The Department of Music’s new Assistant Professor for Composition Charles Halka has been awarded a Barlow Endowment General Commission to create a work for the ÓNIX Ensamble. The Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University reviewed 201 applications and split $80,000 among 13 finalists for commission awards; eight awards went to the General Commission winners.
Halka has previously written music for ÓNIX – the first time in 2009 after they commissioned him to write “Por la Fuerza las Tierras” (2010, for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano) to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. ÓNIX has since performed the piece over 20 times in North America and Europe.
"My ongoing relationship with the members of this group, some of whom have performed or recorded other works of mine, is especially important because of my childhood connection to Mexico,” says Halka. “In first grade, I began spending a significant amount of time in Mexico every summer, living with a family in San Luis Potosí. I learned to speak fluent Spanish, which I now teach to my children.”
Halka’s new work for the Barlow Commission will be for flute, clarinet, and percussion, and is still in the earliest conception stage of the creative process. The percussionist, Iván Manzanilla, who performs regularly with ÓNIX, has also performed Halka’s music before, so the commission abets the growing collaboration. Manzanilla joins flutist Alejandro Escuer and clarinetist Fernando Domínguez; the trio is among Mexico's most skilled and well-known performers of contemporary music on their respective instruments.
“I'm in for a real treat as a composer,” says Halka.
The new work will be completed by the end of the academic year and premiered by ÓNIX shortly after. Plans to record and include it on an album dedicated to Halka’s compositions are in the works. His earlier commission for ÓNIX, “Por la Fuerza las Tierras,” is available on Spotify.