August 23, 2013

Two Informal Anecdotes About Patronizing Composition Contests

I won a composition contest a few years ago, and a group played my piece, really well, live. The prize was a studio recording. Three months later, no recording, but they tell me they'll be in the area - which means, for them, 500 miles away. (Europe is so weird in this way - If I'm going to Philadelphia, I don't call my friends in NYC and say, hey stop by!). They ask me if I'll come up and come to a concert and hang out with them. We look at the cost - it'll be like $500-600. I think maybe it'd be a good idea to meet them, maybe they want to meet me to talk about a bigger project; so we take the train. We hook up... everything is closed. We finally find a crepe place; we hang out have a great time. I thought they wanted me to come up to talk about a commission or more recordings. They give me a t-shirt, no recording. We go to the concert; sit next to a real dullard academic composer who's having his piece premiered. He asks me who am I. I tell him I won a contest. He smirks. After the concert they all go out to dinner; we head back to the hotel. A t-shirt and a free concert. Thee months later I write them. Where's my recording? Oh, hold on. I thought we sent it to you... 2 days later, oh, one of the members wasn't happy with it or something... finally I get it. But I had to bug them for it.

Here's another story! Just last year. A group has been bugging me to enter their contest. I'm talking 5 or 6 emails, msgs. They've already performed one of my harder pieces. The contest is every two years - gigantic $$ prizes. So I write them a piece. The rules say I have to go to the finals and the audience votes on the best piece, but they pick 6 pieces for the finals. I think, yeah, I've got a shot at that - this group's been bugging me. So, I write the piece, send it to them. I tell them I don't have the money for a hotel room for the finals - do I really have to be there? They say, yes, you have to be there... they then go and arrange for a hotel room for me! So, I'm thinking I've got a really good shot at this. Finally the results of the sub-finals come out - 6 slots. I'm not in the list. Two of the guys I know are amateurs. Whatever... it's still a good piece. One day, a month or so later, I decide to chat with them to see if I can learn what I did wrong. Was it too hard, etc? They tell me they didn't even look at it. I ask them what? I thought you guys were professionals? They start arguing with me about this and that. Finally, I figure out their English isn't that good and they meant to say, "We just didn't like it..." Fine... but the whole process, was so drawn out and painful, I just de-friended them. I just hated seeing their posts; it reminded me of what a pathetic fool I was to play their game.

And don't even get me started on the composition contest I entered this year. International entrants... first prize a performance in Paris. The winner? Two composers they go to school with. You just can't make this stuff up!

Posted by jeff at August 23, 2013 05:06 AM | TrackBack