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Call for Scores - Spheres of Genius 2023

Monday, February 20, 2023

Vienna, Austria

A jazz composition competition by JAM MUSIC LAB University (JMLU) in cooperation with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSO). The prize-winning work will be premiered on October 4th 2023 in the Grand Hall of the Konzerthaus Vienna under the direction of Marin Alsop. The concert will be recorded by ORF and broadcasted on the Ö1 program.

RSO and JMLU are continuing their first collaboration from 2017/2018. The composition competition “Spheres of a Genius” was based on the 100th Birthday of the jazz composer and pianist Thelonious Monk. The subsequent competition paid homage to Leonard Bernstein. This third “Spheres of a Genius” event pays tribute to Carla Bley.

As a pianist, composer and arranger, Carla Bley first distinguished herself in the 1960’s. She entered the realm of modern creative music – then known as free jazz - producing numerous genre-bending works that stand as touchstones in the development of modern music. Her efforts forged new modes of expression that both reflected and expanded jazz’s conventions.

With the aid of illustrious collaborators – which included Pharoah Sanders, Steve Lacy, George Russell, Steve Swallow, Gary Burton and Charlie Haden - in groups large and small - Bley created a singular voice that continues to inspire forward-thinking artists.

She has shaped generations of music-makers, and her work serves as a model for utilizing jazz’s important innovations in the context of contemporary music. Bley's work continues to inspire women in jazz to arrange and compose, and to help nurture the expansion of groundbreaking ideas.

The task of the composition competition relates to the role of Carla Bley as a composer. The winning piece shall succeed in transferring the impulses shaped by her into a demanding musical language of the 21st century.

The special challenge of placing the idioms of jazz in the context of a symphony orchestra should be taken into account.

The submitted composition should embrace her adventurous spirit, utilizing and developing stylistic elements that demonstrate a thorough deliberation of her recorded works. The composer’s aim is to create music showing evidence of inspiration. Innovation and originality will be rewarded.

For much of its development, jazz was a male-dominated genre. Carla Bley made significant contributions leading the way among arrangers, composers and band leaders. Because of her, woman now forge creative opportinites and advancements that push the music forward. She is a central figure and an important role model for the growing group of female composers in jazz. (Marcus Ratka)

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