What “Iron Chef America” is to cooking, the annual Rapido! contest is to chamber music composers. Like the chefs and the “secret ingredient” sprung on them at the last minute, the composers don’t know the specifications for the contest until the last minute. And like the iron chefs, they’re on a short clock: only two weeks to write a four-to-six-minute piece.
Yesterday, the Atlanta Chamber Players announced the 15 regional semi-finalists in this year’s Rapido! contest. Kevin Beavers of West Virginia and Piotr Szewczyk and Roger Zare, both of Florida, are the semi-finalists in the competition’s Southeastern Region, which encompasses 14 states and the District of Columbia. Three composers were chosen from each of the contest’s five regions nationwide.
Rapido! was founded in 2009 by the Atlanta Chamber Players and the Antinori Foundation to promote composition of new chamber music. This year, the specifications for the music were kept secret from the entrants until June 11. Then they had only until June 25 to write their composition and submit it for judging.
Competitive regional concerts, to select five finalists, will take place this fall in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco. Those five works will then compete in a national final concert in Atlanta on January 30, 2013. The judges for the national final will be Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Music Director Robert Spano and composers Michael Gandolfi and Jennifer Higdon, both closely associated with Spano and the ASO as part of its “Atlanta school” of composers.
The winning composer will receive a $7,500 commission to write two more works: a chamber piece of 14 to 18 minutes, to be premiered by the Atlanta Chamber Players, Boston Musica Viva, Fifth House Ensemble, Voices of Change and Left Coast Chamber Ensemble in fall 2013, and a piece for symphony orchestra, to be premiered by the ASO in spring 2014. In addition, the first prize includes an honorarium for contest-related travel and a two-week residency at the Hambidge Center for the Arts in the North Georgia mountains.
Each of the 15 semi-finalists will receive a $500 prize, and each of the five finalists will receive another $500. In addition, a national “audience favorite” prize of $500 will be awarded at the finals concert, determined through online voting.
The news comes just as the Atlanta Chamber Players head for Mexico to participate in the San Miguel de Allende Chamber Music Festival. The city of San Miguel de Allende, 170 miles northwest of Mexico City and 6,200 feet above sea level, has a long history of attracting visual artists, writers and foreign retirees and is a designated UNESCO cultural world heritage site.
The ACP will perform on August 16, 17 and 19 at the Angela Peralta Theater in the city’s historic district. In addition, ACP Artistic Director and pianist Paula Peace, who is already in Mexico, said by email that the musicians will do educational work coaching college ensembles on the morning of August 15, leading up to a free student concert that evening.