The 2013 Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition finals were held Friday, April 11, with winners hailing from four different countries. An expert panel of judges comprised of experimental performance artist Laurie Anderson; composer, performer and educator, David Wessel; and electronic musician and sound designer Richard Devine evaluated the 19 inventors on musicality, design and engineering. In addition, three People’s Choice awards were handed out -- Best Performance, Best Instrument and Most Unusual Instrument.
First place went to Hans Leeuw and his Electrumpet. Onyx Ashanti, performing with his Beatjazz Exo-Voice Prothesis, came in second and Merche Blasco with Espongina, third. The People’s Choice awards went to Onyx Ashanti (best performance), Roland Lamb (best instrument) and Merche Blasco (most unusual instrument).
Overall winner Hans Leeuw was considered one of Holland’s top jazz and improvised musicians even before he designed the Electrumpet. Most notably, he is the leader of Tetzepi, a Dutch 14-piece Big Band. In addition, Hans teaches at the Utrecht School for the Arts and is on the faculty of the Technical University, Eindhoven where he coaches projects on the design of new musical instruments.
Onyx Ashanti, who captured second place and the People’s Choice award for best performance, hails from Germany. He bills himself as a combination of a sci-fi obsessed electronic jazz artist and a futurologist instrument inventor. Ashanti developed his one of a kind instrument, the Beatjazz Prosthetic Exo-voice, to complement Beatjazz, the completely live, improvised form of electronic music he performs.
Third place and People’s Choice most unusual instrument winner Merche Blasco was trained as a telecommunications engineer, but ultimately followed her passion of music, video and performance. As Burbuja, her alter ego, she has composed music to accompany many international artists and performers and has toured extensively in Europe and the U.S.
Roland Lamb’s Seaboard won People’s Choice best instrument, although his path to instrument development has been unusual. He went from practicing Zen Buddhism in Japan to Harvard, where he graduated with a degree in classical Chinese and philosophy. After receiving a Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarship, he went to the Royal College of Art to pursue a master’s degree in design products. While there, he developed an award-winning approach to building three-dimensional pressure-sensing interfaces which became the basis for ROLI, his start-up that produces the Seaboard.
In total, $10,000 in cash prizes were awarded and presented by Tech alumnus Richard Guthman in honor of his musician wife, Margaret. The event is considered a hotbed for musicians and artists who are pushing the boundaries of music performance. Wired.com has called it the “X-Prize for music,” and contestants have likened it to a TED Conference for new musical instrument designers.
About the Georgia Tech School of Music and the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology
Combining transdisciplinary research and technology with the art and tradition of music, the Georgia Tech School of Music and the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology offer mind-expanding performances and exhibitions; a leading graduate degree program in music technology; and a collaborative framework for students, researchers, government agencies and industry partners to transform the way we listen to, create and perform music.