Marathon 2017

Composer: Paul Hansen (Winner of the 2017 Composition Marathon)

An initial thought I had when accepting the challenge to write a String Quartet in forty eight hours was: “I’ve got it. I will write this a Gigue (‘jig’) in Rondo form! Since I have to repeat the ‘A’ section multiple times anyway, that will save me some time!” I believed I had had a moment of brilliance, but I soon learned that each iteration of the repeating section (the aforementioned “A” section) of a Rondo (which has a formal structure of ABACAD...etc.) actually needed to fit organically in whatever place in the piece it happened to occur, given the character I had chosen for the piece. Alas, this meant that I would have to create a slight variation each for each occurrence, meaning that no time would be saved, really. So much for the “brilliant” idea. However, choosing to stick with a Rondo form eventually proved to be a welcome guide and inspiration for completing the piece. In it, I use the “A” section as an anchor and launch point for short journeys into different emotional territories in the alternating sections. In addition, I use rapid harmonic rhythms and quick shifts in dynamics in an attempt to enhance the contrast between sections and as variations within them.

Composer: Kyle Randall

The tango is one of the more elusive Hispanic dances to define. As a usually serious dance, tangos are often written in minor keys and filled with passion and dark elegance. Though some familiar rhythms are usually included, the tango as a genre has expanded to cover a wide variety of musical expression. Most notably, the composer Astor Piazzolla wrote almost exclusively tangos, and is still considered a prominent classical composer. This piece draws on influence from these sources and aims to be fun to play and to listen to.

Composer: David Velasco

Samba and Bossa are Brazilian music genres and dance styles with its roots in Africa. On my composition, I explore the melodic and rhythmic traditions of these genres through the string quartet. Rhythmically, the structures are laid to evoke the customary accompaniment of instruments like the guitar and minor percussion. Melodically, I'm aimed to create a simple and recognizable tune based on modal functions and jazz influences. Hopefully, it feels like a BOSSa.

Composer: John Vidovic

This piece draws on the primary rhythmic drive prevalent in the clave rhythm in Salsa. The harmonic language of the piece draws its inspiration from Shostakovich. The percussive effect used in the middle section of the piece is representative of the clave.

Composer: Rhett Jaramillo

A Sarabande is a slow, stately Spanish dance in triple meter. My own "Sarabande" is inspired by the Sarabande by Arthur Honegger from L'album des Six. Honegger wrote his Sarabande to be nestled in a group of works by all of the members of the group of Neo-Classical French composers known as Les Six. What is seemingly a simple idea becomes gradually more complex and is constantly expanded upon. His constant elaboration on a singular idea drives the work forward. The main theme is played and manipulated over and over again until it enters in it's pure form once again before entering into a distorted pattern of syncopations, ending in rhythmic and harmonic obscurity and leaving the audience thinking how we got from point A to point B.

Composer: Roman Baranskiy

Composer: Adam Young (Mention of honor from the Jury)

The Tarentella is a timeless music and dance form that functions in contemporary dance, 20th century musicals, classical symphonies and sonatas, baroque dance, ancient peasant culture and beyond. Some sources say the tarentella originates in caverns of 15th century Sicily as a medicinal dance used to heal victims of a venomous spider bite by sweating out the poison. Motives in the piece include intervals of open fifths sounding like hollow caves, natural harmonics to illuminate the spinning of spiders webs, glistening pizzicati emulating the steps of the spiders, cacophonous minor seconds to fill our ears with their poison and the first dynamic marking “niente” representing timelessness to demonstrate a quality that transcends art history like the tarentella. Unexpected interruptions and density of texture in this particular piece depict how other sources claim usage of the dance; a temporary relief for manic people who would dance day and night to come back to reality. Another ancient role for the tarantella was a competition between dancers and musicians, completely improvised, to see who could last the longest. Due to the competitive nature of the piece, the four instruments utilize their full potential so that each player competes against one another, no musician allowed a respite until the last bars mimic the heaving of a fatigued artist. As if impossible to continue any longer, the piece ends abruptly without a perfect cadence.

Post-Reading Phase

Submit your updated score + parts

Composition Marathon Competition 2017

This will be the second year of this amazing opportunity - exclusive to composers from SFCM**


48 hours = String Quartet

On the second weekend of January of 2017 you'll be notified of the official countdown and a theme/concept that the jury agreed on.

You'll have 48 hours to finish your piece and submit the score + parts.



We've teamed up with the amazing guys from The Thalea String Quartet. We'll have the reading of your pieces on

Friday January 20th from 1 - 3pm at SFCM's Sol Joseph Recital Hall

You'll have the opportunity to work on sections, notation issues, etc, directly with the performers!



After the reading, you'll have a chance to tweak and improve minor details on your composition and submit the revised score + parts 48 hours after the reading. The Concert will take place at SFCM's Sol Joseph Recital Hall on January 28th at 8pm.


**Open to current SFCM students and alumni.