Blame Mozart. Ever since Salzburg's most famous child prodigy penned his first minuets at age 5, the bar has been set awfully high for aspiring young composers.
Just don't tell that to the youngsters, ranging in age from 6 to 18, who participated in this year's 9th Annual Pikes Peak Young Composers Competition. Whatever they lack in technique, they make up for with youthful exuberance that comes with the possibility of having an original composition performed for a receptive audience.
"This year, the quality of entries has just been amazing," said Leonard Rhodes, a local music luminary who founded the competition in 1995. "The competition has truly become highly competitive, and we've received entries from all over the state."
In this year's competition, entrants were judged in one of five categories: solo composition, chamber music, orchestral/band/ choral, string quartet and jazz. The top composers in each age group will be recognized at the Young Composers Concert on Sunday, May 23, at St. Paul's United Methodist Church.
With the exception of several entries written for large ensembles, all the winning compositions will be performed live.
"Last November, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic presented a Young People's Concert to perform some of the marvelous string symphony entries which we received," said Rhodes, "and we're certainly hoping that similar opportunities arise again this year."
Rhodes feels that the competition is perfect way for young composers to get their works noticed and receive helpful feedback from the music community.
"It's hard to get orchestral music on the platform," he said, "but we do our best to notify people that these are wonderful works which need to be performed."
Dedicated to encouraging the art of musical composition through "education, professional evaluation, and performance opportunities," for young people, the PPYCC, as in years past, will also present an annual summer festival in conjunction with the Colorado College New Music Symposium from July 16 to 18, as well as seminars, lectures and recitals designed to train and motivate aspiring composers in the art of writing music.
"The competition becomes something they work towards the entire year, and as their pieces get better, our reputation gets stronger and stronger," said Rhodes, who claims the future is bright for the PPYCC, which will enter its 10th year next spring by welcoming back past winners to present their new pieces.
"The competition is really a process. It's our hope that these composers will continue to write music throughout their lives. We're simply here to recognize them for what they've already accomplished."
In addition to competing for musical prizes donated by Fall River Music and the prestige of having their pieces performed, all entrants in this year's contest receive a written critique of their composition and helpful commentary from the judges to ensure that the process of composition is as constructive as it is invigorating.
-- Joe Kuzma
9th annual Pikes Peak Young Composers Concert
St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 2111 Carlton Ave.
Sunday, May 23 at 3 p.m.
Free; Call 593-1831.