Dr. Kenyon Wilson, former Fulbright Scholar and Associate Professor of Low Brass and Music Theory, has won first place in one international and two national composer composition contests. Wilson has been with the UTC Department of Music faculty for more than a decade.
In December, San Diego’s Hillcrest Wind Ensemble announced that Wilson’s Solace was the first place winner of their fifth annual composition contest. His composition, along with two runners-up, will be performed at the April 12th concert. Solace has received performances by wind ensembles at UTC, Tennessee Technological University, University of West Georgia, Troy University, and Valdosta State University, in addition to being programmed by the 2014 Tennessee All-State East Band and the 2014 Alabama District II Honor Band.
In February, the Heartland Symphony Orchestra of Minnesota announced that Wilson’s Subterfuge was the winner of their 2014 Composers’ Competition. Subterfuge will receive its premiere performance by the orchestra on April 12-13. The Alabama Symphony Orchestra has announced that Subterfuge will also be featured in the ASO Composition Reading Session on April 30.
“The Heartland Symphony Orchestra’s 2014 Composers’ Competition received submissions from New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Australia, and the United States,” explained Sergey Bogza, Conductor for HSO. “Mr. Wilson’s composition Subterfuge received the top honor for its clear sense of direction, harmony, structure, and rhythm. All the parts are idiomatic and every player’s or section’s part is equally involved and important in bringing the piece to life. I believe Subterfuge will bring out the best in every musician.”
Additionally, the Boathouse Cello Choir of Jacksonville, Florida, announced Wilson is among the composers selected as their 2013/2014 composition contest finalists. On April 5th, the finalists’ compositions will then be performed in concert at the ballroom of the historic Carling Hotel in downtown Jacksonville.
While these honors bring recognition to Wilson, his department, and the University, a very important group is also positively impacted. Students are expected to analyze music to understand the composer’s intentions, and with composers on the faculty, they will know the composers intentions.
“I am primarily a composer of works for small ensembles, and these recent compositions have been for large groups,” Wilson said. “Learning to compose for the larger and established ensembles is certainly out of my comfort zone. As a result, I am broadening my knowledge within the field, and my students will benefit directly from the involvement and experiences.”
Wilson explained that UTC music education majors may not become composers themselves, but they will need the skills to arrange and adapt music for use with their future ensembles.
UTC students are not the only ones who benefit from Wilson’s expertise; he is also working with the high school and middle school bands in Tullahoma on new works written specifically for their bands.
“The students are enjoying the process…reading the sketches each month and discussing how the work will go. They end up with a stronger connection with the piece and a greater experience,” Wilson said.
The Tullahoma Middle School Band will be premiering the Propreantepenultimate Tango, Wilson’s fifth tango; the high school band piece is unnamed and unfinished. The students will name the composition.
Some composer competitions provide a stipend for the winning composer, but it’s not what drives Wilson. Rather, it is the opportunity to “collaborate with the conductors and fellow musicians. For a composer, this is the greatest award.”