When I was notified of my participation in last year’s highSCORE Festival in July 2011 , I had no idea how pivotal this would be for my prospects as an aspiring young composer. The highSCORE Festival attracts very high caliber composer participants representing leading music educational institutions throughout North America and Europe. The faculty of the highSCORE Festival 2011 included Giya Kancheli, Christopher Theofanidis, Paul Glass, Giovanni Albini and Amy Beth Kirsten, to name but a few. In addition to several private lessons and group master classes, we had the opportunity to hear our music performed in wonderful medieval church acoustics in various venues in the ancient city of Pavia, which has roots dating back to pre-Roman times.

I was lucky in that I heard three of my pieces performed live during the course of the festival: Aftermath for solo guitar (Omar Fassa, guitar), Sanctus for string quartet Quartetto Indaco) and My Beloved for horn and piano (Corey Klein, horn; Ethan Braun, piano). The latter two were world premieres and have since received subsequent performances and Aftermath will be appearing on the next highSCORE CD, recorded by Omar Fassa.

Like many composers I don’t hesitate to work on pieces after having heard them performed. This was the case with Sanctus, in which I found some sections to be very effective, and others less so. I rewrote the piece over the six months that followed the festival, and submitted it to a competition for new works for string quartet, announced by the Villiers Quartet in London. Sanctus is one of six compositions chosen from among over 50 submissions that was selected into the semifinal round by the ensemble.

The friends that I met at the festival encouraged me not only to continue to compose for them, but also to apply to some of the top schools in the United States, where I have long desired to continue my studies. I was recently notified of my acceptance to my top choice school – purportedly one of the most exclusive schools in America.

Giovanni Albini has been extremely supportive of me and my undertakings since the end of the festival. Being a member of the highSCORE New Music Center is a great opportunity open to all past participants of the festival. I have been in constant communication with the highSCORE New Music Center, notifying them of my career developments, some of which they have posted to their news feed, which is viewed by industry people throughout the world.

I highly recommend any aspiring composer to apply to the highSCORE Festival. It is a great place to expand one’s perspective, travel, make lifelong friends and be exposed to living new music legends. As the winner of the 2011 highSCORE Prize, I will be returning to the highSCORE Festival 2012 free of charge and I look forward to reconnecting with the highSCORE faculty and meeting new colleagues.   The application deadline for this year’s Festival is April 15.