2022 Elsie M. Bennett Composition Competition Winner Announced
Neil Thornock, of Provo, Utah, won first place in the Elsie Bennett Composition Competition this year with his lovely, haunting accordion solo, Moon-k'ssed Conifers.
Neil Thornock has composed for a variety of forces including orchestral, electronic, chamber, and solo work. Much of his music is written for his own idiosyncratic keyboard technique on organ, piano, carillon, accordion, and other instruments. In 2019 he premiered his three-hour work Planetarium for organ and electronics.
Recently his work has explored alternative tuning systems, especially just intonation. In 2022, he premiered his work Primordial Bell for a piano tuned in high-limit rational intonation. Further projects in various tunings are underway.
Currently, Thornock is professor of composition and theory at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He and his wife Tammy are the parents of seven children.
Neil Thornock writes:"I composed Moon-kiss'd Conifers to showcase the stunning and very reverberant acoustic of the central atrium in the Harris Fine Arts Center at Brigham Young University, a building which will be demolished in the beginning of 2023. The slowly shifting harmonies and supple melodies give space for the resonance to shine through. The result is nocturnal and perhaps a bit liturgical.
It's also a farewell tribute to a building I have worked in and loved for more than half my life. As a late-life beginner of the accordion who has an extensive music background otherwise, I have been on the lookout for music that is easy enough for my budding technique but musically challenging enough to sustain my interest.
I wrote this piece to suit my own accordion technique, which mostly consists of carrying over my organ technique to the accordion keyboard and a little bit of left-hand experience."