Junior wins composition contest

Michael John Cuervorst, a master’s student in music composition at Carnegie Mellon, created a campus-wide music composition contest this semester. Although the contest was not highly advertised — mainly through posters placed around CFA — four contestants participated.

The winner of the contest, Robert Randazzo, a junior music composition student with a minor in music education, was chosen by two faculty judges in a blind judging.

Randazzo says he saw the flyers in CFA and was intrigued. The guidelines of the contest were straightforward: write three to five short musical compositions for three to five players. Using these guidelines, Randazzo strove to push the boundaries of musical composition in his aptly titled piece “3-to-5-Miniatures.”

When one discusses Randazzo’s compositions with him, it is clear that he is a student passionate about his major and about music. He patiently explained some of the more technical terms in his piece and how he believed he had achieved a new personal level of musical exploration through it.

Using mainly a soprano voice and a vibraphone, he created miniature compositions about a page each in length. “I chose the two instruments because I love how they sound together and individually,” stated Randazzo. “The piece is about the relationship between these two instruments and how they interact together and apart. The vibraphone imitates the vibrato in a singer’s voice, so I played with that similarity throughout my composition.”

“The music program here is very classically strong, but as a music composer you are exposed to a lot of modern music,” said Randazzo. “I drew from this exposure and tried to make this composition avant garde in the sense that it seeks to be adventurous in surprising ways.” His decision to submit the composition in handwritten form differs from the norm of standardized pieces and also lends it a personal edge.

This competition was the first composition contest that Randazzo has won to date. “It felt great to win the contest and I was very confident in my piece when I submitted it,” said Randazzo. As a junior in the music department, Randazzo is required to give a junior recital. He plans to perform his piece “3-to-5-Miniatures” at the recital, which will be held on April 23 at 8 p.m. in the Alumni Concert Hall.