Masterprize Semi-Finalist: Carter Pann

Carter Pann
Carter Pann
photo by Carolyn Lukancic

Carter Pann’s nine-minute Slalom depicts the awesome thrill and beauty of downhill skiing at Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The American Composers Orchestra read the work in the summer of 1998 as part of their Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions and the Haddonfield Symphony premiered it in March 1999. Slalom is published by Theodore Presser.

“When I have the dough, I go downhill skiing at Steamboat Springs,” Pann explained. “I can’t do it very frequently, but I’ve been doing it for about twelve or thirteen years. I started to bring a Walkman up on the slopes to listen to my favorite tunes: the Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances, Shostakovitch 10th Symphony, American in Paris, Cuban Overture. It sort of happened that I was on a big orchestral writing kick. I wanted to produce a barn-stormer, presto throughout.” He decided to write an orchestral piece that would depict the thrill of downhill skiing. Pann tried to convey not only the speed of skiing, but also the beauty of the scenery. He describes it as “a ten-minute bit of movie music – it’s very cinematic.”

Of course, Pann is pleased to be one of the Masterprize semifinalists. In general, however, his interest in competitions waxes and wanes. “It’s one way to supplement an income,” he posited. “Because it has the potential to give me some cash, I sometimes apply ravenously. Then [there will be] a month of nothing. They come in waves.” He also likes the opportunity for performance that competitions provide. “It’s a way to get a performance on a subscription concert [when you’re not] connected to a school or on a board somewhere.”

The 28-year-old Pann received his M.M. in composition from the University of Michigan, where he studied with William Bolcom, William Albright, and Bright Sheng. Honors in composition include the K. Serocki Competition for his Piano Concerto (premiered by the Polish Radio Symphony in Lutoslawski Hall, Warsaw), first prizes in the Zoltan Kodály and Francois d’Albert Concours Internationales de Composition, a concerto commission for clarinetist Richard Stoltzman (premiered in Carnegie Hall), a Charles Ives Scholarship from the Academy of Arts and Letters and four ASCAP composer awards. His works have been performed in the United States and Europe.

In February of 2000, four of his orchestral works were released on Naxos’ 21st-Century American Classics series. His Clarinet Concerto, originally commissioned by the New York Youth Symphony, will be recorded by Stoltzman and the Seattle Symphony in July 2001 and released on MMC. He is currently working on a concerto for the Ying Quartet and orchestra entitled Love Letters, and has plans to return to school to begin work on a doctorate in the fall of 2001.