Several months ago, I wrote a series of posts with advice about sending music to the annual submissions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I did this by featuring my losing entries. This is the series, in case you missed it:
I mentioned that I finished the series before results were announced. Now the 2013 results have been out for awhile, and I’m not going to spoil any secrets by talking about it here.
My submission for 2013, Like Sunlight Gleams Thy Grace, O Lord, has a long and strange history. My good friend David Macfarlane wrote the hymn, and he submitted it in the hymn category a few years ago.
When that happens with my own work, I usually shrug and pick something else to send the next year. But I really liked the message and melody of this particular hymn, so I asked David if I could arrange it as an anthem. We submitted it.
At this point, I was pretty disappointed. It was not because I just wanted an award and didn’t get one; I received a different award in the cultural arts submissions that year, so I certainly didn’t qualify for any pity. I just knew that David’s hymn was beautiful and powerful (and honestly better than some of the anthems I’ve heard at previous Church Music Festivals), and I wanted people to hear it.
So I did something I’ve never done, something I wouldn’t recommend. I revised the anthem arrangement and resubmitted it. I worked hard to make it look good on the page. I made some of the divisi optional in order to make it more accessible for ward or stake choirs. I also included a digital recording (which is allowed only for orchestral works and multi-voice anthems). I stuffed it in a manila envelope, mailed it off, and tried not to get my hopes up.
Award of Merit.
Did my edits change the substance or suitability of the piece? Not really. But according to one musician “in the know,” judges for the annual submissions can change from year to year. As I said, I would never recommend that a musician should resubmit a piece to the same competition two years in a row, but I had an exceptional motivation and desire regarding this piece, so I submitted it against my better logical judgment.
I’m not sure if there is a moral to this particular story, but I do know that David’s hymn is awesome. You can hear it at this year’s Church Music Festival on Temple Square. It’s on Valentine’s Day this year – February 14, 2014 at 7:30 pm. I’ll be there (weather permitting), so catch me and say hello if you attend.
And remember that this year’s submissions close March 31. Let’s make some more great new music for use in the Church.