Shavon Lloyd ’19, an undergraduate at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, was recently selected as the winner of the 2018 Composition Competition sponsored by the 18th Street Singers of Washington, D.C.
Lloyd’s original composition for the group, titled “So Breaks the Sun,” beat out 137 submissions from composers across the country. The 18th Street Singers premiered Lloyd’s work in special concerts earlier this month. As the first-place winner, Lloyd received a grand prize award of $1,500, as well as travel and lodging so that he could attend the premiere concerts in Washington, D.C.
The Crane student said that he pulls inspiration from the styling of older music and poetry, which he fuses with his more modern style. Lloyd’s winning composition, “So Breaks the Sun,” sends the words of English Renaissance dramatist and poet Ben Jonson on an intense and triumphant ride of sound and rhythm.
“‘So Breaks the Sun’ is unlike any piece I’ve written. I spent a lot of time focusing on the themes and emotions that Ben Jonson communicated, used his beautiful language and applied my own musical syntax to create this composition. This is one of the very few times where I completely surrendered myself to the text, and I am truly excited to hear it come to life through the amazing 18th Street Singers,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd studies both music composition and music education, with an emphasis on voice, at The Crane School of Music. He began composing music at the age of 16, and writes a wide variety of music, ranging from intimate solo pieces to exciting choral and orchestral works, which have been performed and read by ensembles such as the Crane Concert Choir, Crane Symphony Orchestra, Akropolis Reed Quintet and the Ethel String Quartet. In 2014, Lloyd won the Manhattan Choral Ensemble’s New Music for New York composition contest, with his choral piece, "Untitled," becoming the youngest person to ever win the competition.
“Choral music holds a special place in my heart. I continue to be amazed by the variety of sounds that a choir can create. When writing for voices, I love creating those moments where the voices can really shine. Whether it’s close harmony, big open chords, or monophonic textures, playing with the different abilities of the choir has always been a huge pleasure for me. And of course, as a young composer, I love hearing my works come to life. There is no better feeling than putting music to paper and having it performed in real time by beautiful choral ensembles,” Lloyd said.
Another composer with a Crane connection was also recognized in the Composition Competition. Crane School of Music alumnus Rich Campbell ’80 was one of three finalists, for his piece, “In Those Years, No One Slept.” The work recently won the Uncommon Music Festival Competition, and will be premiered by that ensemble in August.
Founded in 2004, the 18th Street Singers is a 50-voice ensemble of young professionals living, learning and working in and around our nation's capital. Named after the road along which many of its members live and play, the group's mission is to reinvigorate a new generation of choral music audiences by offering fresh, spirited interpretations of both traditional and contemporary choral works, while insisting on the very highest standards of performance. Recent performances at the Kennedy Center, Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony (attended by President Barack Obama), and repeat invitations to the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C., have highlighted the group's rising reputation in the nation's capital and beyond. The 18th Street Singers’ diverse repertoire ranges from classical to contemporary, including masterpieces for double choir by the likes of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Frank Martin, American spirituals, folk songs from around the globe, and a continued commitment to the music of emerging contemporary composers, such as Eric Whitacre and Ola Gjeilo. To learn more, visit www.18thstreetsingers.com.
For more information about SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, please visit www.potsdam.edu/crane.
Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution.
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