The Chelsea Symphony has always championed contemporary music in our fourteen season history. Six years ago, we launched a composition competition for early-career composers and have selected and performed these works in the spring of each season in support of today's voices.
This year we are thrilled to announce our winning entry and two finalists:
Windmap, Sam Wu
Escaping Continuum, Bobby Ge
She Was There, Too, Alexis Lamb
Finalists are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Click here to view a special message from Gerard Schwarz (Palm Beach Symphony, Frost School of Music, All-Star Orchestra, Eastern Music Festival, Seattle Symphony), who has generously served as our guest judge since the competition's inaugural year.
The May concert on which the winning entry would have been performed has been cancelled in accordance with New York's PAUSE and in support of the safety of all, however, we are committed to presenting all of the featured artists on a future date, to be determined.
In the meantime, we hope you join us in congratulating and learning more about Sam Wu and our two finalists, Bobby Ge and Alexis Lamb, as we all stay safe.
Sam Wu (Windmap)
Winner of The Chelsea Symphony 2019-20 Composition Competition
The interconnectedness of our postmodern world is a major theme in my music. In an age where a night’s sleep is all it takes to travel halfway around the world, and where Bach and Mongolian throat singing can occupy adjacent YouTube tabs, I explore and seek inspiration in non-Western musical traditions, even as I write and perform works within the classical lineage. I am interested in bridging apparent differences between cultures and musicians, and in doing so, seeking the subcutaneous common ground that we share as human beings.
The globalization of culture makes it impossible for artists to exist in a vacuum. In fact, we have an obligation to be socially responsible. We produce works as citizen-artists, where we address and invite reflection upon the realities that confront us today. My recent pieces feature dialogues between instruments, and in extension, musical traditions, both foreign and familiar to me. In addition to orchestras, choruses, and chamber ensembles, I work with didgeridoo, shakuhachi, sho, pipa, erhu, yangqin / Chinese dulcimer virtuosi, as well as Mongolian throat singers. In doing so, I first highlight the differences among these instruments, before considering how I may interact with their cultural contexts.
Ultimately, I try to transcend the assumed identities of the instruments I write for, be it a cello, soprano singer, or morin khuur (Mongolian horse-head fiddle). By drawing on their rich pasts and distinct identities, I hope to synthesize a contemporary understanding of how we relate to one another in the ways we experience art. In geopolitics, borders are absolute; in music, the blurring, or even the abolishment, of boundaries can be the most beautiful.
Sam Wu's music deals with the beauty in blurred boundaries. From Melbourne, Australia, Sam attended The Juilliard School for his M.M. in Composition, after receiving an A.B. in Music and East Asian Studies from Harvard University. His teachers include Tan Dun, Robert Beaser, Chaya Czernowin, Richard Beaudoin, and Derek Bermel.
Selected for the American Composers Orchestra's EarShot readings, winner of an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, First Prize at the Harbin Competition, and a SCI / ASCAP Commission, Sam Wu was also awarded Harvard's Robert Levin Prize and Juilliard's Palmer Dixon Prize.
Sam’s collaborations span five continents, most notably with the Melbourne, China National, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Harbin Symphonies, Sarasota Orchestra, New York City Ballet, National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, Shanghai International Arts Festival, Asia Society, the Parker Quartet, violinist Miranda Cuckson, sheng master Wu Wei, and pipa virtuoso Wu Man.
Sam also has been featured on the National Geographic Channel, Business Insider, Harvard Crimson, Yale Daily, Asahi Shimbun, People's Daily, CCTV, among others.
Bobby Ge (Escaping Continuum)
Finalist, The Chelsea Symphony 2019-20 Composition Competition
Bobby Ge (b. 1996) is a Baltimore-based composer. His music possesses a strongly dramatic character informed by his love for film, and is influenced by strains of post-minimalism, late romanticism, and elements of high modernity. Ge’s works prioritize rhythm, color, and melodic clarity to form cogent and engaging arcs, weaving together complex textures, bright and sprightly orchestrations, and memorable melodies. He was shortlisted for the 2019 Zemlinsky Prize, and has further received recognition from various competitions and organizations including the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, the International Music Competition of Harbin, the Red Note Composition Competition, the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, and the Future Symphony Competition. His work has been performed by the Harbin Symphony Orchestra, the Concerto Chamber Orchestra, Pique Collective, the Future Symphony Competition Orchestra, celli@berkeley, and many student performers.
Ge currently is pursuing graduate studies in composition at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, studying with Kevin Puts and Harold Meltzer. As an undergraduate at UCBerkeley, he received the university’s most prestigious prizes in the creative arts, including the Eisner Prize and the David and Diana Menn Memorial Prize, before graduating with departmental Honors under the supervision of his thesis advisor, Professor Cindy Cox. Ge has taken additional lessons with Unsuk Chin, Georg Haas, Richard Danielpour, Pierre Jalbert, Amy Beth Kirsten, Christopher Dobrian, Zhou Long, George Tsontakis, and David Ludwig.
A dedicated educator, Ge has taught and tutored music theory, composition, and piano for several years, and earned a coveted position as a graduate assistant in theory at the Peabody Institute.
In his undergraduate career, Ge presided over UCBerkeley’s official Undergraduate Composer’s Club, curating semesterly student composer concerts, inviting professional composers to lecture, premiering others’ new music, and finally, establishing a mentorship program with younger composers. He believes firmly in the value of music composition as an expressive and uniting force, and is eager to share this vision with others around him.
Alexis Lamb (She Was There, Too)
Finalist, The Chelsea Symphony 2019-20 Composition Competition
Alexis C. Lamb (b. 1993) is a composer, percussionist, and educator who is interested in fostering communities of mindful and genuine music-making. She is the Education and Publications Director for Arcomusical, a non-profit organization that advocates for the artistic advancement of the Afro-Brazilian berimbau and related musical bows (www.arcomusical.com). Lamb was a recipient of the 2018 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award for Meia, her solo-through-sextet song cycle for berimbau. Lamb’s music for berimbau has been regarded as having “sparkling optimism throughout,” and as “a pleasure in its own right” (I Care If You Listen). Her compositions for berimbau can be found on Innova Recordings and National Sawdust Tracks.
Lamb has received multiple commissions and has collaborated with various individuals and ensembles, including Evan Chapman, Percussia, Zeitgeist, Yale Philharmonia, the University of Nebraska Percussion Ensemble, the Arizona State University Symphony Orchestra, and the Northern Illinois University World Steelband. Her music has been performed in North America, South America, Europe, and Africa.
As an educator, Lamb recently taught private composition lessons for undergraduate students as a Teaching Fellow for the Department of Music at Yale University as well as acted as a teaching assistant for graduate hearing and analysis courses in the Yale School of Music. Prior to returning to graduate school, she was the 6-12th grade band director for Meridian CUSD 223 in Stillman Valley, Illinois, for two years. She was also the interim percussion instructor for the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra in spring 2016 and created a week-long percussion camp at NIU for 4-12th grade students of varying abilities that has now grown into a faculty-led camp through the NIU Percussion and Steel Pan Studios.
Lamb is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Composition at the Yale School of Music. She graduated summa cum laude with two Bachelor of Music degrees in music education and percussion performance from Northern Illinois University. Her major teachers include Hannah Lash, Martin Bresnick, Gregory Beyer, Michael Mixtacki, Robert Chappell, and David Maki.