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The American Prize
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JAY WHITE, eight-year veteran of the Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble, CHANTICLEER, and a distinguished member of the judging panel for The American Prize, shares an evaluation he wrote for a finalist for The American Prize in Vocal Performance—Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards.

Although judges have a great deal of leeway about the structure and length of the evaluations they provide (some are shorter, some may be longer) the paragraphs below represent a sample of the quality of evaluation we aspire to provide to every contestant who reaches Finalist status or higher in the competitions of The American Prize.

(Please note that judges' assignments are rotated annually, based on their qualifications, areas of interest, years of service and availability for a particular stage of the process.)

Here is what Dr. White wrote about one opera contestant. (The name of the vocalist has, of course, been removed.)

A warm, resonant, and strong sound.
This is a well-produced tone! Very grounded and easy.
X has a strength to his sound that is very much based on resonance and a strong control of breath energy. There is no pushing to his tone and his upper range is well managed.

His lower range is well set within his body.
He has a good sense of textual phrasing.
His command of languages is spot on! He seems very at ease with French especially. (His strong character work here helped tremendously).
While I think his Rossini was not the strongest of his submissions, I did very much enjoy the attention he placed into his character (he seems to be having difficulty with managing his breath here).

X is a fine performer and a delight to listen to. His reverberant, warm voice is produced with such ease as to draw you in to hear every nuance. He has an intensity to his delivery that makes one want to see and hear just what he is to do next.
Dr. Jay White
Associate Professor of Voice
Hugh A. Glauser School of Music
Kent State University
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Lorin Hollander
The American Prize PIANO CONCERTO contest now honors the artistry of American pianist, LORIN HOLLANDER.

The legendary American pianist, LORIN HOLLANDER, a longtime personal friend of David Katz, chief judge of The American Prize, has graciously agree to allow The American Prize to name The American Prize piano concerto contest in his honor.

The LORIN HOLLANDER AWARD celebrates the artistry of one of the greatest pianists of his generation.

DEADLINE for APPLICATIONS: Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lorin Hollander, brilliant artist, educator and philosopher, has appeared as guest soloist with virtually every major symphony orchestra in the world and is a veteran of over 2,500 performances across the globe. The American Prize is delighted to share the legacy of this great musician through the re-naming of its annual award for Piano Concerto Performance.

Details about the Lorin Hollander Award may be found here: http://www.theamericanprize.org/pianoperfconcerto.html

The postmark deadline for piano applications to The American Prize national nonprofit contests in the Performing Arts is Tuesday, March 15, 2016. There is no live competition. The American Prize evaluates recorded performances only. See the website for details.
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Can't reach a new page or 2016 application? Your computer has cached an older version. Simply refresh (click on the curved arrow in your address bar, if there is one) to get to the new pages.

Still having trouble? Email us at theamericanprize@gmail.com and we will email you the application you need. Application fees for 2016 have NOT increased.

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Links below take you to the
current contest page on our site:

FINAL (extended) DEADLINE for these contests:
TUES, MARCH 15, 2016


COMPOSERS (all categories)
PIANISTS (solo & concerto)
CHAMBER ENSEMBLES
INSTRUMENTAL SOLOISTS (new contest)
CLASSICAL VOCALISTS (art song & opera)
CHICAGO ORATORIO AWARD (Brahms Requiem)

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FINAL (extended) DEADLINE for these contests:
TUES, MAY 10, 2016


CONDUCTORS (all categories)
ENSEMBLES (all categories)
AMERICAN MUSIC (new contest)
ORCHESTRAL PROGRAMMING
STAGE DIRECTORS
ARTS MARKETING

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The American Prize is proud to announce the winner and runners-up of The American Prize in Directing, 2015. Congratulations! All finalists receive written evaluations from a member of The American Prize judging panel.

Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found elsewhere on this blog.

Please make us aware of any misprints: theamericanprize@gmail.com

The American Prize in Directing

The American Prize winner:
Stephen Carr—Eastman School of Music   Rochester, NY
    for Dialogues of the Carmelites

Stephen Carr
Currently an Assistant Professor of Opera at Eastman, Carr’s work as a director has encompassed nearly all genres of lyric theatre, with companies including Palm Beach Opera, Washington National Opera, Opera North, Ohio Light Opera, and Center City Opera of Philadelphia. Stephen has directed recent Eastman productions of She Loves Me, Albert Herring, and Dialogues of the Carmelites, which the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle hailed as “nothing short of masterful, from conception to execution.”

Carr’s performance credits include New York and international productions of Ragtime, Cabaret (London), Jesus Christ Superstar (European Tour), and The Scarlet Pimpernel. He trained at the Eastman School of Music, Royal Academy of Music in London, and the Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. He has served on the faculties of the Interlochen Arts Institute and the Senzoku Gakuen Conservatory in Tokyo, where he helped build one of the few successful undergraduate musical theatre programs in Asia.


2nd Place (there was a tie):
George Cederquist—Pittsburgh Opera   Pittsburgh, PA 
    for Dark Sisters (Muhly)

George Cederquist
George Cederquist has directed new productions and opera scenes with Chicago Fringe Opera (where he is an ensemble member), Chautauqua Opera, Roosevelt University, the Bay View Music Festival, and Chicago Opera Vanguard. George was the Resident Artist Stage Director at Pittsburgh Opera in 2014, the Apprentice Stage Director at the Merola Opera Program in 2013 and a winner of Opera America’s Director-Designer competition. George was one of ten Americans to receive the 2011-12 German Chancellor Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the first Stage Director ever to win this prestigious award. During his fellowship in Germany, George served as a Regieassistent at the Staatstheater Darmstadt. George’s training includes an MFA in Directing from Northwestern University, a BA in Theatre Studies and English from Yale University, and a Directing Fellowship at Wolf Trap Opera.


2nd Place (there was a tie):
Daniel B. Ellis—Theatre in the Round  
Minneapolis, MN 
    for The Beaux' Stratagem

Daniel B. Ellis
Stage Director Daniel Ellis continues to garner wide attention for developing new work with renowned artists while bringing innovative theater and opera to wider audiences.   A graduate of The New School for Drama in New York City, Daniel was awarded the 3rd Place award in the American Prize in Directing 2014 Competition for his production of Project Opera’s Griffelkin.  Twin Cities’ Lavender Magazine recently named his production of The Beaux’ Stratagem Best of 2014 and the Winnipeg Fringe and Edmonton International Fringe Festivals awarded him the 2011 Best of Fest Award for his co-directed production of Scarlet Woman.  Daniel served as an Artist in Residence for the Minnesota Opera 2012-2014 seasons and currently serves on the production staff at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Palm Beach Opera as an Assistant Director.  He is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and a member of AGMA.  www.danielbellis.weebly.com 


3rd Place:
Tania Arazi Coambs—Indiana University of Pennsylvania   Indiana, PA
    for The Tender Land

Tania Arazi Coambs
Born in Cumaná, Venezuela, Tania Arazi Coambs is a passionate and versatile stage director, performer, and writer. As a stage director, Tania’s recent directing projects include The Tender Land (second place winner of the 2015 American Prize opera production competition), Trouble in Tahiti, and Signor Deluso at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as well as workshopping and directing scenes from her own opera, Catatumbo, based on her own libretto and composed by Griffin Candey at the University of Illinois.  Other previous directing projects include productions of Stop Kiss, Roméo et Juliette, Feeding the Moonfish, The Informer, Brundibár, A Canoe on the Lake, and co-director of Don Giovanni.  As a singer, Tania was the 2015 winner of the American Prize Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award for art song, and was also one of the recipients of the 2015 American Prize Chicago Music Theater Award and made her début at Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall last April singing the music of Rogers and Hammerstein.  Tania is currently a member of the 2015-2016 Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation Observership Class and is doctoral candidate in Vocal Performance and Literature with a minor concentration in Stage Direction at the University of Illinois.  http://www.taniaarazicoambs.com/

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Maestro Vytautas Marijosius
The American Prize is proud to announce the winners and runners-up of The American Prize in Orchestral Programming—Maestro Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award, 2015. Awards were made in three divisions this year: college/university orchestras, community orchestras and youth orchestras. All the results are below.

Please make us aware of any misprints by emailing: theamericanprize@gmail.com

For nearly thirty five years Director of Orchestral Activities at the Hartt School of Music of the University of Hartford, Vytautas Marijosius programmed concerts that were alive in every sense—not programming for novelty’s sake, nor neglecting the great masters of the past—but always bringing to the awareness of his students and his audiences great composers of the current time and potential masters of the future. I believe he would be pleased in different ways with each of this year's honorees." —DK

For more about Maestro Marijosius, please visit the companion blog
here.

The American Prize in Orchestral Programming
Maestro Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award
—College/University Orchestra Division 

The American Prize Winner:Tian Hui Ng   South Hadley, MA
   Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra

Tian Hui Ng
The Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra (MHSO) is one of the largest musical groups on campus. Led by their conductor Ng Tian Hui, the group reflects the diversity of the college's community, with musicians from the five colleges and the Pioneer Valley, in addition to students, faculty and staff from Mount Holyoke College. Students who perform in the Orchestra might be majors in Music or Biology, English or International Relations, philosophy or mathematics. They are drawn by the collective desire to be an active participant in creating great beauty in the realm of sound.

The orchestra is particularly proud of its second prize in the 2014 American Prize for Orchestral Programming, and acknowledged for its fine work by grants from the Massachusetts Arts Council, Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, National Arts Council of Singapore, the Singapore International Foundation, Women’s Philharmonic and WomenArts in acknowledgement of its creative and engaging programming.


2nd Place:
Chris Younghoon Kim   Ithaca, NY
   Cornell Chamber Orchestra
Chris Younghoon Kim
Cornell Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Chris Younghoon Kim, present multiple concerts during each academic school year.  The membership of the orchestra is formed from students of all colleges and departments across the university-wide community.  It is the only non-music major orchestra to win first place among collegiate orchestras the ASCAP award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary music during the 2008-2009 season. It has won the Adventurous awards for 6 years in a row from 2008-2014. For the last seven seasons Cornell Orchestras have been jointly producing the Ithaca International conducting masterclasses with Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra.


3rd Place:
Michael Griffith   Laramie, WY
    University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra
Michael Griffith
Now in his 26th year as Conductor of the University of Wyoming Symphony, Michael Griffith’s guest conducting ranges from NY’s Times Square to Rio de Janeiro; locally Denver’s Mercury Ensemble, Ft. Collins Symphony, Cheyenne Symphony, and Opera Fort Collins. With younger musicians he’s conducted ensembles in China, Canada, and across the US. He was a visiting professor at the Sibelius Academy and Shanghai University, twice elected a Top Ten Teacher by UW graduating classes, and taught UW’s London Semester. Past president of the Conductors Guild, he’s won an ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award. Broadcast performances include the Nigerian Broadcasting Company, CBC, Minnesota Public Radio, KUSF San Francisco, and Wyoming Public Television. Dr. Griffith inherited his musical talent from his grandmother, a leading soprano in the Vienna Folksoper. He grew up in Cleveland, studying oboe with Harvey McGuire and Robert Zupnic of The Cleveland Orchestra. His conducting teachers were Charles Bruck (Monteux School), Dennis Burkh (MSU), and Giora Bernstein (Colorado).



The American Prize in Orchestral Programming
Maestro Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award
—Community Orchestra Division 

The American Prize Winner:Michael Korn   Waltham, MA
    The Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra

Michael Korn
In just a few years  since immersing himself into conducting Michael Korn appeared on stage of Tsai Performance Center and Paramount Theater in Boston and amassed extensive repertoire ranging from works by Lully and Handel through the 21st century orchestral music by living composers.  American music advocate, he premiered in Boston works by many contemporary composers and performed Gaelic Symphony by Amy Beach and À Montevideo Symphony by Louis Moreau Gottschalk.  ??As an accompanist, Michael Korn collaborated with many outstanding Boston musicians and young talented performers alike.  He regularly teaches young students in orchestral settings and conducts Oliver Ames High School orchestras in Easton and Sharon Community Chamber Youth Orchestra.  In 2014 he directed 2014 senior S.E.M.S.B.A. Festival Orchestra in Massachusetts. ??Michael Korn is Music Director of Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra and Sharon Community Chamber Orchestra.


2nd Place:
Donald L. Appert   Vancouver, WA
    Clark College Symphony Orchestra, Jewish Community Orchestra

Donald L. Appert
Donald Appert has been Artistic Director and Conductor of the Jewish Community Orchestra of Portland, OR since 2012. He has guest conducted orchestras in Europe, Central America, Japan and Australia. Currently he is Music Director/Conductor of the Clark College Orchestra and a Professor of Music and Head of the Music Department at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. In addition he is the Music Director/Conductor of the Oregon Sinfonietta in Portland, Oregon.  He received The American Prize in Orchestral Programming—Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award in 2011 for his work with the Oregon Sinfonietta, an Honorable Mention in 2012, and 3rd Place in 2014. The Clark County (WA) Arts Commission awarded him the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award in 2014. He has received the ASCAPLUS Award numerous times. Videos of his conducting and his original compositions may be seen and heard via the Internet on his web site at www.maestroappert.com.



The American Prize in Orchestral Programming
Maestro Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award
—Youth Orchestra Division 

The American Prize Winner:Robert Boardman   South Bend, IN
    South Bend Youth Symphony Orchestra

Robert Boardman
Robert W. Boardman, a native of Ithaca, New York is currently Music Director and Conductor of the South Bend Youth Symphony Orchestras, and Artistic Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's webcast, "Life from Orchestra Hall." He has assisted Marin Alsop at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, and served as Associate Conductor for CAMI's worldwide tour of Howard Shore's "The Lord of the Rings Symphony." Boardman received the DMA of Orchestral Conducting from the University of Michigan in 2010 where he studied with Kenneth Kiesler. He has participated in dozens of workshops nationwide and been a participant in masterclasses with conductors Larry Rachleff, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Mazur, Gustav Meier, JoAnn Falletta, and many other fine pedagogues. 


2nd Place:
Allen Tinkham   Chicago, IL
   Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra

Allen Tinkham
Allen Tinkham is hailed by the Chicago Tribune as one of Chicago's most important "educators, mentors and inspirational guides in the training of tomorrow's orchestral professionals," working "wonders" in concerts performed at a "professional-level."  As Music Director of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, Tinkham has led them to critical acclaim on four continents, winning nine ASCAP Awards for the Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music.
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Recent guest appearances include the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Members of Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  He is on faculty at the New York Summer Music Festival and the Columbia College of Chicago and conducts all-state and other youth festival orchestras across the country, including the 2015 NAfME All-Northwest and All-Eastern orchestras.

Tinkham holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan. He began his career as an Apprentice Conductor of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra under Music Director James DePreist.

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Five American musicians have been chosen as Honored Artists of The American Prize, 2015, by the national nonprofit competitions in the performing arts.  Honored Artists are individuals who have proven themselves to be musicians of “sustained excellence" over a number of seasons as contestants in the competitions.

The American Prize competitions are unique in scope and structure, designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the United States, based on submitted recordings. The American Prize is presented annually in many areas of the performing arts and has awarded nearly $35,000 in prize money since its founding in 2010.

Additional information about the competitions may be found on the website: www.theamericanprize.org.

In 2014, Maestro David Katz, chief judge of The American Prize, expressed a hope for the competitions "to do more" to advance the art. The creation of the Honored Artist designation is one way the competition seeks to bring additional recognition to laureates it deems especially worthy.

Honored Artists will be highlighted in a separate section on The American Prize website and on the competition’s Facebook pages, will receive expanded listings on The American Prize blog, will be featured in individualized press releases sent to local, regional and national media, and receive a special, framed certificate. Honored Artists also receive an application fee waiver for a future competition.

CRITERIA (revised 2015): The American Prize Honored Artists must meet these criteria:
  • May be nominated by any member of The American Prize national judging panel.
  • Will have reached finalist status or higher and/or received an Honorable Mention or Special Judge's Certificate in at least three different competition years, which need not be consecutive.
  • Will have won The American Prize (first place) no more than one time in the past two years.
  • Will have consistently received exceptional evaluations in their chosen area of endeavor.
  • Will be honored during a season in which they are an active participant.
  • Accept the designation.
  • There is no minimum or maximum number that will be awarded each season.
Abraham R. Katz
"Honored Artists of The American Prize" are given in memory of David Katz’s father, Abraham R. Katz, a gifted amateur musician, who died in 1999.


The five Honored Artists of The American Prize for 2015 in alphabetical order are:

DONALD APPERT, conductor—Vancouver, WA

DONALD APPERT

2011—Winner: Orchestral Programming
2012—Finalist
2013—Runner-Up: Orchestra Performance
2014—Runner-Up: Orchestral Programming
2015—Runner-UP: Orchestral Programming

ROBERT BUTTS, conductor—Madison, NJ

ROBERT BUTTS
2010—Finalist
2011—Citation Recipient
2012—Runner-Up: Opera Conducting
2013—Runner-Up: Opera Conducting
2015—Finalist

PEGGY DETTWILER, conductor—Mansfield, PA

PEGGY DETTWILER
2011—Winner: Choral Performance
2011—Runner-Up: Choral Conducting
2013—Runner-Up: Choral Conducting
2013—Finalist: Choral Performance
2015—Finalist

JONATHAN HANDMAN, conductor—LaGrangeville, NY

JONATHAN HANDMAN
2011—Winner: Orchestra Performance (high school orchestra)
2012—Winner: Orchestra Performance (high school orchestra)
2013—Winner: Orchestra Performance (youth orchestra)
2014—Runner-Up: Orchestra Performance (youth and high school orchestra)
2015—Runner-Up: Orchestral Performance (youth and high school orchestra)

ROBERT WENDEL, composer—New York, NY

ROBERT WENDEL
2011—Finalist: orchestral composition
2014—Finalist: choral composition
2015—Finalist: choral composition

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Individual listings, including biographies of the artists, will be posted to The American Prize blog shortly.

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The American Prize is honored to announce the winner, runners-up and citation recipient of The American Prize in Conducting: Youth Orchestra Division, 2015. Congratulations!

All finalists receive written evaluations from a member of The American Prize judging panel.

Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found elsewhere on this blog.

Please make us aware of any misprints: theamericanprize@gmail.com

The American Prize in Conducting: Youth Orchestra Division, 2015.

The American Prize winner:
Allen Tinkham
    Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras    Chicago, IL

Allen Tinkham
Allen Tinkham is hailed by the Chicago Tribune as one of Chicago's most important "educators, mentors and inspirational guides in the training of tomorrow's orchestral professionals," working "wonders" in concerts performed at a "professional-level."  As Music Director of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, Tinkham has led them to critical acclaim on four continents, winning nine ASCAP Awards for the Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. Recent guest appearances include the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Members of Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  He is on faculty at the New York Summer Music Festival and the Columbia College of Chicago and conducts all-state and other youth festival orchestras across the country, including the 2015 NAfME All-Northwest and All-Eastern orchestras. Tinkham holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan. He began his career as an Apprentice Conductor of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra under Music Director James DePreist.


2nd Place:
Deanna Tham
    Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra    Boise, ID

Deanna Tham
Deanna Tham is currently the Music Director and conductor of the Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra in Boise, Idaho. She also conducts with Ballet Idaho and the Boise Philharmonic. Tham previously was cover conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra. She was also resident music director of the American Chamber Opera, based in Chicago, Illinois. Her work with the company has included a groundbreaking semi-staged production of Mendelssohn's oratorio, Elijah, and Mozart's Don Giovanni, staged in English. Additionally, Tham’s work with the National Music Festival has been presented on National Public Radio and American Public Media. ??Tham received her Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University. She received her Master of Music degree in conducting from Northwestern University studying with Dr. Mallory Thompson. She additionally has a Professional Studies Certificate in Orchestral Conducting from the Cleveland Institute of Music studying with Carl Topilow.


3rd Place:
Benjamin Firer
    Central Pennsylvania Youth Orchestra
    State College, PA

Benjamin Firer
Benjamin Firer is currently in his third season as Music Director and Conductor of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Orchestras the Juniata College Orchestra in Pennsylvania. He also directs the Penn State Campus Orchestra and serves as Assistant Conductor of the Penn State Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestras under the direction of Maestro Gerardo Edelstein. Benjamin holds a master’s degree from the Yale University School of Music where he was Conductor of the Yale Saybrook College Orchestra and served as Teaching Assistant for graduate music theory courses.  As a trombonist, Benjamin was the winner of the 2012 Woolsey Concerto Competition, the 2011 Yale Chamber Music Competition and a fellow at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.   He was a featured performer in Yale in New York series "De Profundis" at Carnegie Hall.  As founder of the Aries Chamber Ensemble, he was awarded the 2010 SUNY Thayer Fellowship in the Arts. Other conducting experiences include guest conducting at the National Music Festival, New Music New Haven and the Lake George Music Festival.  Benjamin was chosen as Assistant Conductor for l’Orchestra de la Francophonie in Montreal, Quebec for the Summer 2014 where he assisted Jean-Philippe Tremblay for six weeks of of orchestral concerts including a residency at Le Domaine Forget.


CAREER ENCOURAGEMENT CERTIFICATE:
Eric Meincke
    The Music Education Benefit Concert Orchestra
    Little Rock, AR

Eric Meincke
Eric Meincke is a senior at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.  He is the drum major of the Central marching band and plays trumpet in the concert and jazz bands as well as the orchestra.  He was awarded Best Brass at Central High the past three years.  He plays principal trumpet in the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra and, in May 2015, conducted the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.   He also conducted the Music Education Benefit Concert Orchestra in 2015.  He serves on the Wildwood Academy for Music and the Arts Task Force.  He attended Interlochen Summer Camp for the Arts for trumpet and vocals.  Eric sings in both the adult and youth choirs at Second Presbyterian Church.  He has also composed many orchestral works which include symphonies, concertos and solo pieces for various instruments.  


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The American Prize is honored to announce the winner and runners-up of The American Prize in Conducting: Community Orchestra Division, 2015. Congratulations!

All finalists receive written evaluations from a member of The American Prize judging panel.

Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found elsewhere on this blog.

Please make us aware of any misprints: theamericanprize@gmail.com

The American Prize in Conducting: Community Orchestra Division, 2015.

The American Prize winner:
Walter Morales
    Undercroft Opera Orchestra    Pittsburgh, PA

Walter Morales
Walter Morales is the Music Director of the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra. His previous positions include Music Director of Undercroft Opera, Music Director of the Carnegie Mellon University Contemporary Ensemble, Head of Music of Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic, Assistant Director of Orchestral Studies at Carnegie Mellon University and Assistant Conductor of the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic. He has been a guest conductor with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, Butler County Symphony Orchestra, McKeesport Symphony Orchestra, University of Costa Rica Symphony Orchestra, University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Youth Chamber Orchestra and Rutgers Chamber Orchestra.  He has also served as cover conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

An active concert pianist and recording artist, Morales has toured through out the United States, Central and South America. His recordings as conductor and pianist can be heard on the Centaur, Mode, Zimbel, and Quindecim labels.


2nd Place:
Matthew Hooper
    West Shore Symphony Orchestra    Carlisle, PA

Matthew Hooper
MATTHEW HOOPER is in his third season as the Music Director and Conductor of the West Shore Symphony Orchestra in Mechanicsburg and Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In 2015, he debuted with the Wilmington (DE) Community Orchestra as a finalist for their Music Director position. Previously, Hooper served as Assistant Conductor of the Muncie Symphony and Ball State University Orchestras in Muncie, Indiana. He has served as the Resident Music Director of the Muncie Civic Theatre and Music Director for Indiana Public Radio's annual live radio dramas. Hooper holds a Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting from Ball State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Lebanon Valley College.  Wherever he conducts, speaks, or presents, Hooper brings a message and desire for the spread of great music to new audiences.  Matthew resides in Oxford, PA with his wife Alison. More information about Matthew Hooper is available at his website: www.matthooper.com


3rd Place:
Ted Vives
    Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra    Los Alamos, NM

Ted Vives
Ted Vives is originally from Auburn, Alabama. His musical experience began with piano lessons but his interests changed to trombone performance and composition upon entering the public school system. Vives holds bachelor's degrees in both composition and music education from Florida State University. He also holds a Masters of Music in Composition and a Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Florida  Dr. Vives has taught in the public schools in Florida and has served as a clinician at band and music camps in many states. Dr. Vives resides in Los Alamos, New Mexico with his wife, Paula, son, Alex, and daughter Abby.  He serves on the Boards of Directors for both the Los Alamos Symphony and the Santa Fe Community Orchestra where he is principal trombone for both ensembles.


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The American Prize is honored to announce the winner and runners-up of The American Prize in Conducting: College/University Chorus Division, 2015. Congratulations!

All finalists receive written evaluations from a member of The American Prize judging panel.

Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found elsewhere on this blog.

Please make us aware of any misprints: theamericanprize@gmail.com

The American Prize in Conducting: College/University Chorus Division, 2015.

The American Prize winner:
Zebulon M. Highben
    Muskingum Concert Choir & Chamber Singers
    New Concord, OH

Zebulon M. Highben
Zebulon M. Highben is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio. Ensembles under his direction have performed for numerous conferences and festivals, including the Ohio Choral Directors Association, ACDA of Minnesota, and the St. Olaf College Choral Festival.  In 2016 Dr. Highben will teach and perform in South Korea as a Conducting Fellow in ACDA’s International Conductors Exchange Program, and will also lead the Muskingum Concert Choir on tours to Washington, D.C. (February) and Germany and the Czech Republic (May). As a composer, Dr. Highben has received awards from ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, and the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, and was a Finalist for the 2014 American Prize in Choral Composition. Over forty of his works are published by five domestic publishers and by Gehrmans Musikförlag in Sweden. He studied at Ohio State University, Luther Seminary, and St. Olaf College, and holds the DMA in conducting from Michigan State University, where he was the recipient of both the Charles K. Smith Fellowship in Choral Conducting and the Robert A. Harris Award for Excellence in Choral Performance. website: www.zebulonhighben.com


2nd Place:
Kevin M. Geraldi
    UNCG Symphony Orchestra and Choirs
    Greensboro, NC

Kevin M. Geraldi
DR. KEVIN M. GERALDI is Associate Professor of Conducting and Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  In this capacity, he conducts the UNCG Symphony Orchestra, Casella Sinfonietta, and Symphonic Band.  In addition to regular appearances as a guest conductor and clinician, he has recorded several compact discs on the Centaur and Equilibrium labels.  Dr. Geraldi holds the Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees in conducting from the University of Michigan, where he studied with H. Robert Reynolds and Michael Haithcock, and the Bachelor of Music Education degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, where he studied conducting with Steven Eggleston.  He has also studied conducting with Gustav Meier and Kenneth Kiesler. Dr. Geraldi is a recipient of the Thelma A. Robinson Award, an award given biennially by the Conductors Guild and the National Federation of Music Clubs.  http://orchestras.uncg.edu


3rd Place:
Eliezer Yanson
    Jr. Combined Choirs of Bob Jones University
    Greenville, SC

Eliezer Yanson
Eliezer Yanson Jr. is associate professor of music at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C., where he conducts the University Singers and Lyric Choir and teaches undergraduate and graduate music classes. He earned a doctor of musical arts degree in choral conducting from the University of South Carolina, a master of music degree in church music and a bachelor of music in piano performance from Bob Jones University. Additionally, he holds a bachelor of theology degree from Baptist Bible Seminary & Institute in his native Philippines. His main conducting mentors have been Larry Wyatt and Warren Cook. An active clinician, conference speaker, and adjudicator, Eliezer is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, International Federation for Choral Music, National Collegiate Choral Organization, National Association for Music Education, and Pi Kappa Lambda. While passionate about conducting and teaching, Eliezer’s greatest role is being husband to Martha and father to Isabella and Andre.


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Marilyn Miller
The American Prize is honored to announce the winners and runners-up of The American Prize in Musical Theater Performance, 2015.

Congratulations!

All finalists receive written evaluations from a member of The American Prize judging panel.

Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found elsewhere on this blog.

Please make us aware of any misprints: theamericanprize@gmail.com

The American Prize in Musical Theater Performance, 2015.

The American Prize winner:
Belmont University Musical Theatre   Nashville, TN  
Jo Lynn Burks, conductor / Nancy Allen, director
    for Oklahoma!

Belmont University Musical Theatre
Belmont University is proud to call Nashville, TN home.  This Musical Theater program offers conservatory training in a liberal arts environment.  Our students are trained to be triple and quadruple threats ready for New York City by the time they graduate.  We have students on Broadway, in National Tours, originating Off Broadway roles and are the proud program which workshopped the up and coming production of  “Chasing Rainbows”.  In the professional performing industry our students are known for their incredible voices, excellent musicianship and immutable work ethic.  This production of Roger and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! premiered on November 7th, 2014 to a packed house in Massey Auditorium on the Belmont University Campus.  Direction by David Shamburger, Assistant Direction and Choreography by Emily Speck, Music Direction and Conducting by Jo Lynn Burks and the Program Coordinator and Production Manager is Nancy Allen. Check us out at Belmont.edu!


2nd Place:
Top Billing Entertainment Performance Academy   Glendora, CA  
Kristina Keener Ivy, director
    for Beauty and the Beast

Top Billing Entertainment Performance Academy
Top Billing Entertainment Performance Academy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, "no cuts" group where each performer is treated with respect, given professional instruction, and given the opportunity for a featured solo. In January 2015, Top Billing opened a 4,000 square foot location in Glendora, CA where they now offer group and private classes in singing, dancing, acting, on-camera acting, fitness and instruments. In 2014 Top Billing won #1 Best Musical Theater Production and #2 Musical Theater Director in the American Prize Competition, Best Dance School in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune's Readers Choice Awards, and has received 23 National Youth Arts Nominations with six wins. We are successful because we believe each performer is vital and should be treated as if they have top billing.


SPECIAL JUDGE'S AWARD: 3rd Place:
Royal Oak Middle School   Covina, CA  
Nicole Pedroche, director     
    for The Drowsy Chaperone
Royal Oak Middle School
Royal Oak Middle school, located in Covina, California, has an incredible history in Theater Art excellence and community. It should be noted that though ROMS is competing in the high school division, we are a public middle school theater troupe in the truest sense. The entire cast (except for 2 teacher cameos) is comprised of only 7th and 8th grade students. Students pay zero fees to participate, instead funding the program through fantastic ticket sales and small refreshment fundraisers. The program in fiercely loved by the community and has produced several successful actors, writers, film producers, theater educators and other industry types. Students are also expected to learn technical theater and handle costume pulls, scenic work, set changes, stage management, audio engineering, lighting, front of house business, and program writing. This is the second ROMS musical for the new program director, Nicole Pedroche.


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