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Randall Smith wins the jazz-composition competition “Spheres of a Genius - Honoring Carla Bley”

Randall Smith has been named the winner of the jazz-composition competition "Spheres of a Genius - Honoring Carla Bley." The competition, which was launched in 2017 by JAM MUSIC LAB Private University and ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, is currently dedicated to celebrating the works of the esteemed composer and pianist, Carla Bley.

Facing strong competition from 50 international applicants, American composer and trombonist Randall Smith was selected as the winning composer. His composition titled "Blue Bongo Fever Dream" impressed the jury, which included esteemed members such as Marin Alsop (chief conductor of Vienna RSO), Angelika Möser (artistic director of Vienna RSO), Christoph Becher (former director of Vienna RSO), Bill Dobbins (composer, pianist), and Marcus Ratka (composer and director of JAM MUSIC LAB). Notably, Austria's Christoph Suttner secured the second position, while third place was shared by Julia Perminova from Russia, Gabriele di Franco from Italy, and Samara Bülbül from Germany.

Born in 1991 in Provo, Utah, Randall Smith currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Group for Experimental Music at Brigham Young University. His journey as a composer, arranger, and musician has been significantly influenced by a diverse range of jazz and contemporary experimental music genres.

The jury praised "Blue Bongo Fever Dream" for its exceptional tribute to Carla Bley's stylistically diverse body of work. Smith's ingenious composition effortlessly weaves together elements of jazz, blues, Afro-Caribbean music, as well as intricate harmonies and rhythms reminiscent of Xenakis and Stravinsky.

Within the approximately 12-minute piece, Smith adeptly explores the full sonic potential of orchestral instruments, artfully incorporating them into the composition's progression. An unexpected waltz, infused with humor, breaks through the piece's invigorating effect, introducing a virtuosic finale that showcases the orchestra's impressive skills to their fullest.

The premiere of "Blue Bongo Fever Dream" is scheduled to take place on October 4, 2023, in the great hall of the Vienna Konzerthaus, as part of a concert by the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conducted by chief conductor Marin Alsop, the concert will feature the orchestra's remarkable performance of Randall Smith's composition.



Authored on July 26th, 2023