ASU forensics team wins 3rd national title in 4 years; senior wins impromptu speaking championship

April 21, 2017

It was a strong weekend for Sun Devils at the National Forensics Association Nationals last weekend: Arizona State University senior Kohinoor Singh Gill placed first in the Impromptu Speaking competition, and an ASU team won first place in the President's Division II Sweepstakes contest.

The team featured Gill, junior Abbey Toye and sophomore Sachin Kumar. It was the forensics team's third national title in four years. ASU forensics champions ASU junior Abbey Toye, senior Kohinoor Gill center) and sophomore Sachin Kumar won first place in the President's Division II Sweepstakes contest at last weekend's National Forensics Association Nationals. Photo by Adam Symonds Download Full Image

Gill bested 175 other competitors over seven rounds of competition to claim the Impromptu title. He also placed third in Extemporaneous Speaking (151 entries), tied for seventh in Informative Speaking (146 entries) and tied for 13th in Rhetorical Criticism (105 entries). Finally, he competed in two events that did not reach elimination rounds: Duo Interpretation and After Dinner Speaking.All told, his performances in six separate events earned him 10th place out of more than 504 students competing at the tournament.

Toye qualified three events to the tournament: Prose Interpretation, Persuasion and Dramatic Interpretation. She qualified her Prose Interpretation to the Octafinal round, finishing tied for 25th (198 entries).

Kumar rounded out the three-person team at NFA, having qualified five events to the tournament: Duo Interpretation (with Gill), Informative, Impromptu, Extemporaneous and After Dinner Speaking. While none of these performances qualified Kumar for the elimination rounds, they were good enough to earn him 93rd place overall.

Finally, the team placed 12th in the Overall Sweepstakes award, quite the feat for a team of just three students. While the President’s Division II Sweepstakes Award earned by the team marks the highest overall quality performance from a team with less than 25 speech entries at the tournament, in the Overall Sweepstakes division there is no cap on entries. In this division, ASU’s 14 events were competing for cumulative scores with schools that had hundreds of speech entries. 

NFA Nationals is hosted each year by the National Forensics Association. The tournament lasted five days, with rounds beginning April 13 and ending April 17. This year’s tournament was held at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and 102 colleges and universities competed.

Written by Adam Symonds, ASU Forensics Team director 

ASU student wins carillon composition contest

April 21, 2017

Cameron Robello, a senior majoring in music composition and theory in the Herberger School of music, has won the 2017 Robert X. La Pat Carillon Composition Contest, sponsored by the ASU Carillon Society, with his composition titled "Lux Tintinnabulis."

The contest is underwritten by Laurie and Kenneth Polaski of Scottsdale in honor of La Pat, an award-winning Scottsdale composer. Download Full Image

Robello, from Mesa, Arizona, will receive a $250 cash prize. He said that in approaching composing a work for the 258-bell Symphonic Carillon, he both “listened and played. 

With research, including a fair amount of listening to carillon music and playing ASU’s carillon, I picked up on the shimmery, shining timbral elements in the bells that I thought carried potential to support an entire piece. 

“The most significant (and I think relevant) challenge for any composition, at least as it stands for my composing process, is purpose... the ‘why am I writing this’ question. My purpose with most of my recent work revolves around drawing out and making audible the sonic characteristics inherent in the raw sound material at hand.

“Whatever I draw out of the instrument needs to be both relevant to the instrument or ensemble and completely unique. Otherwise, the piece could have been written for anything! In the case of 'Lux Tintinnabulis,' the result must be sensitive to the sound of the carillon.“

Judges in the contest were University Carillonneurs William Swayze and Kevin Snow, and Jody Rockmaker, professor of music composition and theory. Rockmaker said, “Lux Tintinnabulis, creates interesting harmonies and sonic possibilities. The ideas are simply stated at the opening and evolve in convincing ways through the piece. I find it has a pleasing and satisfying form. The music is presented in a manner that promises free performance and interpretation.”

Robello is a classical guitarist and also performs on his laptop.

The 258-bell Symphonic Carillon was a gift to the university in 1966 from Associated Students of ASU. It is a memorial to those who gave their lives in service to their country. For more information send an e-mail to