest and attention to detail. So it’s great!

    The other side of the coin is that I noticed that, in one particular day, dozens of votes were cast and nearly all of them went to the same composition. The chances of that being the product of a fair voting process are pretty much nil. I suspect that was a day when a facebook post or email was sent out to friends, and the said friends thought in terms of supporting their friend.

    It doesn’t matter much to me personally, because I see the benefits of this contest and voting process, as you mentioned in your story. I’m sure you’ve tried to think of ways to make it more fair, you’ve probably done what you could. And there will be a staff pick, I understand. Personally, I consider all 8 pieces to be winners, and I’ll be interested in the staff pick as well.

  19. Dear MusicWiz.club,

    Thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity and experience to be part of this competition! Special thanks to David Berlin, Frank Sartain, Sean Mitchell for your choice to select my “Water Mood” piece in the short list. Your opinion is very important for me. Many thanks to my listeners and to everyone who supported me with their votes and comments! It is an honor for composer to be heard and liked by listeners. Congratulations to all composers! I have listened every piece – all of them are amazing. We are all winners!

    Nadin Polyakova de Zuniga

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