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Jan. 23, 2016
“Spark!” by Robert Langenfeld, a 2013 Northwest Missouri State University alumnus, is the winning composition in the 2016 C.T. Smith Memorial Composition Contest for Young Composers.
Langenfeld will receive a $5,000 cash prize during the Missouri Music Educators Association Conference, where the Clayton High School Symphonic Band will present the premiere performance Thursday, Jan. 28.
The Claude T. Smith Memorial Composition Contest is sponsored by the Lambda Chapter of Phi Beta Mu and was established as a band composition contest in 1982 under the leadership of prominent band composer and Lambda Chapter member Claude T. Smith. The contest occurs every three years and is open to composers age 30 and under. It was named in Smith’s honor after his death in 1987.
“It’s a tremendous honor to win this contest,” Langenfeld said. “The piece was judged by a panel of extremely accomplished experts including a major publisher and a composer who has over 300 works in print. So the fact that they chose “Spark!” over the rest of the entries really means a lot to me. This will allow me to share my music on a bigger stage and get it out to more people now.”
An active composer and arranger, Langenfeld drew his inspiration for “Spark!” from a symphony he began writing several years ago but never finished. After graduating from Northwest, he rediscovered the unfinished symphony in a box of scores he had composed. “Spark!” is based on pieces of that symphony.
The note from the conductor’s score reads, “Set around a 6-note motif, ‘Spark!’ represents the chain of events that can happen as an idea is brought to life from a singular seed. The piece evolves from this idea and eventually takes on a life of its own.”
Langenfeld got his spark for composing after beginning piano lessons at the age of 7 and took notice of a common structure in the pieces he played.
“I started experimenting a little here and there,” he said. “Around age 12 I really got into film scores and decided I wanted to become a Hollywood composer. I started composing small chamber pieces and it wasn’t until I was in high school that I attempted to compose my first concert band piece. I loved the sounds of the concert band and I have stuck with it ever since.”
As a Northwest student, Langenfeld was a member of the Bearcat Marching Band, Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band and Low Brass Choir. He also was a member of the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity.
“Northwest gave me opportunities and experiences with my compositions that I don’t think I would have had anywhere else,” he said. “I got to meet with composers and performers from around the world that would not only give me great advice about composing but how to get my compositions out there and market them.”
Langenfeld says the University’s music department and faculty played a critical role in his success. He enjoyed collaborating with members of the ensembles, which performed some of his compositions. Additionally, Langenfeld co-created a music app and composed the music for KXCV’s “All Things Northwest” as a Northwest student.
“It’s not every day that you get to go to rehearsal with a large group of your colleagues and friends and practice the music you just finished writing,” he said. “They would go out of their way to collaborate with me to get every last detail right on the piece, so when it came time for the performance the piece would be perfect. It was such a great experience that I’m still thankful for to this day.”
Langenfeld lives in Shawnee, Kansas, where he is a software engineer and operates his own publishing company, RLCompositions. He writes for traditional performance mediums and is an active film scorer, having scored for more than a dozen independent films. He also is an active drill writer and consults with marching band programs to design their drills for competition season.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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