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Spheres of a Genius 2023 - Premiere at Wiener Konzerthaus

Randall Smith is the current winner of the international composition competition "Spheres of a Genius – honoring Carla Bley" organized by JAM MUSIC LAB and Radio Symphonieorchester Wien. Austrian composer Christoph Suttner secured the second place, while Julia Perminova (Russia), Gabriele di Franco (Italy), and Samara Bülbül (Germany) shared the third positions.

Born in 1991 in Provo, Utah, Randall Smith serves as the Assistant Director of the "Group for Experimental Music" at Brigham Young University. His composition, "Blue Bongo Fever Dream," stands as a spectacular homage to the stylistically diverse work of Carla Bley and triumphed over a high-caliber competition of international applicants. The jury, comprised of Marin Alsop (Chief Conductor RSO Wien), Angelika Möser (Artistic Director RSO Wien), Christoph Becher (former Intendant RSO Wien), Bill Dobbins (Composer, Pianist, and Professor at the Eastman School of Music), and Marcus Ratka (Composer, Rector JAM MUSIC LAB), was impressed by the quality of the submitted pieces.

The award-winning piece had its premiere on October 4, 2023, in the sold-out main hall of the Vienna Konzerthaus, performed by the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien under the baton of Chief Conductor Marin Alsop. Randall Smith received a prize of €5,000. The evening also featured Friedrich Cerha's "Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra," with soloist Vivi Vassileva on percussion, and Igor Stravinsky's "Le sacre du printemps."

"With our accreditation as a private university in 2017, the collaboration with RSO Wien began. Through the competitions, around 300 music works of outstanding quality were created. We are pleased that as a university, we can provide an impetus to sustainably support music creators in jazz and further connect the realms of jazz-related and classical music in the music city of Vienna." (Marcus Ratka, Rector JAM MUSIC LAB University)

"Music of our time for people of our time – in line with this motto, the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien is a committed partner in the ‘Spheres of a Genius’ competition. The high-profile premiere by the RSO Wien, along with the broadcast by ORF, serves as an attractive motivation for composers to create new works. By associating with a historical figure from the world of jazz, we also bridge the gap from the past to the future." (Angelika Möser, Artistic Director of RSO Wien)

The competition "Spheres of a Genius" was initiated in 2017 by JAM MUSIC LAB Private University and the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien. Since then, it has attracted composers from around the world who take on the challenge of combining jazz and large orchestral settings. Prizes include the premiere with RSO Wien, recording and broadcasting of the work, and cash awards for the winners. The first two editions of the competition focused on the artists Thelonious Monk and Leonard Bernstein, with winners being US Grammy Award winner John Beasley and Austrian composer and arranger Christoph Cech.


Interview with winner Randall Smith: YouTube Link

Website Spheres of a Genius: Official Website

Picture: (c) Martin Zaunschirm

Authored on October 5th, 2023