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Harbinson composition wins national award

Harbinson27_t.jpgBOONE—The title of an award-winning composition by Bill Harbinson could have been “Several Months of Thursdays,” because he wrote the overture for symphonic orchestra on Thursday mornings for about three or four months.


Listen to a sound file of “Kallalanta” performed by the Appalachian Symphony Orchestra. (Appalachian photo by University Photographer Mike Rominger)

The composition, however, is titled “Kallalanta,” and it has won the Merle J. Isaac Senior Composition Contest. The national contest is sponsored by the American String Teachers Association. It encourages the composition, publication and performance of music of quality for the benefit of school orchestra programs.

Harbinson is dean of Appalachian State University’s Mariam Cannon Hayes School of Music. A prolific composer, Harbinson sets aside his administrative duties for a few hours every Thursday morning to compose.

“Kallalanta” was written for Mariam Cannon Hayes. It takes its name from Hayes’ summer home in Blowing Rock. It was premiered in December by the Appalachian Symphony Orchestra.

“When I was writing this piece for Mariam, I also thought I would submit it to the competition,” Harbinson said. “I was really pleased when that worked.”

This is the third time Harbinson has submitted one of his works to the contest. A few years ago, he was a finalist in the competition. “Being in the finals encouraged me to submit to the contest again,” he said.

When composing the overture, Harbinson said he wanted a work that conveyed a diversity of moods and character. “Mrs. Hayes is a multi-faceted woman: business leader, philanthropist and family matriarch. ‘Kallalanta’ reflects those characteristics and is at various times serene, romantic, energetic and playful.”

The composition was one of several selected by a screening committee to be performed by an orchestra for a final panel of judges.

In addition to a cash award, Harbinson will receive assistance in publishing the composition.

One of Harbinson’s recent works has been accepted for publication by Alfred Publishing Company in 2008. Titled “Evensong,” the composition for band is dedicated to his twin granddaughters who were born in April.