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The American Prize
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The American Prize is honored to announce the winners, runners-up and citation recipient of The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2015, in the community orchestra division.

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 Orchestral Performance, 2015, community orchestra division

The American Prize winner:
Manassas Symphony Orchestra
James Villani, music director    Manassas, VA
Manassas Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 1992, the Manassas Symphony Orchestra is the Manassas and Prince William County area’s premier community-service symphony orchestra. Its diverse blend of local and national artists, great music, unique programs, and family-friendly atmosphere is designed to delight both long-time patrons and newest audience members, bringing the experience and excitement of live orchestral performances to families for an affordable price. The symphony is open to all area musicians by audition and provides a quality performance opportunity for serious adult players.  Thriving without ringers or recording contracts, the MSO’s all-volunteer membership crosses a variety of professions, including teachers, physicians, and engineers. In addition, the symphony provides opportunities for select advanced high school players. Under the direction of James Villani, the symphony enjoys a large following in its beautiful home at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas. For more information about the Manassas Symphony, visit ManassasSymphony.org.

2nd Place:
Detroit Medical Orchestra
Elliot Moore, music director    Detroit, MI
Detroit Medical Orchestra
The Detroit Medical Orchestra (DMO) was founded by a musically-gifted medical student at Wayne State University School of Medicine in 2010. Our musicians are doctors, nurses, medical students, and other medical professionals, and our members are affiliated with several medical systems and hospitals throughout Southeast Michigan.  Our Music Director, Dr. Elliot Moore, recently graduated from the University of Michigan conducting program. The DMO is now a full symphony orchestra with more than 80 musicians at our May, 2014, performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. We most recently performed Stravinsky’s Firebird (1919) with staging and choreography for the dancers, orchestra, and our conductor, on May 3, 2015.  Our mission is to explore the connections between music and healing, foster partnerships among medical professionals, and make philanthropic contributions to the Detroit community.  We have used each concert performance to raise funds for local medically-related charities in Detroit.


3rd Place:
Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra
Peter Wilson, music director    Waynesboro, VA
Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra
The Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra ( WSO ) founded in 1996,  is a non-profit organization of professional, amateur and student musicians
serving Waynesboro, Staunton, Charlottesville and other Central Virginia Communities. The WSO provides dedicated instrumentalists with opportunities to collaborate in an intergenerational and educational environment, to share in the joy of music-making and to contribute to the cultural vitality of the region.


SPECIAL JUDGE'S CITATION: "Commitment to Community Outreach and Music Education"
Williamson County Symphony
Thomas Rainey, music director        Round Rock, TX
Williamson County Symphony
The Williamson County Symphony Orchestra was formed in 2002 by church musicians desiring to play substantial classical music.  The 90-member Orchestra is staffed entirely by volunteer musicians: a few of which are teaching professionals and musicians with collegiate degrees in performance, most just adults working in other professions, and a few select students.

The Orchestra performs FREE "pops-styled" concerts with a mixture of music from the classical, romantic & modern periods, movies & TV music, contemporary music, jazz genre music, and new compositions from Composer-in-Resident, Dr ML Daniels.  The FREE concerts are pitched toward families, seniors, and people who do not yet know they like great music.  The Orchestra, directed by Dr Thomas Rainey, performs a two-concert series four times a year - Fall, Christmas, Spring, & Outdoor - at venues across Williamson County plus one FREE concert for the troops and their families at Ft Hood.


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7 months ago | |
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The American Prize is honored to announce the winners and runners-up of The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2015, in all divisions.

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 Orchestral Performance, 2015, professional orchestra division

The American Prize winner:
Western Piedmont Symphony
John Gordon Ross, music director    Hickory, NC
Western Piedmont Symphony
The Western Piedmont Symphony was founded as the Hickory Symphony in 1964 and was conducted in its early years by Albert Chafoo.  In 1972, the orchestra’s name was changed to the Western Piedmont Symphony to reflect the expanded role of the orchestra to serve a four-county region.    The 2014-15 season was a celebration of 50 years of service and music-making including recognition of the orchestra founders and early players.

During the 50th season Martin Bellar the Western Piedmont Symphony’s second conductor was featured as a guest conductor at the second concert of the season.   Maestro Bellar was responsible for founding the Youth Symphony during his tenure.   Dr. Richard Hughey, the orchestra’s third conductor founded the Western Piedmont String Quartet, the precursor of the Hickory Metro String Quartet Residency and also conducted the orchestras first Family Concerts in the 1988-89 season.  In 1991, John Gordon Ross became the fourth conductor.

2nd Place:
Michigan Philharmonic
Nan Harrison Washburn, music director        Plymouth, MI
Michigan Philharmonic
The Michigan Philharmonic, one of the most innovative and dynamic professional orchestras in Southeast Michigan, was recently awarded the prestigious Knight Foundation Arts Challenge Grant and received 2nd and 3rd Place honors from The American Prize, professional orchestra division. Nan Washburn, Music Director and Conductor since 1999, has won 19 ASCAP Awards for Adventuresome Programming of Contemporary Music from the League of American Orchestras. Michigan Phil is bringing its events into an ever-expanding roster of Michigan communities, including Plymouth, Canton, Birmingham-Bloomfield, Brighton, Downtown Detroit, and many others. The organization is committed to reaching out to a broad and diverse array of audiences and providing enjoyable cultural and social experiences. Currently in its 69th Season, the orchestra plays a full season of concerts throughout the year including pops, outdoor, Bollywood and Fusion Festivals.  The Philharmonic also has an extensive education program that includes the Michigan Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

3rd Place:
Odysseus Chamber Orchestra
Jason Lim, music director       Frisco/McKinney, TX
Odysseus Chamber Orchestra
Founded in Denton, Texas in 2012, the Odysseus Chamber Orchestra consists of professional classical musicians from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Under the direction of Artistic Director and Conductor Jason Lim, the orchestra performs both classical symphonies by the great composers as well as innovative productions.

In its first year, the orchestra collaborated with the Denton City Contemporary Ballet to stage a full ballet performance of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf". In 2014, Odysseus featured the tango music of Astor Piazzolla spotlighting world-renowned double bassist Jeff Bradetich. On February 8, 2015, Odysseus collaborated with choreographer Amiti Perry to stage its premiere performance of the full production of Igor Stravinsky's "A Soldier's Tale", a performance combining ballet, narration, and music from a select group of the orchestra's string, wind, horn and percussion sections.

Though comprised of young musicians, albeit very talented and even award-winning in their own right, and led by a young Artistic Director and Conductor, in its very short history Odysseus Chamber Orchestra has gained a national reputation as an emerging ensemble. In 2013, the orchestra was awarded 3rd prize in the American Prize Competition for Professional Orchestra, and improved to 2nd prize in the competition the following year.


The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2015, college/university orchestra division

The American Prize winner:
Baylor Symphony Orchestra
Stephen Heyde, music director    Waco, TX
Baylor Symphony Orchestra
The Baylor Symphony is dedicated to the quality performance of the orchestral repertoire and to the professional and artistic growth of its’ members. The ensemble has performed at the Texas Music Educator Convention eight times and appeared in a PBS Special aired nationally with an estimated audience of six million viewers.  Other significant performances include concerts at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival and at national conventions of the American String Teachers Association and the College Orchestra Directors Association.  The Baylor Symphony has worked with many distinguished performers including Van Cliburn, Robert Shaw, Joseph Gingold, Corey Cerovsek, Jacob Druckman, Lorin Hollander and Peter Schickele among others. International tours include Costa Rica in 2004 and the Flanders region of Belgium in 2010.  The Orchestra was named winner of the 2014 American Prize in the University Orchestra category.


2nd Place:
Peabody Symphony Orchestra
Hajime Teri Murai, music director   Baltimore, MD
Peabody Symphony Orchestra
The Peabody Symphony Orchestra is the senior of the two full symphonic orchestras at the Peabody Conservatory of Music.  The members of the orchestra are primarily upper division and graduate students.  The Peabody Symphony Orchestra performs five to six symphonic concerts and a major opera production each season. Programming for the orchestra is designed to provide its members with a rich and diverse performance experience, centered around the standard repertoire, but including contemporary music, American works, and premiere performances.  Peabody orchestras have regularly won ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming.  The Peabody Symphony Orchestra has been praised by the Baltimore Sun and provides its audiences with committed, energetic, and heartfelt performances.


3rd Place:
Western Michigan Univ. Symphony Orchestra
Bruce Uchimura, music director        Kalamazoo, MI

Western Michigan Univ. Symphony Orchestra
The Western Michigan University Symphony Orchestra was named "Best Classical University Symphony Orchestra" in Downbeat magazine's 2005 nationally recognized student music awards competition. The orchestra performed the final movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 "Choral" to much acclaim at the opening concert of the 1999 Midwestern Music Conference in Ann Arbor's Hill Auditorium and presented a featured concert at the 2008 Michigan Music Conference. In 2014, they performed the entire Nutcracker Ballet with the Moscow Ballet Company.

Under conductor and Professor of Cello, Bruce Uchimura, the University Symphony performs orchestral masterworks, features internationally recognized and WMU faculty soloists, and collaborates with touring ballet companies and popular culture artists. They present a six-concert season each year, which includes classical and Pops concerts. In 2014, the WMU orchestra gave a special performance of Richard Danielpour’s Requiem. The WMU Orchestra also features the Silver Medalist of the Stulberg International String Competition each year.


HONORABLE MENTION:
Bob Jones University Symphony Orchestra
Michael W. Moore, music director    Greenville, SC

Bob Jones University Symphony Orchestra
The Bob Jones University Symphony Orchestra, one of three orchestras at BJU, exists to inspire artistic excellence in performance as a display of God’s glory and His gifts to man. Auditions are open to all students in the University regardless of major program of study. The Symphony has a long and rich tradition of presenting masterworks from the orchestral repertoire; recent performances under the direction of Michael W. Moore have included John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1., Brahms’ Symphony No. 1, and Camille Saint-Saens’ Violin Concerto No. 3 with David Kim, soloist. http://www.bju.edu/life-faith/student-organizations/orchestra.php


The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2015, community orchestra division

The American Prize winner:
Manassas Symphony Orchestra
James Villani, music director    Manassas, VA
Manassas Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 1992, the Manassas Symphony Orchestra is the Manassas and Prince William County area’s premier community-service symphony orchestra. Its diverse blend of local and national artists, great music, unique programs, and family-friendly atmosphere is designed to delight both long-time patrons and newest audience members, bringing the experience and excitement of live orchestral performances to families for an affordable price. The symphony is open to all area musicians by audition and provides a quality performance opportunity for serious adult players.  Thriving without ringers or recording contracts, the MSO’s all-volunteer membership crosses a variety of professions, including teachers, physicians, and engineers. In addition, the symphony provides opportunities for select advanced high school players. Under the direction of James Villani, the symphony enjoys a large following in its beautiful home at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas. For more information about the Manassas Symphony, visit ManassasSymphony.org.

2nd Place:
Detroit Medical Orchestra
Elliot Moore, music director    Detroit, MI
Detroit Medical Orchestra
The Detroit Medical Orchestra (DMO) was founded by a musically-gifted medical student at Wayne State University School of Medicine in 2010. Our musicians are doctors, nurses, medical students, and other medical professionals, and our members are affiliated with several medical systems and hospitals throughout Southeast Michigan.  Our Music Director, Dr. Elliot Moore, recently graduated from the University of Michigan conducting program. The DMO is now a full symphony orchestra with more than 80 musicians at our May, 2014, performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. We most recently performed Stravinsky’s Firebird (1919) with staging and choreography for the dancers, orchestra, and our conductor, on May 3, 2015.  Our mission is to explore the connections between music and healing, foster partnerships among medical professionals, and make philanthropic contributions to the Detroit community.  We have used each concert performance to raise funds for local medically-related charities in Detroit.


3rd Place:
Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra
Peter Wilson, music director    Waynesboro, VA
Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra
The Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra ( WSO ) founded in 1996,  is a non-profit organization of professional, amateur and student musicians serving Waynesboro, Staunton, Charlottesville and other Central Virginia Communities. The WSO provides dedicated instrumentalists with opportunities to collaborate in an intergenerational and educational environment, to share in the joy of music-making and to contribute to the cultural vitality of the region.


SPECIAL JUDGE'S CITATION: "Commitment to Community Outreach and Music Education"
Williamson County Symphony
Thomas Rainey, music director        Round Rock, TX
Williamson County Symphony
The Williamson County Symphony Orchestra was formed in 2002 by church musicians desiring to play substantial classical music.  The 90-member Orchestra is staffed entirely by volunteer musicians: a few of which are teaching professionals and musicians with collegiate degrees in performance, most just adults working in other professions, and a few select students.

The Orchestra performs FREE "pops-styled" concerts with a mixture of music from the classical, romantic & modern periods, movies & TV music, contemporary music, jazz genre music, and new compositions from Composer-in-Resident, Dr ML Daniels.  The FREE concerts are pitched toward families, seniors, and people who do not yet know they like great music.  The Orchestra, directed by Dr Thomas Rainey, performs a two-concert series four times a year - Fall, Christmas, Spring, & Outdoor - at venues across Williamson County plus one FREE concert for the troops and their families at Ft Hood.


The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2015, youth orchestra division

The American Prize winner:
Houston Youth Symphony 
Michael Webster, music director    Houston, TX 
Houston Youth Symphony
Founded in 1946, Houston Youth Symphony (HYS) is the recipient of national acclaim including the 2014 first prize winner of the Mark of Excellence Award from The Foundation for Music Education and the 2014 American Prize in Orchestral Performance – Youth Orchestra Division Each season approximately 350 musicians between the ages of seven and 19 come from across the greater Houston area to perform in one of four HYS orchestras. In addition to the core orchestra program, HYS offers advanced musicians a chamber music training program and an annual concerto competition.

In the community, HYS provides free private music lessons for talented youth in select economically disadvantaged communities through the Melody Program. In January 2015, HYS launched the Coda Music Program, an after-school pilot effort modeled after El Sistema that brings graduated, intensive string instruction to two elementary schools using classical music and group instruction to build community and social transformation.


2nd Place:
Dubuque Symphony Youth Orchestra 
Thomas Dickey, music director        Dubuque, IA
Dubuque Symphony Youth Orchestra
The Dubuque Symphony Youth Orchestra (DSY)) is the premier orchestral training program for youth in the tri-state area.  It is an educational component of the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, overseen by the DSO Education Committee. The DSYO's mission is to supplement and enhance music education in the schools and to promote the highest standards of musical excellence via weekly rehearsals and regularly scheduled public performances.  In 2012, the DSYO won third place in the American Prize in Orchestral Performance competition and was invited to perform at the ASTA National Orchestra Festival.



3rd Place:
Stringendo Orchestra School's Vivace
Jonathan Handman, music director  Poughkeepsie, NY 
Stringendo Orchestra School's Vivace
Vivace is the most advanced orchestra of the Stringendo Orchestra School and is comprised of 24 highly motivated and accomplished high school students that recently won the 2014 ASTA National Orchestra Festival Grand Champion prize of the Youth Orchestra Division.  Vivace has performed at the Music Educators’ National Conference (MENC) and at the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Winter Conference. Stringendo was co-founded in 2001 by Emily Schaad and Jonathan Handman and is a music school located in the Hudson Valley Region of New York State that explores orchestral and fiddle styles of string playing. Currently Stringendo has 6 string orchestras, a comprehensive fiddle program and a summer camp that enrolls over 300 students each year.


The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2015, arts high school orchestra division

The American Prize winner:
Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra
Dr. Carolyn Watson, director       Interlochen, MI 
Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra
The Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra presents approximately eight major concerts each year and frequently collaborates with renowned guest artists and conductors. The orchestra performs a diversity of literature comprising major works of the symphonic repertoire, concerti and new music. The Academy Orchestra also performs with choir and other ensembles, and is the resident orchestra for the annual ballet production. In addition to works presented for performance, the Academy Orchestra reads and rehearses numerous other works in regular reading sessions.


2nd Place:
Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra 
Timothy Verville, director        Idyllwild, CA
Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra
Idyllwild Arts Academy is the country’s premier and internationally-acclaimed residential arts high school which provides pre-professional training in the arts and a comprehensive college preparatory curriculum to a diverse student body of gifted young artists. Located in the San Jacinto Mountains, its pine-forested campus is only two hours away from Los Angeles and San Diego. The orchestra, directed by Timothy Verville, has a rich history of preparing talented performers for top music schools and professional careers which include Liang Wang, current principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic. The school also holds a yearly composition commission awarded to some of the greatest living composers. For more information please visit http://www.idyllwildarts.org.


3rd Place:
Youth Performing Arts School Philharmonia 
Dan Whisler, director        Louisville, KY
Youth Performing Arts School Philharmonia
The Youth Performing Arts School (YPAS) is a performing arts school in Louisville, KY, that concentrates on numerous music, theatre, dance, and design/production disciplines for high school students. In recent years, the YPAS Philharmonia has auditioned for and been invited to perform on numerous occasions at state, regional, and national music educator conferences. They've also appeared on the nationally syndicated National Public Radio program From the Top, at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, in the MidAmerica series in New York City’s legendary Carnegie Hall, and at the Music for All Orchestra America National Festival in 2009, 2013, and 2015. The string students in this department typically compose 20 to 25 percent of the Kentucky All-State Orchestra string section. Annually, about 85% of student graduates attend major music colleges. The 105 members of the YPAS class of 2014 were offered 568 scholarships totaling over $18.5 million.


The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2015, high school orchestra division

The American Prize winner:
Jasper Legacy Orchestra 
Ryan Ross, director        Plano, TX
Jasper Legacy Orchestra
The Jasper High School Orchestra is proud to be one of the most accomplished orchestra programs in Texas. Jasper is a grade 9 and 10 campus in Plano, TX, a Dallas suburb. Their orchestra currently serves over 200 students in five orchestras. Since its inception in 1996, Jasper’s top ensemble, Legacy Orchestra, has repeatedly ranked as one of the top string orchestras in Texas, competing alongside high schools that fill their orchestras with 9th through 12th graders.  For 2014, they were named the winners of the TMEA Honor Full Orchestra competition, the first time a non-varsity orchestra earned that distinction in Texas history.  In addition, they won the 2014 Mark of Excellence National Orchestra Honors full orchestra award and the 2013 American Prize in Orchestral Performance.  The Jasper Orchestra program is led by Ryan Ross and Assistant Director Brad Davis.


2nd Place:
Midway Camerata 
Beau Benson, director        Waco, TX 
Midway Camerata
The Midway ISD Orchestra program began in the 2000-2001 school year with 62 students.  Today, there are over 250 students in six different class orchestras from 7th to 12th grade plus 6th grade beginners.  In the fifteen years since the program’s inception, the orchestras of MISD have distinguished themselves at the state and national level, and have garnered community support through innovative programming. The orchestras of MISD have consistently earned Sweepstakes awards at UIL Concert and Sight Reading Contest as well as national festivals, and have been well-represented each year in the TMEA All-Region and All-State Orchestras.  In 2012, the Midway Philharmonic Orchestra was named first runner-up for the American Prize in Orchestral Performance and the Midway Camerata was the only 4A high school to be selected for the final round of the TMEA State Honor Orchestra Contest.  In addition, 2012 brought the Midway Camerata an invitation to perform at the 66th annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago, IL.


3rd Place:
Arlington HS Philharmonia 
Jonathan Handman, director        LaGrangeville, NY
Arlington HS Philharmonia
Arlington High School's Philharmonia is the most advanced of five orchestras and was the Grand Champion of the ASTA National Orchestra Festival in March 2012.  The program consists of two ninth grade string orchestra and three symphonic orchestras for students in grades 10-12, of which Ms. Elizabeth Handman, Mr. Jonathan Handman and Mr. John Harper are the directors.  In total, the program has over 250 string students and 75 wind/percussion members that join the strings every other day as their second ensemble in addition to the band program that they are members of.  Arlington Central School District’s High School Principal is Mr. Paul Fanuele and Music Coordinator is Mr. Richard Guillen.


HONORABLE MENTION:
Klein Oak Symphony Orchestra 
Tanner Ledford, director        Spring, TX
Klein Oak Symphony Orchestra
In Klein ISD our students begin music instruction in Kindergarten.  In the fifth grade our students can begin after school strings instruction which meets twice a week. In middle school and high school, string instruction is daily for around 48 minutes. In addition, at the intermediate and high school levels, the students stay before and after school to practice through a combination of targeted sectionals and supervised open practice. Around 20% of our students are enrolled in a private lesson program. Currently there are 126 string students in our clusters’ 5th grade program, 365 in our middle school programs, and 185 in our high school program. Klein Oak High School is located in the northern part of the district in a small residential suburban community. It is approximately 45 minutes from downtown Houston. Klein Oak High School is comprised of grades 9-12 with an enrollment of approximately 3900 students.


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The American Prize is honored to announce the winners and runners-up of The American Prize in Choral Performance, 2015, in the youth/school chorus division.

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 Choral Performance, 2015, youth/school chorus

The American Prize winner:
Cincinnati Children's Choir 
Robyn Lana, director        Cincinnati, OH  
Cincinnati Children's Choir
The Cincinnati Children’s Choir, Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, directed by founder Robyn Lana, has become recognized as a leader in the children's and youth choir movement nationally and throughout the world. CCC provides high quality music education to over 950 girls and boys, grades 1-12.  It is the mission of CCC to offer all children the opportunity to experience musical excellence in a creative environment. Participants demonstrate musical understanding, artistry, achievement and confidence through passionate performances and collaborations with premier ensembles. CCC is a gold medal winner of the 2012 World Choir Games where they were the top scoring US choir in their category.  CCC has been a featured ensemble at Carnegie Hall, The Forbidden City Concert Hall (Beijing), and the Vatican among many others.  CCC is one of two choirs invited to represent the US at the World Expo in Milan, 2015.  www.cincinnatichoir.org


2nd Place:
The Davidson Chorale 
Timothy  Powell, director    Augusta, GA
The Davidson Chorale
The Davidson Chorale are the 2012 winners of the American Prize in Choral Performance. Continuing a long history of national and international success, under the direction of conductor Timothy M. Powell, the Chorale has performed with two-time Grammy winner Joseph Jennings, Charles Anthony Silvestri, Tim Sharp, and Mack Wilberg. In the last six years, they have appeared by peer-reviewed invitation at the Southern Division ACDA Conference and three Georgia Music Educators Association Conferences. Additionally, they have participated in three world-premiere performances at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall to stellar reviews. In 2013 they were honored by an invitation to sing at the Vatican and in 2010 appeared by exclusive invitation on Easter Sunday at the famed St. Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Germany, the home church of J. S. Bach. In 2016 they will travel to Dublin, Ireland for a world premiere performance with Tim Sharp and Patrick Cassidy.


3rd Place:
The Brearley B-Naturals 
Karyn Joaquino, director    New York, NY
The Brearley B-Naturals
The B-Naturals are the a cappella group of The Brearley School, an all-girls preparatory school in New York City. Founded by students in 1986, the group has performed under the direction of Karyn Joaquino since she joined the Brearley faculty in 2000.

The repertoire is intentionally broad, ranging from traditional choral pieces to vocal jazz and pop. Much of the repertoire is arranged by Ms. Joaquino, but every show or recording is likely to include student arrangements and original student compositions. Most members of the B-Naturals pursue their love of a cappella music during their college careers as well, often directing their own groups.

The B-Naturals have sung the national anthem before a Yankees game, entertained the King and Queen of Sweden, toured to England and Wales, and performed twice at Jazz at Lincoln Center, most recently in May 2014 at the invitation of Tina Fey. In addition to live performances, the B-Naturals have recorded six CDs, and have been recognized for their work by Best of High School A Cappella, DownBeat Magazine, the Contemporary A Cappella Recording (CARA) awards, and The American Prize for Choral Performance.


HONORABLE MENTION: 
Olympia HS Concert Choir 
Debbie Aurelius-Muir, director        Stanford, IL   
Olympia HS Concert Choir
The Olympia High School Concert Choir is a mixed chorus of 55 students which draws from a school of about 530 students. The chorus is a non-auditioned group of dedicated musicians who hail from approximately eight small rural communities that comprise Olympia Community School District #16 in Stanford, Illinois. This chorus is a curricular, elective class which meets every other day. This is the only chorus at this high school and it is comprised of all four grade levels: freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The group is under the direction of Debbie Aurelius-Muir. www.olympiacusd16


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7 months ago | |
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The American Prize is honored to announce the winners and runners-up of The American Prize in Choral Performance, 2015, in the community chorus division.

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 Choral Performance, 2015, community chorus division

The American Prize winner:
Peninsula Womens Chorus 
Martin Benvenuto, director      Palo Alto, CA 
Peninsula Womens Chorus
The Peninsula Women's Chorus (PWC) is a Palo Alto-based, 50-voice women's community choir performing high-quality classical and contemporary music in the Bay Area and many parts of the world. Since its founding in 1966, the Peninsula Women's Chorus has been committed to excellence in the performance of diverse and challenging choral literature for women's voices, and is recognized as the premier vocal ensemble for women in the San Francisco Bay Area. The PWC has come to national and international attention through live performance and recordings and has added significantly to the choral literature by commissioning new music. The chorus inspires and enriches its audiences in the Bay Area through its concert series, its ongoing program of premiering new works, and its numerous collaborations with other performing groups. www.pwchorus.org

2nd Place:
Princeton Pro Musica
Ryan Brandau, director   Princeton, NJ
Princeton Pro Musica
Princeton Pro Musica is a community arts organization that exists to perform choral masterworks, orchestral works, and other works of the choral literature with energy, passion, and uncompromising artistic excellence. We believe in the power of choral music to uplift and transform our current and future audiences, performers, and communities.

Princeton Pro Musica includes a volunteer chorus of 100 voices and an orchestra whose primary purpose of the organization since its founding in 1979 has been the presentation of major choral-orchestral works, both classical and contemporary. Recent seasons have explored the music of Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Poulenc, Pärt, and others; have seen PPM’s first forays into working with Baroque orchestras to explore the music of Handel and Bach; and have include world premiere performances. Artistic Director Ryan James Brandau brings a deep and broad experience with choral and orchestral ensembles to the podium.

3rd Place:
Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble 
Loren W. Ponten, director        Seattle, WA 
Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble
Formed in 1992 by founding director Loren Pontén, Opus 7 specializes in 19th- through 21st-century a cappella choral music. As a resident ensemble of St. James Cathedral in Seattle, Washington since 1994, Opus 7 is dedicated to performing the works of local and regional composers, regularly commissioning new choral compositions. In addition, since 2000 Opus 7 has fostered new talent in the field of choral music through their unique Student Choral Composition Awards Program.


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The American Prize is honored to announce the winner and runner-up of  The American Prize in Arts Marketing, 2015.  Congratulations! (This is a new competition, being awarded this year for the first time.)

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 Arts Marketing, 2015.

The American Prize winner:
DCINY, and the DCINY team
Iris Derke, General Director and Co-Founder
for "TOTAL VOCAL"
    New York, NY

TOTAL VOCAL
Distinguished Concerts International New York: Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) is a leading concert producer, providing opportunities for singers and instrumentalists from around the globe to perform on our professional level series in the most prestigious concert halls in the world. Founded by Iris Derke (General Director) and Jonathan Griffith (Artistic Director and Principal Conductor) Distinguished Concerts International is driven by passion, innovative vision, a total belief in its artists, and an unwavering commitment to bring forth an unforgettable performer and audience experience. DCINY is a creative producing entity with unmatched integrity that is a talent incubator, a star-maker, and a presenter of broadly accessible, world-class musical entertainment.

2nd Place:
Houghton Lyric Theater—Opera and Music Theater Ensemble   
Mitchell Hutchings and Sarah Hutchings, directors
Houghton, NY
Houghton Lyric Theater—Opera and Music Theater Ensemble
The Houghton Lyric Theater is a community-based organization and ensemble part of the Greatbatch School of Music, Houghton College. The mission of Houghton Lyric Theater is to enrich the culture of Western New York by producing quality staged and concert performances of opera, operetta, and musical theatre, investing in educational programs, and being an active member of the immediate community in order to promote lyric theater-related community events for people of diverse traditions and economic backgrounds. Under the guidance of our Artistic Director, Mitchell Hutchings, the Houghton Lyric Theater has produced both opera and musical theatre works, including Houghton College’s first full-length, fully orchestrated, fully-staged opera in a foreign language (L’elisir d’amore, 2014) and Houghton College’s first world premiere workshop (Rodman in North Korea, 2015). Guest Artists and Master Class clinicians sponsored by the Houghton Lyric Theater have included such elite members of the professional singing community as singers from the Metropolitan Opera and multiple George London Competition winners.     ttps://www.facebook.com/HoughtonCollegeLyricTheater

Sarah Hutchings has appeared as an Assistant Director for a production of An American Tragedy at The Glimmerglass Festival in 2014 working with composer Tobias Picker and stage director Peter Kazaras. Previous stage direction credits include two seasons at Cincinnati Chamber Opera, directing productions of Handel’s Acis and Galatea and Haydn’s Il mondo della luna, and with Houghton Lyric Theater, directing productions of Donizetti’s Elisir d’Amore and co-directing Schwartz’s Children of Eden.
 


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The American Prize is honored to announce the winners and runners-up of The American Prize in Opera 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 Opera Performance, 2015

The American Prize winner:
Resonance Works Pittsburgh 
Maria Sensi Sellner, director    Pittsburgh, PA
for Elixir of Love

Resonance Works Pittsburgh
RESONANCE WORKS is a collaborative, multimodal performing arts company dedicated to exploring the confluence of artist, audience, music, and space. Artist-driven programming sets Resonance Works apart. Our professional artists are creative partners in every way: performers, administrators, board members, volunteers, and donors. Founded in 2013 by conductor Maria Sensi Sellner, Resonance Works' projects span an increasingly broad spectrum of repertoire. Programming over the last two years has included fully-staged operas by Verdi, Donizetti, and Menotti; orchestral works by Shostakovich, Mahler, Debussy, and Copland; choral works by Britten, Pergolesi, and Pittsburgh's own Nancy Galbraith; and chamber works by Barber, Bach, Boulanger, and others.  www.ResonanceWorks.org


2nd Place:
Indiana University of Pennsylvania 
Tania Arazi Coambs, director    Indiana, PA
for The Tender Land

Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Tania Coambs is the the director of opera and musical theater in the music department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She explained why she chose to put “The Tender Land” on for the IUP students and faculty. “I was drawn to this story because it is something that most college students can relate to: having to make choices about what to do with their lives, thinking about leaving home for the first time and breaking away from the things that maybe their parents want for them, but what they themselves don’t want,” Coambs said. The cast is made up mostly of students at IUP who auditioned last spring and spent the summer. For a lot of the students involved, it is their first time performing in an opera. For the others, such as some of the principal characters, it is their first time singing in a full-length opera. Meagan Shaw (senior, music) plays Ma Moss. She described what is like to go from being a musician to an opera singer and actress. “Participating in the show is a great experience,” Shaw said. “This is definitely out of my comfort zone, since I am a trumpet major. I have learned so much about singing and acting over the semester. The biggest challenge for me was putting a lot of emotion into my acting.”
3rd Place:
Sam Houston State University 
Rebecca Renfro Grimes, director        Huntsville, TX
for L'enfant et les sortileges

Sam Houston State University
SHSU Opera is a 25-member collegiate performing group comprised entirely of undergraduate singers.  The focus of this ensemble is to provide performance training for young musicians who wish to pursue opera studies after their undergraduate career.  SHSU Opera’s yearly performance schedule includes one scenes program, one full production, and one summer intensive.  In addition, this group represents the SHSU School of Music in various outreach events in the region.  SHSU Opera was awarded the 2015 American Prize for Collegiate Opera Production, and second place in the 2015 National Opera Association Music Theatre scenes competition. The ensemble was also a finalist in the NOA Opera Scenes Competitions in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.  This 2015 production of Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortileges represents a collaboration with the SHSU Department of Dance, and features the choreography of SHSU Dance professor Dana Nicolay and costume designer Barry Doss.  SHSU Opera is under the direction of Rebecca Renfro Grimes.
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The American Prize is honored to announce the winners, runners-up and honorable mentions of The American Prize in Conducting, Band/Wind Ensemble Divisions, 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, Band/Wind Ensemble: College/University Division, 2015.

The American Prize winner:
David Vickerman 
The College of New Jersey Wind Ensemble    Ewing, NJ 
David Vickerman
David Vickerman is the Director of Bands at The College of New Jersey. In addition to conducting the Wind Ensemble, he teaches the instrumental conducting sequence and courses in the music education curriculum. In the few years since becoming the conductor of the Wind Ensemble, he has been able to establish it as a regional model for performance excellence – performing in concert by invitation at the CBDNA Eastern Div. Conference in March of 2014. Prior to his appointment at TCNJ, he held the position of Director of Bands at Johns Hopkins University where he conducted the Wind Ensemble. In addition to his duties at TCNJ, he is the founder and artistic director of X Trigger, a contemporary music ensemble in New Jersey and the Associate Conductor of Great Noise Ensemble in Washington D.C.
2nd Place:
Mark Tse 
New England Conservatory Symphonic Winds   Boston, MA 
Mark Tse
Mark Tse is a Canadian-born freelance conductor beginning his doctoral studies in conducting with Timothy Salzman at the University of Washington in Seattle. He recently completed his masters in conducting with Charles Peltz at the New England Conservatory in Boston. While there, he has premiered new works, taught conducting classes and conducted rehearsals with NEC’s Symphonic Winds. Tse also helped organize the College Band Directors National Association's regional conference “Crossing Over” which NEC hosted. In September he will begin his doctoral studies in conducting at the University of Washington.

Tse has been invited to participate at many conducting symposiums including the Wintergreen Conductors' Summit with scholarship (orchestral), the Bard Conductors' Institute (orchestral) with scholarship, the Frederick Fennell Memorial Conducting Masterclass at the Eastman School of Music (wind), and the Hartt Instrumental Conducting Clinic (wind) through a scholarship by the College Band Directors National Association.
3rd Place: (there was a tie)
Jaclyn Hartenberger 
University of Georgia Wind Symphony    Athens, GA 
Jaclyn Hartenberger
Jaclyn Hartenberger serves as the Associate Director of Bands and Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Georgia. In addition to serving as the conductor for the Wind Symphony, she teaches undergraduate and graduate conducting. Dr. Hartenberger received a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from The University of Texas at Austin, under the tutelage of Jerry F. Junkin. Prior to her graduate degree work she served as a middle school and high school band director in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex for distinguished music programs. Dr. Hartenberger received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of North Texas, where she performed and recorded with the prestigious UNT Wind Symphony.

Dr. Hartenberger has served as a visiting conductor in concert with the West Point Band in New York; the University of Missouri Wind Ensemble in St. Louis, Missouri; and most recently traveled to Brazil serving as visiting professor and wind band conductor for the Festival International de Inverno da USFM
3rd Place: (there was a tie)
Charlie G. Blanco III 
ASU Wind Orchestra & Wind Ensemble    Tempe, AZ
Charlie G. Blanco III
Trae Blanco? ?is currently a candidate for a DMA wind conducting degree at the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University?. ?Mr?. ?Blanco also holds a Master of Music degree in wind conducting from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music as well as a Bachelor of Music Education degree from New Mexico State University?.?

Under his direction the New Mexico Music Educators Association selected the Las Cruces High School Jazz Band e in 2010? ?as the New Mexico All State Honor Jazz Band as well as the Symphonic Winds in 2011? ?as the Honor Concert Band?. ?Mr?. ?Blanco was the recipient of the New Mexico Music Educators New and Emerging Teacher Award in 2010?, ?and a finalist in the American Prize in Conducing in 2014?. ?Mr?. ?Blanco currently resides in Phoenix?, ?AZ with his wife Kelsey Blanco?.? More info at traeblanco.com



The American Prize in Conducting, Band/Wind Ensemble: Community/School Division, 2015.

The American Prize winner,
and in recognition of his more than 30 years' contribution to music education in Iowa:
Brian Hughes 
Quad City Wind Ensemble    Davenport, IA 

Brian Hughes
Lauded by Iowa Public Radio as a “major figure in Iowa arts,” Brian Hughes is an active conductor at home and abroad.  Following his European debut with the Northern Iowa Chamber Winds in Eger, Hungary (1993), he has led ensembles in the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Russia.  He is the founder of Dubuque’s Tri-State Wind Symphony and also leads the Quad City (IA) Wind Ensemble and the Bettendorf (IA) Park Band.

Following secondary school positions in Iowa and Illinois, he was a faculty member at Loras College (Dubuque) for 15 years.  Concurrently, he served as a graduate associate conductor, and associate lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He has degrees in music education and conducting from Olivet College (MI), the University of Northern Iowa, and the University of Wisconsin.

Hughes has won conducting prizes from the Hradec Kralove Philharmonic and the West Bohemian Philharmonic.  He is a two-time winner of UW-Madison’s Church Conducting Prize.  In recognition of his "outstanding contribution to the arts," he was presented the Elisha Darlin Award, given by the Dubuque County Fine Arts Society.

2nd Place:  
Shawn Smith 
Banda Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo    Sao Paulo, Brazil  
Shawn Smith
Dr. Shawn Smith is Associate Professor of Conducting and Director of Bands at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In high demand as a band and orchestra conductor, Smith has been invited to conduct throughout the United States and internationally.
Smith has conducted professional ensembles including the Corpus Christi Symphony (Texas), and members of the Charlotte Symphony and conducts regularly throughout Brazil including a number of guest conducting engagements with one of the finest professional bands in South America, the State Symphonic Band of São Paulo. Equally at home with opera and musical theater productions, Smith has conducted pit orchestras for the Marriage of Figaro and a six-week run of Les Misérables.
Smith has presented numerous clinics and speeches, most notably at the International Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, and has presented research at national and international conferences in the United States, Europe and South America.


HONORABLE MENTION:
Ryan Yahl 
New Bremen High School Symphonic Band    
New Bremen, OH
Ryan Yahl
Ryan Yahl is currently in his ninth year of teaching, and sixth as director of bands in the New Bremen Local School District, where he oversees the instrumental music program in grades 5-12.  A native of Wapakoneta, Yahl attended Bowling Green State University, where he earned his bachelors (2006) and masters (2009) degrees in music education. While at BGSU, Yahl studied percussion with Michael Sander and Roger Schupp, and conducting with Emily Freeman Brown, Carol Hayward, Kenneth Thompson, and Bruce Moss.  As an undergraduate, Yahl was awarded the Dr. Richard and Annette Ecker Award in Music Education, and the Mark and Helen Kelly University Band Award.  Yahl is a past President of the BGSU Band Alumni Society, and currently serves as President of OMEA District III, and as the Region 3 Representative for ASBDA. 
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The American Prize is honored to announce the winners, runners-up and honorable mentions of The American Prize in Band/Wind Ensemble 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 Band/Wind Ensemble Performance, 2015, college/university division:

The American Prize winner:
Illinois State Univ. Wind Symphony 
Dr Martin H. Seggelke, director
Normal, IL

Illinois State Univ. Wind Symphony
The Wind Symphony, ISU's premier wind band, is known nationally and internationally as one of the leading collegiate wind ensembles in North America. Conducted by Dr. Martin H. Seggelke, this select group of the finest instrumentalists at Illinois State University has been praised for its professional performance quality by audiences, composers, and critics. In addition to at least 8 performances of standard and newly composed works from the wind band literature, on the ISU campus each year, the Wind Symphony records annually and tours regularly. The Wind Symphony has been a featured performing ensemble at the American Bandmasters Association Convention, the Illinois Music Educators Association Conference, the College Band Directors National Association Convention, and the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic. The Wind Symphony is proud to have enjoyed close relationships with the finest composers writing for wind bands, including David Maslanka, Karel Husa, Michael Colgrass, and many others.


2nd Place:
Baylor University Wind Ensemble
Eric Wilson, director
Waco, TX
Baylor University Wind Ensemble
The Baylor Wind Ensemble is the premier wind band of the Baylor University School of Music and has been praised as “one of the flagship programs in the nation.” Performances at previous state and national conferences—including the American Bandmasters Association, College Band Directors National Association, Texas Music Educators Association, and The Midwest Clinic—were characterized as “nothing short of spectacular” and “representing the best in wind band performance.”

Since 2006, more than thirty collaborations with guest composers, conductors, and performers have provided compelling perspectives and inspiring interactions for Baylor students and faculty. Graduates of the Baylor Wind Ensemble hold distinguished teaching positions at the elementary, secondary, and collegiate levels.

Additionally, former members of the group have secured appointments in orchestras around the world, as well as in leading military bands of the armed services. ?To find recordings, photos, and event announcements, follow the Baylor University Wind Ensemble on Facebook.

3rd Place:
The College of New Jersey Wind Ensemble
David Vickerman, director
Ewing, NJ
The College of New Jersey Wind Ensemble
The Wind Ensemble is the premiere wind band at The College of New Jersey. This auditioned ensemble is made up primarily of music majors. In addition to a full season of concerts on campus, the Wind Ensemble has performed across the state and also at numerous conferences including NJMEA and CBDNA Eastern Division. In the three years that Dr. Vickerman has led the Wind Ensemble, projects have included: new music reading sessions, working with composer Viet Cuong, two world premieres, a performance of Karel Husa’s Music for Prague that showcased the work of documentary photographer Josef Koudelka and a concert featuring compositions that explored issues of social justice paired with historical photography from the Civil Rights Era, amongst many others.


The American Prize in Band/Wind Ensemble Performance, 2015, community/school division: 
The American Prize winner:
Cleveland Winds
Birch P. Browning, director
Cleveland, OH
Cleveland Winds
The Cleveland Winds is a professional-quality community wind ensemble based at Cleveland State University. The ensemble roster includes many of the best musicians in the Cleveland area, including professional performers, music educators, and exceptional amateur musicians. The Cleveland Winds provides world-class performances for the sophisticated music audience in Northeast Ohio. Repertoire for the ensemble includes only the finest original works and transcriptions for contemporary wind band. See clevelandwinds.org for more information.

The Music Director of the Cleveland Winds is Dr. Birch Browning, Associate Professor of Music Education and Director of Bands at Cleveland State University. Dr. Browning taught high school band and orchestra in Florida prior to earning a Ph.D. in Music Education at Florida State University in 2002. Dr. Browning previously taught at Stetson University and FSU. Dr. Browning’s forthcoming book, Becoming a Musician-Educator: An Orientation to Musical Pedagogy, will be published by Oxford University Press.
 

2nd Place:
Quincy Concert Band
Trent A. Hollinger, director
Quincy, IL
Quincy Concert Band
Serving the Quincy, Illinois community since 1982, the Quincy Concert Band is a volunteer organization comprised of adult musicians from the greater Quincy area.  The dedication and determination of many are responsible for the continued growth and success of the band. The very existence of this organization is one of the “quality of life” factors that set Quincy apart from so many communities. Band members range from music educators and professionals to adults who have not played their instrument for years but have returned and regained the joy of playing.  The band is open to any adult who has a desire to play their instrument.  The band’s motto remains “A Richer, Fuller Life through Music!”


3rd Place:
Metropolitan Wind SymphonyLewis J. Buckley, director
Boston, MA
Metropolitan Wind Symphony
Founded in 1971, the Metropolitan Wind Symphony comprises 55 talented woodwind, brass, and percussion instrumentalists who audition for membership and seating. The MWS makes a significant contribution to the cultural life of the Greater Boston community by providing its audiences with high quality concerts and its members with opportunities for musical growth.

The MWS presents formal performances of traditional and contemporary wind band literature, as well as informal pops concerts. Members travel to rehearsals from over thirty communities in Massachusetts and neighboring states. All volunteers, they pursue careers in education, high technology, medicine, law, music, and public health.

The MWS has commissioned 26 works for wind band since 1982; many have been published and performed by other bands worldwide.

The Boston Festival of Bands, founded in 1989 by the MWS and celebrated annually at historic Faneuil Hall, includes performances by bands from throughout the Northeast.

Visit MWS @ http://www.mws-boston.org


HONORABLE MENTION:
Parkview High School Symphonic Band
Jason Atha, director
Lilburn, GA
Parkview High School Symphonic Band
Founded in 1978, The Parkview Symphonic Band located near Atlanta, Georgia offers an academically rigorous and musically enriching course of study for the students at Parkview High School .The Parkview Symphonic Band was extremely competitive on the National Adjudicators Invitational (NAI) circuit, participating in numerous regional NAI events throughout the southeast.  In 2005 after three prior appearances, the Parkview Symphonic Band was awarded the “Band of Distinction” at the Grand NAI Invited Festival in Washington D.C. Recently the band was invited to play at the Music for All Southeastern Concert Festival at Georgia State University. The Parkview Symphonic Band is one of five schools in Georgia and 74 across the country to be awarded the coveted John Sousa Foundation Sudler Flag of Honor and the ensemble has been placed on the “Historic Roll of Honor of Distinguished High School Concert Bands”. http://www.parkviewband.net


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David Katz
David Katz, founder and chief judge of The American Prize national nonprofit competitions in the performing arts, has been selected as one of Musical America's "Professionals of the Year—a Key Influencer" for 2016.

"The Musical America 'Professionals of the Year' are the performing arts industry's best-known and most prestigious innovators and market shakers. For over 100 years, Musical America Worldwide has been the voice of the performing arts industry."

DIANE WITTRY
Bravo, Maestro Katz! And congratulations, as well, to recent TAP laureate, Diane Wittry, music  director of the Allentown (PA) Symphony Orchestra, who was also honored.

Read the full story here:
http://www.musicalamerica.com/news/?categoryid=7
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The American Prize is honored to announce the winners, runners-up, honorable mentions and citations recipients in the choral music divisions of The American Prize in Composition, 2015. Congratulations, and thank you for such a stimulating contest, full of exceptional chorus music in a broad variety of styles and for various uses.

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 Composition, 2015—choral music (professional division):

The American Prize winner:
Travis Alford    West Newton MA
   O Fragile Human, Speak... 
Travis Alford
Travis Alford (b. 1983) is a composer, trumpeter, and improviser whose music has been heard across the United States and abroad. He has received recognition for his work by the League of Composers/ISCM, ASCAP, the American Composers Alliance, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Brandeis Office of the Arts. As a trumpeter, Travis has performed with the New England Philharmonic, the Boston New Music Initiative, the Equilibrium Concert Series, New Music Brandeis, the Park Street Brass, and the Northeast Italian Band.

Travis currently teaches at Johnston Community College in Smithfield, NC, and has held previous positions at MIT, Brandeis University, and Gordon College. He holds degrees from Brandeis (PhD, Music Composition and Theory, '14), the New England Conservatory (MM '08), and East Carolina University (BM '05). He lives in Clayton, NC with his wife Lauren, son Owen, and their dog Toby.


2nd Place (there was a tie):
Stephen R. Bernstein    West Hills CA
   To Speed Them All 
Stephen R. Bernstein
Steven Bernstein is a five-time Emmy-winning composer for films and television whose commercial music spans genres from horror to cartoons. His music can be heard in the television series Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain and Baby Looney Tunes to name a few. Most recently, he scored the grisly horror films “Pernicious” and “Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys”.

Steven has also written extensively for the concert hall. He has had several commissions for large-scale works, both choral and orchestral, and for various chamber ensembles. Two movements for his suite for two violins were premiered in the Oregon Bach Festival in 2013.

As an accomplished conductor and orchestrator, he has worked on numerous motion pictures, TV productions and popular video games. His orchestrations can be heard in such films as Skyfall, The Amazing Spiderman, The Perfect Storm and many others. Visit resinousmusic.com for more information.


2nd Place (there was a tie):
David Feurzeig    Huntington VT
   Songs of Love and Protest on Traditional Texts 
David Feurzeig
The music of David Feurzeig has been performed throughout the US and in New Zealand, Asia, and Europe. He was twice a featured guest of the International Composer’s Festival in Bangkok. His Songs of Love and Protest were sung by the Dresden Chamber Chorus for the city’s 800th jubilee in the fabled Semper Opera House. He has been awarded the Silver Medal of the Royal Academy of Arts (London), a Beebe fellowship, and grants from the American Composers Federation and Meet the Composer. A pianist as well, he specializes in eclectic lecture-recitals featuring music from the classics to stride piano, jazz, and new music. He is a professor of composition and theory at the University of Vermont, where he has fulfilled commissions for the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble, and the Bella Voce Women’s Choir.


3rd Place: 
Shawn Crouch    Miami Beach FL
   Paradise 
Shawn Crouch
Gramophone Magazine calls Shawn Crouch a "gifted composer" and Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times describes Shawn Crouch's work as music of "gnarling atonal energy". The Miami Herald called his Road From Hiroshima; A Requiem a "staggering achievement, an imaginative, powerful and deeply moving work" making the Miami Herald and Sun Sentinel's 2005 Classical Music Standouts. Shawn has received awards and accolades from such prestigious institutions as the American Academy of Arts and Letters, ASCAP, Yale University, Meet the Composer and the Percussive Arts Society. He is the inaugural recipient of the Dale Warland Singers Commissioning Award given by Chorus America and the American Composers Forum.

Shawn Crouch has been a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center as well as a composition fellow at the Norfolk Music Festival.  Mr. Crouch received his B.Mus. in composition from the New England Conservatory, and his M.Mus. in composition from the Yale School of Music.



The American Prize in Composition, 2015—choral music (professional division):
HONORABLE MENTIONS


Jeffrey Bernstein    Altadena CA
   Pablo Neruda In Love
Jeffrey Bernstein
Jeffrey Bernstein is a California-based composer, conductor, pianist and educator. He is founding director of the Pasadena Master Chorale and artistic director of the Los Angeles Daiku. Known for his ability to inspire performers and audiences alike, Bernstein builds musical bridges between people. He has led choirs on fourteen tours of four continents and traveled extensively as a guest conductor, directing choirs and orchestras in Europe, Japan and throughout this country. Recently premiered works include Dreams of Japan with the Tokushima Symphony, Fukushima Requiem with the Los Angeles Daiku Orchestra, and The Human Journey, commissioned and premiered by the L.A. Choral Lab. Bernstein has released two albums of improvised piano music, PianoJournals (2012) and Clear Mind Calm Water (2015). He holds music degrees from Harv


Jeffrey Cobb    Traverse City MI
   Absalom
Jeffrey Cobb
Jeffrey Cobb lives and works in Traverse City, Michigan where he is the Director of Music Programs and Choirs at Northwestern Michigan College. Jeffrey is a regularly commissioned composer and his pieces have won several awards including honors from the Ithaca Choir Composition Contest, the New York Virtuoso Singers Choral Composition Contest, the Measure for Measure Choral Competition Contest, the Vanguard Premieres Choral Composition Contest, the Summit Chorale’s Composition Contest, the Outside the Bachs International Choral Music Competition, the C7Prize, and the Composition Competition of the Chiayi City (Taiwan) International Band Festival. His choral works are published through G. Schirmer, Santa Barbara Music, Walton Music, Colla Voce, and Roger Dean Publishing. Jeffrey is also a sought after composer and arranger in other genres. His music can be heard on several television series, radio spots, and in television advertisements. To hear a sample of his works, please visit www.jeffreycobb.com.


Christina Brice Dolanc    Erie PA 
   Silence, the New Moon
Christina Brice Dolanc
The choral music of Christina Brice Dolanc, violinist, vocalist, and composer, has been described as “neo-impressionistic” and “emotionally enchanting.” With a BM and MM in violin performance, Christina is a symphony performer, lesson instructor, and string quartet coordinator, in northern California for 12 years, and now recently relocated to northwestern Pennsylvania. Her extensive choral training, which includes study throughout college and 8 years in semi-professional vocal ensembles, combined with her career as a violinist paints her choral writing with a unique aesthetic. Christina began composing for choral ensemble in 2012 and has since been greeted with 7 premieres, 4 commissions, winning the Mary Bussman Emerging Female Composer Competition (Twin Cities Women’s Choir, Minneapolis, MN), awarded as “Recommended Work” for the C7Prize and semi-finalist for The American Prize, work featured in workshop by Musica Intima (Vancouver, BC), and commission for larger-scale work by the Erie Chamber Orchestra (PA), for strings and vocal ensemble. www.cbricedolanccomposer.com

Danny Gray    Briarcliff Manor NY
   Under the Night Sky 
Danny Gray
Danny Gray is an internationally awarded composer of film scores and concert music, with a love for multimedia collaboration and musical storytelling.

He has contributed music to over 300 episodes of major network television - including programs such as NBC Dateline, 20/20, NY Med and Good Morning America.  His film scores have been heard at South by Southwest, FanTasia, and various other regional and international festivals.  In 2013 he composed the score to the short comedy film Hell No, which became a viral internet sensation garnering over 5 million views in 5 days.

In concert and theatrical music, Danny has written incidental music for productions by Virtual Arts TV, and as composer-in-residence for The Theatre Project in NYC.  He was a recipient of the Manhattan Choral Ensemble's 2015 New Music for New York commission, and winner of the Australian Boys Choir 2014 Composition Competition.

Danny is a graduate of the Purchase College Conservatory of Music, and has studied film scoring at New York University and the University of Southern California.
For more information, visit Danny’s website, www.dannygraymusic.com.


Elise Letourneau    Orleans ON
   Sanctus Benedictus, Psaume 23
Elise Letourneau
Elise Letourneau is an accomplished performer, arranger, educator, and award-winning composer. She is the founding music director of Capital Vox Jazz Choir, which has been heralded as Canada's first community jazz choir. Elise also established and directs Vox Eclectica Women's Chamber Choir. With her background in classical, jazz, and contemporary styles, Elise brings a varied palette of sound and experience to her music. An associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre, her music has been sung by the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Canada's National Youth Choir, the Toronto Children's Chorus, the Cantiamo Children’s Choir, and others. She has performed with many internationally acclaimed musicians including Sheila Jordan, Oliver Lake, Janet Lawson, Bob Dorough, Paula Cole, Dan Haerle, and others. Elise received her music training at Humber College and Berklee College of Music. Her catalogue includes new music for voice, choir, piano, string quartet, and winds; as well as hundreds of custom choral arrangements. Please visit www.eliseletourneau.com for more information.


John Orfe    Peoria IL
   Fire 
John Orfe
John Orfe has fulfilled commissions for the Sacrum Profanum International Festival, Duo Montagnard, Dez Cordas, Alarm Will Sound, the NOVUS Trombone Quartet, Ludovico, the Music Institute of Chicago, the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lila Muni Gamelan Ensemble, and choral groups across the US. His recognitions include a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, a Tanglewood Music Center Fellowship, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the William Schuman and Boudleaux Bryant Prizes from BMI, and thirteen Standard Awards and the Morton Gould Award from ASCAP. His works for solo, chamber, choral and orchestral ensembles have been performed in Russia, Denmark, Canada, Germany, the Baltics, the Balkans, Italy, the United Kingdom, Australia, Thailand and throughout the US, earning praise from The New York Times, LAWeekly, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Die Welt, and Hamburger Abendblatt. As a pianist he has earned critical acclaim for his interpretations of five centuries of keyboard repertoire ranging from the canonic to the arcane. Dr. Orfe is Assistant Professor of Music at Bradley University and has taught at Dickinson College and Yale University.



Eric Sawyer    Amherst MA 
   Anterooms
Eric Sawyer
The music of Eric Sawyer receives frequent performances on both coasts, including at New York’s Weill and Merkin concert halls and at Tanglewood, as well as in England, France, and China.  Sawyer’s opera Our American Cousin was premiered in 2008 by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and released on the BMOP/sound label.  A second opera, The Garden of Martyrs, received its premiere from the Springfield Symphony in September 2013. A third, The Scarlet Professor, will be performed in workshop in June 2015.  Other recent works including Fantasy Concerto: Concord Conversations, composed for the piano trio Triple Helix and the Concord Orchestra. A chamber collection String Works and the cantata The Humble Heart are available on CD from Albany Records.  Mr. Sawyer has received the Joseph Bearns Prize, awards from the Tanglewood Music Center and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is on the music faculty at Amherst College. website: www.ericsawyer.net


Katherine Saxon   Santa Barbara CA
   Kubla Khan
Katherine Saxon
Katherine Saxon was born in Santa Monica, California and recently completed her Ph.D. in Music at the University of California, Santa Barbara, studying with Joel Feigin. While at UCSB she founded New Century Voices, an ensemble that workshops and performs music written by students. Katherine also holds a BA from Williams College where she studied composition with Ileana Perez-Velazquez and voice with Brad Wells and a Masters of Music from the University of Oregon where she studied with Robert Kyr and David Crumb. Her work Speed and Perfection received first prize in the San Francisco Choral Artists’ 2012 New Voices Competition. Navona Records released East of the Sun/ West of the Moon and Vox Dilect Mei on the album Polarities: exploring the contemporary expanse in March 2014. This winter she spent five weeks at the Banff Centre in Alberta working on her science fiction opera, The Cradle of Dreams. katherinesaxon.com


Ken Walicki    Fullerton CA
   just like a dream experience
Ken Walicki
Ken Walicki is widely recognized and acknowledged for his dramatic, engaging music. He has received grants and commissions from ACF, the NEA, the Jerome Foundation, the Kronos Quartet, ETHEL, the New Century Saxophone Quartet, the Soldier String Quartet, the Mary Flagler Cary Trust, and Meet the Composer.  He is composer-in-residence for the Divan Consort. As a Fulbright scholar, he studied with Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Helmut Lachenmann, and in master classes with Copland, Barber, and William Schumann. Walicki has collaborated with artists from the classical, pop, theater, film, and dance worlds.  He was the founder and composer of the Ken Valitsky Ensemble.  He was the first composer to have turntables as a regular instrument in a ensemble. Walicki was on the faculty at NYU, and Istanbul Technical University.  He is director of composition at Cal State, Fullerton.  His music is available on Knitting Factory Works, C.R.I., CRS Artists, and Channel Records.


The American Prize in Composition, 2015—choral music (professional division):
SPECIAL JUDGES' CITATIONS

Kathleen McGuire, Andy Payne and Jonathon Welch   Parkville, Australia
   Street Requiem 
"Dignifying the Homeless Through Song"
Kathleen McGuire
Australian-born Kathleen McGuire DMA became a US citizen in 2010. She composed Street Requiem in 2014 in collaboration with Australian composers Jonathon Welch AM and Andy Payne as a response to increased violence and a loss of safety on our streets. The cantata, which has been premiered in Australia - and in the US with soloist Frederica von Stade - was featured on NPR. McGuire has conducted in many countries in such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the Sydney Opera House. In 2010 she founded Singers of the Street (SOS) in San Francisco – a choir of people at risk of homelessness. Recognising her contributions, “Kathleen McGuire Day” was designated twice by San Francisco. In 2013 she returned to Australia, assuming positions as Director of Music at Queen’s College – The University of Melbourne and co-Artistic Director of the School of Hard Knocks. www.schoolofhardknocks.org.au


Otter Dreaming   Decorah IA
   selected works
"Charming Music for Singing and Playing Together"


Otter Dreaming
Otter Dreaming was born in Iowa in 1957. As a child, he took piano lessons and relished the countryside. He lives with his husband and three-year-old daughter in a small, rural community where he gardens, gives piano lessons, performs and composes.


The American Prize in Composition, 2015—choral music (student division):

The American Prize winner:
KYLE RANDALL selected works
San Francisco CA
KYLE RANDALL
Kyle Randall is an internationally-performed composer, with premieres across the world from Carnegie Hall to La Schola Cantorum in Paris and Harvard's Memorial Hall, and he has received commissions from renowned groups such as the Harvard Glee Club and the Juventas New Music Ensemble. In his music, Kyle strives for vividness and sincerity, and he enjoys writing in a wide variety of styles. Listeners have commented on his directness and clarity of expression, and appreciate his willingness to draw on the past as well as the present in his writing. Born and raised in New Hampshire, Kyle received a B.A. from Harvard, where he studied composition with Chaya Czernowin, Hans Tutschku, Richard Beaudoin, and Trevor Baca, and he is currently pursuing a Master's in composition from San Francisco Conservatory, studying with David Garner. In his spare time, he likes to read, cook, hike, and ski. www.kylerandall.com


2nd Place:
KEITH ALLEGRETTI "Three Nocturnes"
Santa Fe NM
KEITH ALLEGRETTI
A native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Keith Allegretti is a composer and pianist who enjoys working comfortably in many genres, including chamber, orchestral, vocal, and electronic music, and even musical theater. His music has been performed in Santa Fe, Houston, Berlin, Ann Arbor, New York and elsewhere by professional and amateur ensembles, including Santa Fe New Music, Quartetto Indaco, the Rice University Chorale, the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra, Circuit Bridges, the Santa Fe Community Orchestra, and the American Creators Ensemble. He holds degrees in composition from Rice University and the University of Michigan. For more information, please visit www.keithallegretti.com.


3rd Place:
JULIA SEEHOLZER selected works
Santa Monica CA
JULIA SEEHOLZER
Julia Seeholzer (b. 1990) takes much of her compositional influence from color – intervalic relationships conjure specific hues, which in turn dictate a piece’s direction. She is currently finishing her Master’s degree in composition at Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, where she studies with Joel Hoffman. Julia received her B.M. in composition from Berklee College of Music, where she graduated summa cum laude.

Julia’s pieces have been played by the ensembles including the Esterhazy String Quartet, Kalistos Chamber Orchestra, Trio d’Esprit, and members of the LA Philharmonic. She has presented work in master classes with John Corigliano, Robert Carl, Craig Hella Johnson, and others. In 2011, she attended Yale’s New Music Workshop as a composition fellow to study with Martin Bresnick. Julia has had works commissioned by groups such as the Tenuto Chamber Singers, WomenSing, and the University of Chicago's Camerata. To learn more about Julia, please visit her website at www.juliaseeholzer.com.

The American Prize in Composition—Chorus 
(student division)
SPECIAL JUDGES CITATION: "Career Encouragement Certificate"

DANIEL KNAGGS
selected works
Jackson MI
DANIEL KNAGGS
Daniel J. Knaggs, native of southeast Michigan, is a concert composer working in a wide range of media and styles. He has lived in France, Mexico, and Nicaragua and many aspects of these diverse cultures and languages find their way into his music.

Daniel’s music is heard in concert halls, churches, and radio broadcasts in both Europe and the Americas. In the last three years, his compositions have secured performances throughout the UK, France, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Lithuania, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, and USA.

Daniel completed his master’s degree in music composition at Bowling Green State University in 2009 and graduated in 2007 from the University of Michigan with bachelor’s degrees in voice performance and Spanish. His composition teachers include Bright Sheng, Marilyn Shrude, Karim Al-Zand, Pierre Jalbert, and Arthur Gottschalk. Daniel was a full-time high school Spanish teacher for three years (2009-2012) and is now pursuing a doctorate in music composition at Rice University Shepherd School of Music.


HONORABLE MENTION: 
ANDREY STOLYAROV i won't even stop
Verona NJ 
ANDREY STOLYAROV
Andrey Stolyarov (b. 1990) is a composer, conductor, and singer, currently beginning his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Composition at The Hartt School in West Hartford, CT. Andrey’s recent achievements in composition include a residency at the Unitarian Society of Hartford and multiple national and international premieres. His piece Ebb & Flow won first prize at the 2014 ISAM Festival Joseph Dorfman International Composition Competition in Ochsenhausen, Germany. Additionally, Andrey was a finalist in the 2014 ASCAP Morton Gould competition and the Khorikos ensemble’s ORTUS competition. Andrey is currently the Director of Music at West Avon Congregational Church in Avon, CT, and is a graduate music theory teaching fellow at The Hartt School. He is an active professional choral singer in the Hartford and New Haven areas, currently performing with the CONCORA ensemble based out of New Britain, CT. www.andreystolyarov.com 


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Congratulations to all 2015 composition laureates.
7 months ago | |
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