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Composition success is music to his ears

Three short months to compose a musical masterpiece; two years spent living in Shanghai; one Chinese culture-inspired composition to be performed this spring at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Timothy Stulman, 28, a music student since the sixth grade and pursuant of a doctorate degree of musical arts in contemporary music, was awarded a commission to write an orchestral piece for the New York Youth Symphony.

On March 7, 2010, his work, based on Chinese elements and titled ‘Element Cycle,’ will be performed by the New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall. He will travel to the hall in February to listen to the symphony rehearse his composition.

Months after applying, Stulman said thoughts about the competition had left his mind. His memory was jogged when he received a phone call however.

‘I had applied in fall 2008 and by the time they told me in May 2009, I had actually forgotten that I had applied,’ Stulman said. ‘I was overjoyed. It’s a major competition, and I was really happy that I was going to get a great performance.’

Stulman said the competition was posted on the Internet, where composers were invited to send their scores. The scores were reviewed, and composers of the selected works were asked to write new compositions specifically for the symphony.

Stulman’s original entry was a piece titled ‘Spring.’ The work is one of four movements of his composition ‘Si Ji Tu,’ titled after a visual art form of the ancient Chinese.

Stulman submitted a recording of ‘Spring’ as performed by the Bowling Green Philharmonia, which he said may have allowed his score to stand out from the rest.

‘I had the score and a great recording from Bowling Green … and I’m sure that helped me,’ he said. ‘[It] probably gave me an advantage over people who didn’t have a recording at all.’

While Stulman spent a semester and a half composing ‘Spring,’ he was only allotted three months to compose his commissioned piece, ‘Element Cycle.’

‘I didn’t have very long to do it,’ Stulman said. ‘Normally, it takes me about a semester and a half to write an orchestra piece. ‘hellip; I had to work extremely hard because being late was not an option.’

Stulman pulled through and finished the composition, which focuses on the five Chinese elements of earth, metal, water, wood and fire.

‘The energy slowly changes from one element to the next,’ he said. ‘The piece builds throughout and at the end, ends in a big climax with fire.’

Marilyn Shrude, chair of the department of musicology, composition and theory and a professor of Stulman’s, described Stulman’s music as ‘colorful, well-crafted, imaginative’ and ‘sophisticated.’

‘He has a great work ethic, and he’s able to communicate his intentions in his music very successfully,’ Shrude said.

Kenneth Thompson, assistant dean of the College of Musical Arts, also supports Stulman and his music. As artistic director and conductor of the Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestra, Thompson asked Stulman to write a piece about Toledo for the orchestra’s 60th season.

‘I am an advocate of new music and an advocate of young composers, and I know Tim’s work and I know it to be very good,’ Thompson said. ‘I wanted Tim to write a piece of music specifically for a high school orchestra ‘hellip; so that when I go out and work with orchestras in other places I can take that piece and have them play it, too.’

Stulman’s Toledo-themed composition is titled ‘Glass,’ and it will be performed Oct. 18 by the Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestra at the Peristyle in the Toledo Museum of Art.

While Stulman’s works were performed in Boston on Sept. 18 and 19 and his ‘Element Cycle’ will be performed in New York City this spring, he said he would still enjoy having his pieces played in Bowling Green.

‘Someday I would love to teach at a university,’ Stulman said. ‘I would love to be able to share what I know with students and be a part of a music community. I would love to keep having works being performed, inside and outside of Bowling Green.’

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