MPLS (imPulse) is pleased to announce the winner of the final round of our Compose Yourself! competition sponsored by New Music USA. Michael's winning composition, The Gardener, was selected in a blind judging process. The premiere of Michael's work will be featured in our Gardens Are Prolific performance in May 2018.
As a graduate of the music department at Minnesota State University - Mankato, Michael D. Atwood (b. 1990) has taken advantage of numerous semesters studying private composition with Dr. David Dickau. His works have received honors as winner of multiple young composers' competitions and professional calls for scores, and can be found in print by Colla Voce and Pavane Publishing. While native to Minnesota, his music has been performed throughout the country, most recently featured with a west coast premiere in the San Francisco Bay. Now holding a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance as well as a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting, Michael currently teaches voice out of his private studio near Minneapolis while serving as music director for local churches and theatre companies.
We asked Michael to share a bit more about The Gardner with us. Here is what he had to say:
The key to a successful composition always, in my opinion, lies first with the text. It is what gives meaning to the setting, gives purpose to the performance, and ultimately provides guidance through storytelling to life’s many journeys. The setting for “The Gardener,” utilizing an excerpt of Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry of the same title, touches on the joys of gardening, while focusing more directly on the impact this task has upon our planet, and upon one another. Not having a particularly green thumb myself, I immediately appreciated this all-encompassing take on what is so often an individualized hobby. Rather than simply reading of great things, this text implores the reader to “open your doors and look abroad” and experience the communities that have been built for us. Nearly everything we interact with is the product of another’s efforts. Though the gardener cannot “send a single flower” from his current blossom to the reader some hundred years later, his work gives abundantly by living on in “fragrant memories” for all to appreciate. As with any good poetry, there are many messages to be taken from Tagore’s, “The Gardener.” Most evident, though, is his request for all to relish in life’s experiences made possible by the physical, environmental, structural, communal, political, and foundational labors of those who came before. From that, we can ask ourselves how to return the favor.