Musical Composition Contest


$2,500 Award Winner

Matthew Rafferty

Tennessee, United States

Violin Medley

(excerpts from pp. 427-428 of Forever Gentleman)

The music was as pure and as powerful as his first encounter.  He recognized the piece: Mozart’s Ruhe Sanft.  How was it possible that she was playing it?  As a young child, he remembered his mother had often sung it to him as a lullaby when she was putting him to bed.   He had never before heard the solo melody played by violin.   Memories of his dear mother and the powerful love she had for him came flooding back.

Hearing the beautiful familiar melody compelled Nathan to steal a glance into the doorway of the Sun Room; he had not intended to venture so far.  She was turned away from him, on the far side of the room, facing the morning sun pouring in from the window as her bow moved gracefully upon the tight strings of the violin.  He remembered her well from before, when she had been dressed in white, her hair down.  Today, the sun radiated through the windows, causing her profile to be darkened from Nathan’s view.

Not wanting to be seen, Nathan remained just outside the Sun Room in the hallway, where he would not intrude on her privacy.  After completing Ruhe Sanft, she continued with Mendelssohn’s Elias/Elijah Soprano Aria.  She is only performing soprano arias—in homage to my mother.  They were all melodies he had heard his mother sing.  She must know that I am here!

Nathan silently walked over to the doorway again and stared at her.  He was shocked to see her face turned, looking his way contentedly as she played.  She seemed to have been expecting him.  Now exposed, he quietly entered the room and sat on a chair near the room’s entrance.  She continued the Mendelssohn Aria, then started on Paisiello’s “Cavatina for Nina.”

When she finally lowered the bow, she walked toward Nathan with a face glowing with delight.  She was wearing a light green chiffon dress, her hair up in her customary fashion, with golden plaited braids falling to her waist.

Matthew Rafferty

Tennessee, United States

Matthew’s music “brings folks together, so they can be delighted and challenged and puzzled and amused, all at once.”  From Baltimore, Maryland, Rafferty works in a variety of media, writing for musicians and ensembles and sound art installations of all sizes and shapes.  His pieces have been performed around the US and Europe.

He graduated from Vanderbilt University last year, where he studied composition with Michael Slayton, Stan Link, Michael Rose, and Michael Kurek.  He also studied composition in Vienna with Gabriele Proy and Nancy van de Vate.  He was the recipient of the 2017 Calhoun Composition Award.  Matt studied conducting with Robin Fountain and conducted the Vanderbilt Symphony Orchestra and the Vanderbilt Ballet Orchestra.  He is the music director of the Vanderbilt Ballet. Matt currently lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee.  His website is under construction, but for now you can hear a few of his pieces on Soundcloud: