Princeton University Concerts

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Engaging with Music

It all started in February 2015, when over one hundred undergraduate and graduate students signed up for the first ever Creative Reactions Writing Contest. Conceived by the Student Ambassadors of Princeton University Concerts, this writing contest gave students a free ticket to attend a Princeton University Concert in the legendary Alexander Hall, in return for a creative written response to the performance—and a chance to win a cash prize. The wonderfully diverse group of submissions brought together judges from many corners of the Princeton community, including professors in the Creative Writing Program and Music Department, the owner of Labyrinth Bookstore, and long-standing community audience members.

The enthusiastic response to this novel initiative made clear that students were eager to extend the concert experience beyond the walls of Alexander Hall, and to share their passion for or curiosity about music with the community at large. Princeton University Concerts (PUC) has developed the Creative Reactions Program in order to provide such an opportunity to all Princeton University students. While continuing the Creative Reactions Contest on an annual basis, now expanded to include other art forms, this program will also present various other means through which students will be able to harness their creative talents in their engagement with music on campus. This includes a student-designed and student-written season brochure, opportunities for writing to be included in printed programs, and more.

The Creative Reactions Contest, dedicated to the memory of Vera Sharpe Kohn

Hosted by the Student Ambassadors of Princeton University Concerts

Princeton University Concerts (“PUC”) is pleased to announce the 2018–19 season Creative Reactions Contest - a contest designed to capture the impact of classical music, as perceived by Princeton University students. This year’s contest is inspired by Artist-in-Residence Gustavo Dudamel and his dedication to revolutionizing music as a platform for individual, societal, and world change. The Maestro has set themes for his residency including “Art and Faith,” “Art and Nature,” and “Art and Social Change,” which will be explored and enlivened through a series of concerts, panel discussions, and art exhibits. This year, students are asked to consider any of these three themes in their written or visual art submissions using music as one point of reference. 

The contest has two categories: creative writing and visual arts. In both categories, one $1000 prize (and up to three possible honorable mentions) will be awarded to a Princeton University student who submits the most thoughtful and compelling response to the relationships between Art (broadly conceived) and Faith, Nature, or Social Change. While attending a concert is not mandatory in this year’s contest, students are highly encouraged to attend a live classical music performance and other residency events as they continue to think about these themes. All students who have submitted responses will receive VIP tickets to hear Maestro Dudamel conduct the Princeton University Orchestra and Glee Club on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at the Trenton War Memorial and will be put on a first-come, first-served waiting list for a free ticket to another PUC event this season.




2018 Contest

To see the winning submissions, click here


First Prize Winner ($500)

Samuel Sebastian Cox ’18 - "Untitled" inspired by the Tenebrae Choir


First Prize Winner ($500)

Sang Lee ’18 - "A Couple of Fiddles" inspired by "Shostakovich and the Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy"

Honorable Mentions ($100)

Diana Chao '21 - “Gaita (Gal)ega,” inspired by gaita player Cristina Pato
Xin Rong Chua GS -  “Interlude,” inspired by "Shostakovich and the Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy"
Jason Molesky GS  - “Tempest” inspired by violinist Jennifer Koh

2017 Contest

First Prize Winners ($500)

Anna Leader ’18 "love songs between balconies" inspired by Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton
David Ting '17, "El barrio(lage) desconocido inspired by pianist violinist Augustin Hadelich & guitarist Pablo Sáinz-Villegas

Honorable Mentions ($125)

Isabella Bosetti ’18 - “Translation/Aphasia, inspired by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Xin Chua GS -  “The Future Age,” inspired by the Takács String Quartet
Kirit Limperis ’19 - “With the Percussionist,” inspired by percussionist Colin Currie

2016 Contest

First Prize Winners ($500)

Anna Leader ’18,  "Untitled," inspired by the Arcanto String Quartet
David Ting '17,  "Journey Between Worlds," inspired by pianist David Greilsammer

Second Prize Winners ($250)

Magdalena Collum ’18, “Ritual, in four parts,” inspired by pianist Igor Levit
Emily Tu ’16, “Voice,” inspired by pianist Igor Levit

2015 Contest

First Prize Winner

Susannah Sharpless ’15, "Space and Time," inspired by violinist Stefan Jackiw and pianist Anna Polonsky

Second Prize Winners

Trevor Klee ’15, “Untitled,” inspired by pianist Marc-André Hamelin
Lucas Mazzotti ’17, “Untitled,” inspired by the Brentano String Quartet and Joyce DiDonato

Honorable Mention

Benjamin Goodman ‘17, “Piety,” inspired by pianist Marc-André Hamelin
Rachel Stone ‘17, “In B-flat,” inspired by Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” played by violinist Stefan Jackiw and Anna Polonsky