Given the breadth of experience among the composers you just described, what is your impression of the current state of pibroch composition? What stuck out for you once you saw the submissions?
In general, the submitted pibrochs were a varied and impressive lot, and the quality supports the idea that more of these contests are in order.
My limited experience makes me woefully incompetent to judge a composer’s intent, so I made it a point to not listen to the submissions for quality. I only listened to the audio submissions to ensure there was no speaking on the audio that could identify the composer and I viewed the scores in the same way. We were strict about keeping identifying information out of sight, and sent a few submissions back for editing. Once the judges decided on the winning tunes, it was only then that the names and biographies were returned to them for the announcement.
Many of the audio files were on practice chanters, both reeded and electronic, and we only meant the audio files to support the interpretation of the scores. As most APC members know, written scores are not a very reliable way to convey the music as intended, so the audio requirement allowed the judges to pick up unique musical qualities that are tough to interpret from the page. However, the audio files were only used to support the judging because many older composers are no longer active players and requiring audio of pipes would have unfairly limited our submissions.
I had an opportunity to listen to the winning pibrochs posted on Piping Press and am very happy with the results. Others have shared their work on social media and that is extremely satisfying because our whole intent was to get more music out to listeners. Matt Turnbull posted his submission and I find it quite breathtaking. To hear this work and from others like J Montague clearly indicates the art form is far from stagnant.
More to follow…