Award-Winning Composition by CSU School of Music Undergrad Joshua Estok World Premieres Friday at CWRU's Maltz Performing Arts Center
Joshua Estok, undergraduate student at Cleveland State University’s School of Music, had his original work “A Jelly-Fish” world premiered by Case Western Reserve University’s Concert Choir at the “Choral Spectrum” concert on Friday, February 17 at 7 p.m. at CWRU’s Maltz Performing Arts Center.
Estok was the winner of the 2022 Choral Composition Contest held by the Case Western Reserve University Department of Music. The annual award is bestowed upon a young composer enrolled at an Ohio college/university who has written and submitted a musical composition for the Case Concert Choir. Students between ages 18 and 25 are eligible for the competition.
“A Jelly-Fish” was selected as by a panel of judges from “numerous compelling entries,” according to the CWRU Department of Music. Estok is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Composition and a Bachelor of Dance at CSU and has also studied varied electronic and computer music works, multimedia, and fully synthesized works.
The special concert featured the CWRU Concert Choir, University Chorale, and The Case Men’s Glee Club. Each ensemble performed its own set, with the concert culminating in a combined ensemble performance. This concert was a part of the Maltz Performing Arts Center’s Silver Hall Concert Series. In case you missed, we scored you a front-row seat for this exquisite piece:
Inspiration Meets Vulnerability
Estok drew inspiration for his award-winning piece from the poem A Jelly-Fish by Marianne Moore.
"It just really spoke to me on a number of levels," Estok said. "It deals with concepts in a natural way and I liked the imagery of the ocean that it evoked. The spirit addresses wants versus needs and how you let go and deal with things without succumbing to dispair. The text lent itself to inspiring the theme of the music."
Moore was widely recognized for her work with the Bollingen prize, a National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize before her passing in 1972. Estok, it seems, felt similarly to poet William Carlos Willams about Moore's work. Willams' recalled her work capturing "the swirl of great events." Estok called Moore's work "inspiring and evocative."
Estok, who graduates from CSU after the Fall 2023 Semester, said he "received email from Director of Choirs at CWRU confirming that I had won the competition" and it included "feedback from all the judges about the piece."
With a small delegation family and friends who are coming to the Friday concert, his anticipation is running expectedly high.
"I am very excited," Estok related. "It's a little scary having a piece performed by so many people, and this is the first time having a piece performed by anyone who I didn't specifically pick from CSU to perform work of mine. So, there's definitely some vulnerability and nerves in putting [my work] out there like this. I hope that people like it."
What's next for Estok after graduation? "That's a good question," the composer and dancer replied with a smile.
"I am looking at options now, but would very much like to continue what I'm doing in a sense, composing and dancing, and to integrate that. One of my main goals is to write new musical works of dance. This is definitely on the 'goals' list for me. We will see what happens."