The John Ness Beck Foundation seeks to “encourage and promote the writing of traditional sacred music.” One of the means through which they encourage this is through an annual program “which recognizes current composers of traditional sacred choral music by selecting two compositions yearly which best exemplify the type of writing that fit the criteria set forth by John Beck.” The web site of the foundation explains how the program is set up:
Compositions are nominated by a panel of seven judges comprised of composers, music store retailers and university music instructors, each panelist suggesting one to five compositions for consideration. (No composer may nominate or vote on their own composition.) The first place award is $5,000.00 and the second place recipient receives $3,000.00.
What is very interesting is that an examination of the award recipients for the last several years reveals a common theme:
First Place: Dan Forrest “The King of Love My Shepard Is” (Beckenhorst Press, Inc.)
Second Place: John Rutter “Psalm 150” (Collegium Music Publications)
First Place Published: Howard Helvey “Joshua fit de Battle of Jericho” and “Love Came Down at Christmas” (Yes a tie.)
Second Place Published: Joe Martin “Pieta”
First Place Unpublished: Stephen Main “Wonder Tidings”
Second Place Unpublished: Gregory Kufchak “Still, Still with Thee”
First Place Unpublished: Jess Turner “All This Night”
Second Place Unpublished: David Giardinere “Midnight Clear” HMC2117
First Place Published: Lloyd Larson “Beautiful Savior” BPI 1766
Second Place Published: Joan Pinkston “Lord Jesus, Think on Me” JH 572
First Place Published: Molly Ijames “Song of Bethlehem”
Second Place Published: Dan Forrest “A Cradle Carol”
First Place Unpublished: Chris Collins
Second Place Unpublished: Sara Morris
What is interesting to note is that in the past 5 years, four first places and three second places have been awarded to graduates of Bob Jones University. In particular, BJU grads swept all four awards this past year!
But what is even more important to note is that all of these composers were students of Joan J. Pinkston, long-time theory/composition faculty member of BJU. Mrs. Pinkston, well-known for her excellent composition style, is characterized by sweetness, humility, and integrity. She has clearly had an significant impact upon the conservative sacred music composers of the future.
Not only has Mrs. Pinkston produced some excellent music and fine composers, but she also was the primary editor for the excellent hymnal, Hymns of Grace and Glory.
Congratulations to the Composition Department of Bob Jones University, and particularly to Joan J. Pinkston, for this legacy of fine sacred choral work. Truly a gift to Christ’s Church.