Spheres of a genius. 100 years of Thelonious Monk

A jazz composition competition by JAM MUSIC LAB
in cooperation with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.

I’m very glad to be able to announce “Spheres of A Genius”, a composition competition coordinated by JAM MUSIC LAB in cooperation with ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Vienna.

Thelonious Monk is one of the most fascinating artists to have existed in Jazz. Similar to Ellington and Mingus, he’s also one of the great composers in a music which is – as Gunther Schuller once pointed out – “a player’s and improviser’s art.”

To me Monk’s music has opened doors to new avenues of sounds, structures and ways of creating music. He has raised my awareness towards the charming beauty of dissonance and the contradictions in the arts.

Approximately one year ago, the upcoming occasion of the 100th birthday of Thelonious Monk in 2017 started to encouraged me to work on the exciting and equally challenging idea of organizing an international composer’s award for outstanding music creators in Jazz. Now this project has become a reality, and I feel I need to offer my sincere thanks to Dr. Christoph Becher, director of ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Vienna, for his willingness to cooperate with JAM MUSIC LAB; Dr. Peter Pichler and Mag. Norbert Zimmermann, directors of Berndorf Private Foundation, for their support in making the prizes possible; and Andreas Rathammer for his work as the project executive at JAM MUSIC LAB. 

Idea and outline of the competition 
Thelonious Monk was one of the most innovative artists in jazz music, whose contribution opened up exciting new avenues for this music. As Monk also utilised a vocabulary that was also being used by contemporary classical composers, the competition is supported by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. 
Monk and the core repertoire of the RSO Wien are close to each other in many respects. JAM MUSIC LAB has developed the idea of “Spheres of a Genius” in honor of the 100th birthday of one of the most important personalities of modern jazz and is responsible for the realization of this competition. 

The aim of the contest is to create music that will reflect the spirit of Thelonious Monk from a contemporary perspective; to provoke inspiration for further innovation, originality and musical communication in contemporary jazz. The composition should be intended to offer a demanding and an up-to-date podium for the exploration of exciting interrelationships of jazz in its composed, as well as improvised forms. The “Sounds” and “Spheres” in the unmistakable musical innovations of Monk are very much prevalent in the possibilities that composed music offers us, especially when a large orchestral composition calls for the orchestra to interact with jazz idioms and jazz musicians.

1st prize of the contest: The winning composition will be premiered by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Soloists in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein on June 7th, 2018 and broadcasted as part of the Ö1 radio programme. The prize money is 5,000 EUR.