Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Musings on Deadlines, Rules, and Early Birds

...from Berkeley

I haven't forgotten that I promised to write about the source of La Traviata--and I will get to that very, very soon.... But for today, I have instead a somewhat timely, short post musing about deadlines, early birds and eleventh hour applications.

It's so tempting to wait until the last minute for a competition or deadline. I've been known to do that myself on many the occasion.  However, having sat on both sides I can tell you that it does NOT serve anyone well to come in just under the wire with an entry or submission.

Certainly, if you find out about a competition at the last minute, it's better to apply than not, as if you don't apply you have no chances of winning at all. Just so, applying too early and half-baked, i.e., before your submission is fully ready, serves no one, of course. In many cases, it really doesn't matter if you're early or middle-ish, in terms of timing--and sometimes coming in at the beginning of a submission window means being drowned by the initial flood of applications. And there are even times when as long as you make it by 1 minute before a deadline, you're cool as the proverbial cucumber.

But there are times when that's not going to be the case.

Sometimes the judges' capacity to lavish attention on your entry may wane as they get to later and later entries.  And sometimes, with online applications, the server may jam up or get overwhelmed and you'll miss the cutoff point entirely.You never know when one of these might happen.

So is it worth the risk? You make the call...

A case in point: this season, Ensemble for These Times started our first annual call for scores, as we want to be able to showcase more and more varied compositional voices than simply the composers we already know.  We set up a 2-month window for submissions, figuring that we were a small West Coast group and that it would take awhile for word to spread.

Not so....

There is an immense pool of compositional talent all over the world!  We were amazed and humbled at the sheer volume of scores that flooded in to us. After 5-6 weeks we had received 200 scores (yes, Virginia, you read that correctly), and were literally drowning in music.  We did not have the capacity to sort through any more scores between now and when we had promised to announce the winners, in June--and, indeed, barely had the capacity to sort through what we'd received..

So we very apologetically had to close the submission window 2 weeks early, asking those composers who had still wanted to submit a score but had not yet done so to come back for our 2nd annual call for scores... And you can bet that the window for submissions will be tighter next time around, as we have learned from this year.

We had already started to sort through some of the earliest scores to come in, and those got our longest attention.

As we continue to sort through the submissions, we have noticed two things:
1) The incredible amount of talent that's around!
2) Many folks don't follow/ pay attention to the rules. Sometimes there's a good reason (they don't have what we need, but think we might still be interested in what they're doing. In those cases, a little note telling us what's going on for the extenuating circumstances is appreciated and keeps us from rejecting something out of hand.But not everyone is like us; some competitions are looking for a reason, any reason, to reject you and narrow the field.).

We are very excited about what we've seen thus far, and can't wait to finish sorting through all the marvelous works that have come our way.  We'll announce the winners in June...so stay posted.

The moral of the story: if in doubt, sometimes the early bird does have a better chance at the worm. With competition being so stiff in today's world, wouldn't you rather be that person with the better chance?

What I'm reading: Grayling by Karen Cushman; Alistair Grim's Odd Antiquaticum, more wonderful Deborah Crombie mysteries

What I'm listening to: Handel and Caldara cantatas, for a concert in April

What I'm studying: "Do not utter a word, Anatol" (a new-for-me aria from Barber's Vanessa); songs by Hans Winterberg for May and June.
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