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The American Prize
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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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The American Prize is honored to announce the winner and runners-up of The American Prize in Conducting: School & Community 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: School & Community Chorus Division, 2015.

The American Prize winner:
Matthew Phelps
    West End UMC Chancel Choir    Nashville, TN

Matthew Phelps
Matthew Phelps is the Minister of Music at West End United Methodist Church in Nashville, TN.  As the leader of one of the nation’s premiere church music programs, Dr. Phelps conducts the 75 voice Chancel Choir in worship and concerts with members of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.    Dr. Phelps is also the principal guest conductor of the Tri-County Master Chorale in Port St. Lucie, FL where he led an inaugural performance of Verdi’s Requiem.  He is scheduled to conduct Mozart’s Vespers of the Confessor K. 339 at Carnegie Hall in June of 2017 with Mid-America Productions.  Dr. Phelps has served churches in Cincinnati and New York; and has taught at Xavier University and Lipscomb University.  His choirs have performed at conventions for the Music Educator’s National Conference and the American Choral Director’s Association.     Dr. Phelps holds a bachelor’s degree from Wright State University in piano performance and his graduate degrees from the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati where he studied conducting with Earl Rivers, Stephen Coker, Brett Scott, and Mark Gibson.  www.matthewphelps.net 



2nd Place:
Timothy Michael Powell
    The Davidson Chorale    Augusta, GA

Timothy Michael Powell
Timothy Michael Powell is the Director of Choral Activities at the prestigious Davidson Fine Arts School in Augusta, GA and conducts the Davidson Chorale, winners of the 2012 American Prize in Choral Performance. Dr. Powell received both his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Church Music with honors from Belmont University as a Dean and Mathis Scholar, and his DMA in Conducting from the University of South Carolina. He was a 1999 National Choristers Guild Scholar, and a 2002 Fulbright Scholar to Bulgaria. Lauded by New York Concert Reviews as “a skilled composer who understands the voice in all stages of development,” his compositions include numerous major works, including Wedding Mass, premiered at Carnegie Hall, and Saint George and the Dragon and American Prize semi-finalist Incarnatio Mysteria, both premiered at Lincoln Center. He is a frequent guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator. He and his wife Jennifer have three beautiful children. www.timothymichaelpowell.com.


3rd Place:
Emily Isaacson
    Oratorio Chorale    Brunswick, ME

Emily Isaacson
Emily Isaacson is recognized for her versatility, sensitivity and energy. Her 2014 direction of Brahms' Requiem was heralded as "one of the most moving musical events of the decade” by the Portland Press Herald and "sublime" by the Times Record. Isaacson serves as the Artistic Director of the Oratorio Chorale, the Director of Choral Activities at Clark University in Worcester, Chorus Director of the Bowdoin International Music Festival Chorus, and visiting faculty in music at Bowdoin College. A graduate of Williams College, Isaacson was awarded the St. Andrews Society Fellowship for graduate study in Scotland, where she earned a master’s degree in musicology from Edinburgh University. She holds a second master’s degree from the University of Oregon and is currently a candidate for the doctorate in musical arts in choral conducting at the University of Illinois. Emily lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and one-year old daughter. isaacsonemily.com


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

The American Prize winner:
Jun Kim
    University of Wisconsin Milwaukee    Milwaukee, WI
    for Suor Angelica

Jun Kim
The recent prize winner of 2013 Orquesta de Cordoba Conducting Competition in Spain and 2012 Black Sea Conducting Competition in Romania, Jun Kim has conducted extensively in North America and Europe. Jun Kim has appeared with the orchestras in Romania, Russia, Germany, Austria, Spain, Lithuania, Poland, Canada and US.  He has been selected as a Discovery Series Conductor at the Oregon Bach Festival under Maestro Helmuth Rilling and the Kurt Masur conducting seminar in New York. In addition, he has worked for the production of Verdi's La Traviata at National University of Music in Bucharest, Romania. Most recently, Jun Kim has been selected to participate at St. Magnus Festival in U.K. to work with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and worked with Cincinnati Symphony and the May festival Chorus, and also with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with Marin Alsop.  Dr. Jun Kim is the director of orchestral activities at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and artistic director of Washington Chamber Orchestra in D.C.


2nd Place:
Brian DeMaris
    Mill City Summer Opera    Ithaca, NY
    for Tosca

Brian DeMaris
Brian DeMaris currently serves as Music Director of Mill City Summer Opera and Artist-Faculty at the Aspen Music Festival. He has worked with New York City Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Syracuse Opera, Tri-Cities Opera, Anchorage Opera, American Opera Projects, American Lyric Theater, Ash Lawn Opera Festival, Music Saint Croix and the Israel Chamber Orchestra. He has appeared at the United Nations, the Aspen Music Festival, Boston’s Jordan Hall, New York’s Studio 54, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, Alice Tully Hall, and in recitals, competitions, and master classes throughout the United States and abroad. He is the 2nd place winner of the 2013 American Prize in Opera and Musical Theater Conducting. Having served as Director of Opera and Musical Theatre at Ithaca College since 2008, in 2015 he joined the faculty of Arizona State University as Artistic Director of the Lyric Opera Theatre program.

DeMaris has also taught at Lawrence University, New England Conservatory School of Continuing Education, George Mason University's International Opera Alliance, the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, and "Meet the Artist" at Lincoln Center. He has served on panels with Opera America and the National Opera Association, and presented master classes with the National Association of Teachers of Singing, New York State Music Teachers Association and New York State School Music Association. His students have performed on Broadway, film and television, and at opera companies and festivals throughout the world.


3rd Place:
Michael Sakir
    Northwestern University Bienen School of Music
    Evanston, IL
    for Dead Man Walking (Heggie)

Michael Sakir
In the 2014-15 season, Michael Sakir makes his conducting debuts at Northwestern University for the Chicago premiere of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, American Opera Projects for the touring premiere production of Laura Kaminsky's As One, Opera in the Ozarks for Rossini's La Cenerentola, and Opera North (NH) for Aaron Copland's The Tender Land. Sakir also returns to the Boston Opera Collaborative as conductor and harpsichordist for Handel's Rinaldo. Sakir has held chorus master, assistant conductor, and coach positions for nearly three dozen productions with Santa Fe Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Pensacola Opera, and Opera Boston. Between 2008 and 2013, Sakir received critical acclaim as Music Director of the Boston Opera Collaborative’s The Magic Flute, Carmen, Little Women (for which he was awarded 3rd Place in the 2011 American Prize in Conducting - Opera Division), and Dead Man Walking. www.michaelsakir.com


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

The American Prize winner:
Dan Whisler
    Youth Performing Arts School Philharmonia
    Louisville, KY

Dan Whisler
Dan Whisler is currently Director of Orchestras at the Youth Performing Arts School in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Prior to moving to Kentucky, he was the Director of Orchestras at Center Grove Community School Corporation in Greenwood, Indiana, Founding and Principal Conductor with Intimate Opera of Indianapolis, Indiana, and served on the faculty of the String Quartet Program of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado. Mr. Whisler has conducted over 300 works with over 50 ensembles, including professional orchestras in the USA, England, Spain, Lithuania, and Romania. His awards as a conductor include the 2011 Downbeat Award for Best U.S. College Classical Ensemble and the Bel Canto Award for Excellence in Conducting. Whisler graduated summa cum laude with a BME from Wichita State University (Kansas) and earned an MM in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Northern Colorado. His mentors include Russell Guyver, Mark Laycock, Jorma Panula, Markand Thakar, and Colin Metters.



2nd Place:
Carolyn Watson 
Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra    Interlochen, MI
Carolyn Watson
Dr Carolyn Watson is the conductor of the Academy Orchestra at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. Previously she was conductor-in-residence at the Conservatorium High School in Sydney, Australia. In 2012 she was a major prizewinner at the Emmerich Kálmán International Operetta Conducting Competition in Hungary and served as musical assistant at the Staatsoper Berlin for Infektion! Carolyn is the recipient of the Brian Stacey Award for emerging Australian conductors, a Churchill Fellowship, the Sir Charles Mackerras Conducting Prize awarded via the Australian Music Foundation in London, Opera Foundation Australia’s Bayreuth Opera Award and New Berlin Opera Award and the Nelly Apt Conducting Scholarship. She studied with David Zinman as a Fellow of the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival and School and holds a PhD in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Sydney.



3rd Place:
Beau  Benson
    Midway Camerata    Waco, TX

Beau  Benson
Beau Benson is currently in his second season as Music Director and Conductor for the Oregon East Symphony and Chorale and is in his fifth year as Director of Orchestras for the Midway Independent School District in Waco, Texas.  During his time in Waco, the orchestras of MISD have grown in size and excellence, and have experienced recognition at the local, state, and national levels unprecedented in the district’s history. In addition to being a repeat finalist in the state honor orchestra competition, first runner-up for the 2012 American Prize in Orchestral Performance, and receiving an invitation to perform as a featured ensemble at the 2012 Midwest Clinic, the MISD orchestras have expanded the orchestral experience in innovative ways for students and audiences through projects such as the Central Texas Opera Festival, a yearly performance of a live orchestral soundtrack accompanying the 1922 silent film Nosferatu, and most recently, the inception of a period instrument ensemble.



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To provide the most opportunity for recognition and reward in the high school orchestra division in 2015, the category was divided into two groups: those student ensembles found in general membership high schools and those associated with arts high schools or magnet schools. The listing below announces orchestra winners and runners-up from arts high schools/magnet schools in the U.S.

The American Prize is honored to announce the winners and runners-up of The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2015, in the arts high school 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, 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.

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To provide the most opportunity for recognition and reward in the high school orchestra division in 2015, the category was divided into two groups: those student ensembles found in general membership high schools and those associated with arts high schools or magnet schools. The listing below announces orchestra winners and runners-up from general membership high schools schools in the U.S.

The American Prize is honored to announce the winners and runners-up of The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2015, in the high school 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, 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, runners-up and citation recipient of The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2015, in the youth 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, 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.


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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 college/university 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, 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


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The American Prize is honored to announce the winner and runners-up of The American Prize in Choral Performance, 2015, in the college/university 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, college/university chorus

The American Prize winner:
USC Thornton Chamber Singers 
Jo-Michael Scheibe, director        Los Angeles, CA 
USC Thornton Chamber Singers
The USC Thornton Chamber Singers have been hailed as a model of excellence since their inception in 1939. This past year, they performed at the 2015 American Choral Directors Association National Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2014, they performed in Beijing at the 12th International Festival of Choral Music, and were one of 25 choirs to perform at the 10th World Symposium on Choral Music in Seoul; they were also featured performers at the 2014 ACDA Western Division Conference in Santa Barbara, CA. Previously, Chamber Singers has sung with Elton John, Barry Manilow, The Rolling Stones, and Andrea Bocelli. Recent performance highlights include: choir-in-residence for the New Zealand Choral Federation Conference  “ChoralConnect” in Wellington; the West Coast premiere of Heinz Werner Henze’s Muses of Sicily with Robert Reynolds; Bach’s Mass in B Minor with Maestro Rilling; and the USC Visions and Voices with Dale Warland.


2nd Place:
William Jewell College Concert Choir
Anthony J. Maglione, director    Liberty, MO 
William Jewell College Concert Choir
The William Jewell College Concert Choir, conducted by Anthony J. Maglione, is an auditioned, highly selective ensemble composed of the college’s very best undergraduate choral singers.  In addition to several Kansas City area performances each semester, the choir makes an annual United States concert tour and since 1985, the choir has travelled triennially to England and Scotland for a 14-day concert tour.  Recent highlights include performances at Kansas City’s Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, an appearance with the Canadian Brass, Stravinsky’s Mass with Midwest Chamber Ensemble, an appearance at the Missouri Music Educators Association’s In-Service Workshop/Conference and an internationally distributed recording “The Trumpet Sounds” on Centaur Records to be released in 2015.  More information can be found at www.jewell.edu/music.  Also, follow us on Facebook, SoundCloud, and Twitter (@JewellChoir).


3rd Place:
The Portland State Chamber Choir 
Ethan Sperry, director        Portland, OR 
The Portland State Chamber Choir
Hailed by Fanfare Magazine as "one of the most interesting choral groups in the United States," The Portland State Chamber Choir has performed at many prestigious venues, touring internationally and making multiple appearances at ACDA and NAfME Conferences. In July, 2013 the Chamber Choir competed at the Seghizzi International Competition for Choral Singing in Gorizia, Italy where they earned 15 separate awards and became the first American Choir ever to win the Grand Prize in the competition’s 52-year history. In 2014 they were named Best Mixed Choir at the 16th International Choral Kathaumixw in Powell River, Canada. The Chamber Choir has recorded on the Albany and Hildegard Labels and their CD, "A Drop in the Ocean" was a finalist for the 2013 American Prize. Their latest recording “Into Unknown Worlds” is the only student choral recording ever to appear on Stereophile Magazine’s list of “Records to Die For.”


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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 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 Choral Performance, 2015, professional chorus

The American Prize winner:
Houston Chamber Choir 
Robert Simpson, director    Houston, TX 
Houston Chamber Choir
Described by Peter Phillips as “one of this country’s leading ensembles,” the Houston Chamber Choir was founded by Robert Simpson in 1995.  It has performed at national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, on tour in the United States, Mexico, and Europe and been heard on CBS and ABC television and National Public Radio. Noted guest artists include jazz legend Dave Brubeck, María Guinand and Paul Hillier who wrote, “Robert Simpson has created something special. Long may this group prosper!”? The Choir’s recording Ravishingly Russian is a rare sampling of secular choral works taken from the library of the St. Petersburg Conservatory.  American Record Guide found “the singing is top-of-the-line” and Gramophone’s review proclaimed, “Ravishing is right!”  The Choir’s upcoming cd, soft blink of amber light, is comprised of works commissioned by the Chamber Choir from noted American composers Christopher Theofanidis, Jocelyn Hagan, Dominick DiOrio and David Ashley White.


2nd Place:
Inspiravi 
Jean-Sebastien Vallee, director    Los Angeles, CA 
Inspiravi
Dedicated to the highest quality of musical performance, INSPIRAVI seeks to enrich Southern California with exceptional interpretations of traditional and innovative chamber choral works.  Director and founder Jean-Sébastien Vallée has assembled a group of twenty professional musicians from across California marked by virtuosity, versatility, and a commitment to excellence.  It is the mission of INSPIRAVI to educate and delight its audience through music spanning nearly six centuries, and to cultivate an intimate appreciation of chamber music.


The American Prize in Choral Performance, 2015, college/university chorus

The American Prize winner:
USC Thornton Chamber Singers 
Jo-Michael Scheibe, director        Los Angeles, CA 
USC Thornton Chamber Singers
The USC Thornton Chamber Singers have been hailed as a model of excellence since their inception in 1939. This past year, they performed at the 2015 American Choral Directors Association National Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2014, they performed in Beijing at the 12th International Festival of Choral Music, and were one of 25 choirs to perform at the 10th World Symposium on Choral Music in Seoul; they were also featured performers at the 2014 ACDA Western Division Conference in Santa Barbara, CA. Previously, Chamber Singers has sung with Elton John, Barry Manilow, The Rolling Stones, and Andrea Bocelli. Recent performance highlights include: choir-in-residence for the New Zealand Choral Federation Conference  “ChoralConnect” in Wellington; the West Coast premiere of Heinz Werner Henze’s Muses of Sicily with Robert Reynolds; Bach’s Mass in B Minor with Maestro Rilling; and the USC Visions and Voices with Dale Warland.


2nd Place:
William Jewell College Concert Choir
Anthony J. Maglione, director    Liberty, MO 
William Jewell College Concert Choir
The William Jewell College Concert Choir, conducted by Anthony J. Maglione, is an auditioned, highly selective ensemble composed of the college’s very best undergraduate choral singers.  In addition to several Kansas City area performances each semester, the choir makes an annual United States concert tour and since 1985, the choir has travelled triennially to England and Scotland for a 14-day concert tour.  Recent highlights include performances at Kansas City’s Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, an appearance with the Canadian Brass, Stravinsky’s Mass with Midwest Chamber Ensemble, an appearance at the Missouri Music Educators Association’s In-Service Workshop/Conference and an internationally distributed recording “The Trumpet Sounds” on Centaur Records to be released in 2015.  More information can be found at www.jewell.edu/music.  Also, follow us on Facebook, SoundCloud, and Twitter (@JewellChoir).


3rd Place:
The Portland State Chamber Choir 
Ethan Sperry, director        Portland, OR 
The Portland State Chamber Choir
Hailed by Fanfare Magazine as "one of the most interesting choral groups in the United States," The Portland State Chamber Choir has performed at many prestigious venues, touring internationally and making multiple appearances at ACDA and NAfME Conferences. In July, 2013 the Chamber Choir competed at the Seghizzi International Competition for Choral Singing in Gorizia, Italy where they earned 15 separate awards and became the first American Choir ever to win the Grand Prize in the competition’s 52-year history. In 2014 they were named Best Mixed Choir at the 16th International Choral Kathaumixw in Powell River, Canada. The Chamber Choir has recorded on the Albany and Hildegard Labels and their CD, "A Drop in the Ocean" was a finalist for the 2013 American Prize. Their latest recording “Into Unknown Worlds” is the only student choral recording ever to appear on Stereophile Magazine’s list of “Records to Die For.”


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.


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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