Faculty alumnus wins composition award

Sturdivant Adams (Worcester, 2016) has won an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award for his piece ‘Revolutions’, which was written and recorded earlier this year.

“Every year, it is both an honor and a pleasure for The ASCAP Foundation to recognize the gifted young composers who are selected as Morton Gould Young Composer Award recipients,” said ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams.

Established as The ASCAP Foundation Young Composer Awards in 1979 with funding from The ASCAP Foundation Jack and Amy Norworth Fund, the program grants cash prizes to concert music composers up to 30 years of age whose works are selected through a juried national competition.  These composers may be American citizens, permanent residents or students possessing U.S. student visas.

“When I was writing ‘Revolutions’, I wanted to write something that spoke to my musical roots in concert music, film music, and jazz”, says Sturdivant. “In the past, film music drew inspiration heavily from concert music, but now it seems the flow of ideas between these mediums enjoys a much more equal, even symbiotic relationship in many ways. ‘Revolutions’ takes its structure and development from forms more traditional to concert music, but there are souvenirs buried throughout – homages to the music of John Williams, Steven Stucky, Chick Corea, the vintage synth music of Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, and much more.”

The piece is also a departure from the idea of a more traditional concert music ensemble, according to Sturdivant. “In film music, there is a tradition of using often novel combinations of instruments to form ensembles that you wouldn’t encounter in typical concert music of the past. You use the instruments you need to dramatically tell the story. Film composer Bernard Herrmann was one of the great pioneers of this – he used combinations of instruments that you never would have thought to put together. In this tradition, ‘Revolutions’ is scored for Korg MS-20 Analog Synth, Celesta, Marimba, Piano, 2 Harps, and 3 Double Basses”.

After completing an MPhil in Music Composition at the University of Oxford, where he studied with Professor Robert Saxton, Sturdivant received an MM from the University of Southern California’s Thornton Screen Scoring Master’s program in 2019. His Second Symphony – commissioned by Warsaw’s Polin Museum – was premiered in 2019 by the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra. In 2018, he was awarded the 1st prize in the Royal Northern Sinfonia’s Composers’ Competition, and earlier this year, he was awarded the 1st prize in the inaugural 2020 ScoreLive London international Film Scoring Competition, judged by top Hollywood composers and orchestrators including Pete Anthony and Garry Schyman.

Sturdivant has contributed music to TV series including Robot Chicken (Adult Swim) and Crossing Swords (Sony Pictures Television), the latter of which premieres on Hulu on June 12th.