The Student Commissioning Project is the AGO’s most recent new music venture. Grants of $1000 will be awarded to four collaborative composer-and-organist pairs for the composition and performance of four new works for the organ. Each pair will submit a joint application describing a proposed work and its performance. There are no restrictions with regard to compositional style. All composers, and organists must be enrolled as full- or part-time students at an accredited U.S. college, university, or conservatory. Award: Four grants of $1000 will be awarded each year to four composer and organist pairs by the AGO Committee on New Music. Half of the prize will be awarded upon selection; the second half will be awarded after the premiere and two subsequent performances.
AGO Student Commissioning Project 2016
Hon Ki Cheung (composer) and Alexander Meszler (organist) were selected last fall as one of four 2016 composer/organist pairs. In April, 2016, Mr. Meszler premiered Ms. Cheung’s piece Lalita at Bales Organ Recital Hall in Lawrence, KS; they are shown here at the Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri.
Hon Ki Cheung: Lalita is the name of one of the eight principal gopis in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. She is known as Krishna’s loving consort, and she has a fierce and loving personality. She is beautiful, smart, and spontaneous. Like other female deities in Hinduism, she possesses the feminine energy that is charming and enigmatic. I started writing the piece with a very simple melody with a dance-like accompaniment, yet it was soon fused with much complexity in harmony and rhythm in a way I did not foresee. The crafting process was almost effortless, and I barely spent any time on designing the tonal language and formal structure. The name Lalita came to me by accident after I completed the piece. Though the work does not have any religious references—and I consider it as a piece of absolute music—Lalita’s mysterious beauty captures the spirit of the piece perfectly.
Alexander Meszler: Hon Ki was incredibly easy to work with; she is full of ideas and has a thorough knowledge of the organ. Lalita is both rhythmic and melodic. The most challenging aspect of performing this work was combing through the many different articulations and their respective note values. Another challenge was internalizing meter changes. Listen to Lalita!
Hon Ki Cheung recently finished her Bachelor’s degree in Composition, Music Theory and Organ Performance at the University of Kansas. A Hong Kong native, she began her formal musical training as a pipa player, and started composing in 2013. Her composition teachers include James Barnes, Bryan Kip Haaheim, and Forrest Pierce. Her work appears in the Bayoubüchlein from the 2016 AGO convention in Houston. She will begin graduate study in music theory at the Florida State University in Fall 2016.
Alexander Meszler just received a Master of Music (Organ Performance and Music Theory) from the University of Kansas where he studied with Michael Bauer and James Higdon. He also studied with Kola Owolabi at Syracuse University where he interned several years with Kerner & Merchant Pipe Organ Builders. He will attend Arizona State University in the fall, 2016. This is his second experience as an organist in the AGO Student Commissioning Project, pairing last year with composer George Katehis.