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The American Prize
259 Entries
The American Prize  is pleased to announce CONDUCTOR winners and runners-up for 2013 in the following categories: band/wind ensemble, community orchestra, youth orchestra.


To know the exact day and time when additional winners will be announced, please "like" our Facebook page, where the information will be posted. 

The judges reserve the right to award special citations and honorable mentions to any entrant at their discretion.

Please make us aware of any misprints:

The American Prize in Conducting—Band/Wind Ensemble division

The American Prize winner:    
Christopher Unger   Eastman Wind Ensemble/Eastman Wind Orchestra   Rochester, NY
Christopher Unger
Christopher Unger is a graduate student at the Eastman School of Music where he studies conducting with Dr. Mark Scatterday.  Unger currently serves as the Assistant Conductor of both the Eastman Wind Orchestra and the Eastman Wind Ensemble.   In 2011, he received both a Frederick Fennell Fellowship for Advanced Conducting study and the prestigious Evan Whallon Conducting Award.  His role at Eastman provided him with the opportunity to act as a producer on the Eastman Wind Ensemble’s 2013 release Stravinsky-Octet/L’Histoire du Soldat.  Unger has actively participated in conducting symposia across North America including the New England Conservatory’s Conductors Forum, the Frederick Fennell Memorial Masterclass, and the University of Michigan’s Summer Conducting Workshop.

Among judges' comments: "Good stick and energy. Good ensemble playing. Lovely hands and well shaped phrases."

2nd Place:
Thanapol Setabrahmana   CCM Wind Studies      Cincinnati, OH
Thanapol Setabrahmana

Originally from Bangkok, Thailand, Thanapol Setabrahmana holds a Master of Music degree in Wind Ensemble Conducting from the New England Conservatory and a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition from Mahidol University, Thailand. He has been invited to participate in several international conducting masterclasses and performances in Europe and the United States. He has worked with several conducting pedagogues such as Gustav Meier, Larry Rachleff, Leonid Kochmar, Donato Renzetti, Donald Hunsberger, H. Robert Reynolds, Mark Gibson, Neil Varon, and Donald Schleicher among others.

While studying in Thailand, Thanapol conducted Mahidol University Symphonic Band, Mahidol University Symphony Orchestra, Mahidol Young Artists Band, Assumption College Band, and ad hoc new music ensembles.

Thanapol is currently a doctoral conducting associate at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where he regularly conducts ensembles under CCM Winds Studies, including CCM Wind Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Chamber Winds, Chamber Players. He also guest conducts CCM Brass Choir and Cafè MoMus Contemporary Ensemble. His mentors include Christopher Hughes, Charles Peltz, and Glenn D. Price.

Among judges comments: "...this is a first class musician. Good control over his scores and very solid technique."

3rd Place:
Joel Bein   High Desert Winds   Santa Fe, NM
Joel Bein
Joel Bein is currently Conductor of the Santa Fe Youth Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the High Desert Winds, and Director of Bands at El Dorado Community School in Santa Fe, where his middle school bands have received Superior ratings at NCNMMEA festivals.  In workshop, Mr. Bein has worked with conductors such as Craig Kirchhoff, H. Robert Reynolds, Mallory Thompson, Richard Floyd, Eugene Corporon, and Michael Haithcock. He received the Bachelor's in Music Education from the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, NY, where he studied conducting with Brian Doyle, and where he was Music Director of the Clarkson University Orchestra.  In April 2013 he served as guest conductor for the Concordia Santa Fe Wind Ensemble, conducting Kurt Weill's Kleine Dreigroschenmusik.  With the Santa Fe Youth Symphony, he has collaborated with violinist/conductor Guillermo Figueroa as well as Jared Baca, premiering the composer's chamber work for winds, Ascension, in May 2013.

Among judges comments: "Very solid pulse. Clear stick. Tempo changes handled well."

The American Prize in Conducting—Orchestra division, community
The American Prize winner:

David Bernard   Park Avenue Chamber Symphony   New York, NY
David Bernard
Founding Music Director of New York City’s famed Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, DAVID BERNARD has performed in more than 20 countries on four continents. His incisive performances have been heard in many of the city’s most prestigious venues, among them Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall and The Riverside Church, as well as on radio stations WNYC and WQXR and telecast on WCBS. He and his work have been profiled in Symphony Magazine,, The Juilliard Journal, New York’s Daily News, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Bernard led the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony on a nine-city tour of the People’s Republic of China and has appeared as a guest conductor with the China Conservatory Orchestra, the China Conservatory/Ithaca College/Oberlin College Faculty Contemporary Ensemble, the New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble and the Putnam Symphony. Devoted to the music of our own time, Bernard has presented world premières of scores by Bruce Adolphe, Chris Caswell, John Mackey and Ted Rosenthal, while distinguished concert collaborators include Carter Brey, David Chan, Catherine Cho, Pedro Díaz, Bart Feller, Whoopi Goldberg, Judith Ingolfsson, Christina Jennings, Jessica Lee, Jon Manasse, Todd Phillips and James Archie Worley.?? ??David Bernard’s discography includes 17 albums spanning music from Vivaldi to Copland, and released on, iTunes, Napster and Rhapsody.

Among judges' comments: "How wonderful to watch a conductor with no score, who is so animated, present, and genuinely smiles! He dances, is jovial, cheerful, jeering, calm, and dramatic…. a great pleasure to watch and listen to him and his phenomenal ensemble."

2nd Place:
Anna Edwards   Seattle Collaborative Orchestra     Seattle, WA
Anna Edwards

Anna Edwards, founder and music director of the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra, has been part of the vibrant Seattle classical music scene for 20 years. Ms. Edwards is currently a member of the Auburn Symphony and has been a freelance violinist in the Seattle Metro area playing with such groups as the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Northwest Sinfonietta, and multiple chamber ensembles. In addition to her responsibilities with the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra, Anna is the music director at Roosevelt High School where she has built the orchestra program over the past thirteen years into a nationally recognized program. For the past three years, Anna was selected to attend the prestigious Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and Orchestra Musicians where she studied conducting with music director Michael Jinbo. Currently, Anna is pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Conducting at the University of Washington.

Among judges comments: "a clear and concise beat which is easy to follow. You consistently look at soloists appropriately. Bravo on your ensemble’s excellent, crisp rhythm."

3rd Place:
Tara Villa Keith   Davidson College Symphony Orchestra   Davidson, NC   
Tara Villa Keith

Tara Villa Keith is in her tenth season as music director of the Davidson College Symphony Orchestra in Davidson, North Carolina, and in her fourth season with the Lee County Community Orchestra in Sanford, North Carolina.  Keith has conducted various orchestras across the south, including the Union Symphony Orchestra, Macon Symphony Orchestra, and Hot Springs Music Festival Orchestra.  Abroad, Keith has worked with several orchestras across Europe and in Brazil.  She has won conducting competitions and contests in Bulgaria and Germany with the help of grants from the Global Partners Project and the League of American Orchestras, and won North Carolina’s Metrolina Theatre Association’s Award for Outstanding Musical Direction/Conducting in 2011.

Among judges comments: "you achieve what every conductor strives for: varying the conducting according to the music, an instructive left hand, clear and interesting beat and manner. "

The American Prize in Conducting
—Orchestra division, youth 

The American Prize winner:      
Jonathan Handman   Vivace Arlington HS Philharmonia   Poughkeepsie, NY
Jonathan Handman
Jonathan Handman, conductor and cellist, is a co-founder and Artistic Director of the Stringendo Orchestra School of the Hudson Valley and is an orchestra director at Arlington High School in Poughkeepsie, NY.   At Stringendo, he directs two orchestras, Vivace and Mazurka, and at Arlington he is the conductor of two symphony orchestras and directs an extensive chamber music program.  In each program, his orchestras have won the Grand Champion prize at the ASTA National Orchestra Festival (2009, 2012).   In 2012, Mr. Handman  received the Distinguished Alumni Award in Music Education from Oberlin Conservatory and in 2002 was Oberlin’s invited guest speaker representing the decade of the 1990’s, celebrating its 100th year anniversary of Music Education.  Jonathan’s studies include The Eastman School of Music (Trombone performance), The Oberlin Conservatory (B.A. in Music Education, Cello) and an M.A in orchestral conducting from SUNY Fredonia.

Among judges' comments: "Clear, clean conducting allowed the ensemble to produce every sound with confidence. He does not ‘get in the way’ but ‘shows the path."

2nd Place:
Michael Webster   Houston Youth Symphony   Houston, TX
Michael Webster
Michael Webster is Professor of Music at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and Artistic Director of Houston Youth Symphony. Formerly Principal Clarinet with the Rochester Philharmonic and Acting Principal Clarinet of the San Francisco Symphony, Webster has been soloist with many orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra with Aaron Copland and the Boston Pops with John Williams.  A winner of Young Concert Artists International Auditions, he has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Tokyo, Cleveland, Ying, Muir, Chester, and Enso String Quartets, and festivals such as Marlboro, Santa Fe, Norfolk, Chamber Music Northwest, Victoria, Stratford, Domaine Forget, Angel Fire, Sitka, Maui, Steamboat Springs and Park City. He has also performed and taught in South and Central America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and China.  Webster has been on the clarinet and conducting faculties of Eastman, the New England Conservatory, and the University of Michigan.

Among judges comments: "To be a conductor for a full-sized orchestra of capable young players is an exciting experience. Maestro Webster clearly shows confidence in his players both in action and in the choice of repertory. "

3rd Place:
Alyze Dreiling   YPO Soloist Ensemble   San Diego, CA
Alyze Dreiling
Presently Ms. Dreiling is on the adjunct faculty at University of San Diego and faculty for the USD Chamber Music Festival and is adjunct faculty at Grossmont College. She is the violinist with Trio Licenza, the piano trio, in residence at USD, she also performs as violist with Grossmont Symphony String Quartet, and she is the violinist with The California Consort, founded by legendary contrabassist, Bertram Turetzky. Violinis/Violist, Alyze Dreiling was born in Detroit, Michigan. She began her studies with Mischa Mischakoff. Ms. Dreiling graduated from Indiana University where she studied with Josef Gingold. Since then she has appeared as soloist with the Detroit Symphony, Philharmonica Hungarica at the Vienna Summer Festival, the Florida Chamber Orchestra, Knoxville Symphony, Knoxville Chamber Orchestra to name a few. Ms. Dreiling was founding Artistic Director/ Conductor of Classics for Kids. Alyze also served as the Violinist/Conductor of the International Chamber Players at USIU. She has played concertmaster for Donna Summers, Smoky Robinson, Dionne Warwick and Tom Scott, and for shows at the Old Globe, Civic Auditorium, LaJolla Playhouse, Lawrence Welk and Starlight Theater. She has also played with San Diego Symphony, San Diego Chamber Orchestra, and  Hutchins Consort.

Among judges comments: "It is always a pleasure to witness a fine, caring musician at work with a talented ensemble of young musicians. Far from ‘putting on a show’, the conductor was at one with the spirit of the music which was mirrored by the ensemble members."


Congratulations to all winners and runners-up.
11 months ago | |
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The American Prize  is pleased to announce 2013 ENSEMBLE winners in the following categories: community chorus, youth orchestra, opera production.


To know the exact day and time when additional winners will be announced, please "like" our Facebook page, where the information will be posted. 

The judges reserve the right to award special citations and honorable mentions to any entrant at their discretion.

Please make us aware of any misprints:

The American Prize in Choral Performance—community

The American Prize winner:
Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble   Loren 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.

Among judges' comments: "The diction is impeccably clear and delivered with rhythmic clarity. Unison melodies are crafted with agreement of vowels and tone color."

2nd Place:
Choral Arts   Robert Bode, director—Seattle, WA
Choral Arts
Seattle-based Choral Arts is a thirty-member auditioned choral ensemble led by Artistic Director/Conductor, Robert Bode. Choral Arts has distinguished itself as a significant contributor to the art of choral music and has consistently achieved artistic excellence in its music and programs for the past twenty years. Choral Arts currently has five CDs released under the Gothic label.

Its mission, to inspire, educate and enrich our community through the transformational power of great choral music performed at the highest artistic level, is carried out through its three core commitments:

•          To share the beauty of high-quality choral music in a way that is transforming and special.
•          To provide students with a fresh and oftentimes first experience with choral music through our unique Education Outreach Programs.
•          To honor the talents and contributions of our country’s composers and be a catalyst for the creation of new compositions by American composers.

Among judges comments: "The ensemble has a consistent tone and richness throughout the voice sections and ranges. The diction is rhythmically precise and vowels are uniform, round, and with spacious resonance. "

3rd Place:
The Cecilia Chorus of New York   Mark Shapiro, music director—NY, NY
The Cecilia Chorus of New York
The Cecilia Chorus of New York (formerly known as The St. Cecilia Chorus), founded in 1906, is now a 150 voice mixed chorus.  For many decades the Chorus, with professional orchestra and soloists, has presented two concerts a year at Carnegie Hall.  Under the artistic leadership of Mark Shapiro, appointed the seventh Music Director in July 2011, bold, new directions in programming and repertoire are emerging.  The Chorus commissioned and gave the world premiere performance of Divis Cetera by Rafael Fusco in December 2012. On April 14, 2013 the Chorus performed the NYC premiere of Dame Ethel Smyth’s Mass in D paired creatively with scenes from The Maid of Orleans by Tchaikovsky.  The Cecilia Chorus of New York is a secular not-for-profit organization perpetuating and expanding the classical choral-orchestral repertoire through commissions and performances for diverse audiences (including outreach programs) in major New York area venues.

Among judges comments: "There is a consistent balance between orchestra, choir, and soloists. I enjoyed listening to the round; warm tone color of the female voices. There is an exciting rhythmic integrity on display..."

Singers of the Street (SOS)   Kathleen McGuire, conductor—San Francisco, CA

Singers of the Street (SOS) is a San Francisco-based community choir of people affected by homelessness. Its mission: to raise voices for justice, healing, and joy! SOS was founded by conductor Dr. Kathleen McGuire in September, 2010, inspired by similar organizations in Australia, Canada, and Europe. SOS rehearses Wednesday mornings, followed by a free lunch provided for participants, and performs 2 -3 times per month at churches, schools, and community events. Performance highlights include singing at the centenary celebration of the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall, and appearing - via video performance – in the London Festival at the Royal Opera House as part of the 2012 Olympics. SOS’s repertoire includes pops, world music, and sacred and secular selections reflecting its diverse membership. SOS has had a profound effect upon its participants and audiences, bringing hope of a brighter future to those who are disadvantaged. For more information, visit:

The American Prize in Choral Performance
—youth/high school

The American Prize winner:
Pinecrest High School Chamber Ensemble   Erin E. Plisco, director—Southern Pines, NC
Pinecrest High School Chamber Ensemble
The Pinecrest High School Chamber Ensemble is comprised of 55 students, grades 9-12. The choir regularly performs for the school and community, and is often sought after to perform for local events. The Chamber Ensemble has a long history of superior festival ratings and honors, national performances, and a performance at the NCMEA state conference in 2009 and 2012. Students frequently participate in ACDA Honors Choirs, the NCMEA Honors Choir, and the NC Governor’s School for the Arts. In 2011, the program hosted Grammy award-winning composer Eric Whitacre as artist-in-residence for three days at the high school. In 2012, the program hosted the vocal group Cantus for a master class with the choral students. The choir recently performed at the Heritage Festival of Gold in Chicago, receiving the highest score in the festival. Other recent events include performances at Duke Chapel in Durham, and East Carolina University in Greenville, NC.

Among judges' comments: "This ensemble has a clear understanding of choral style and performance. The repertoire is well-­chosen and appropriate for high school voices. Their diction and sense of phrasing are their strongest points, as is their commitment to working as an ensemble."

2nd Place:
Young Naperville Singers Chamber Singers   Angie Johnson—Naperville, IL
Young Naperville Singers Chamber Singers
Young Naperville Singers (YNS) was founded in 1984 with a mission dedicated to promoting the highest level of artistic excellence in choral music through extraordinary educational and performance experiences that enrich the lives of young people. Based in Naperville, Illinois, the choir consists of eight ensembles whose 318 members range in age from six to seventeen.  Weekly rehearsals are held to prepare for two formal concerts presented each year that feature a varied repertoire and guest musicians.  Informal concerts are held throughout the year. Singers have participated in festivals throughout North America, the most recent being the Coastal Sound International Choral Festival (Canada). YNS has had performance collaborations with Judy Collins, David Benoit and Natalie MacMaster and has premiered commissioned works by noted composers such as David Brunner and Stephen Paulus.  Membership is by audition and all children regardless of race, gender or physical ability are welcome.

Among judges comments: "...loved your repertoire and your are tackling great music...I would enjoy coming to your concerts because you convey such a love for what you are doing."

3rd Place:
Brearley B-Naturals   Karyn Joaquino, director—New York, NY
Brearley B-Naturals
The B-Naturals are the a cappella group of The Brearley School, an all-girls preparatory school in New York City.  The group was founded by students in 1986, and 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 a few student arrangements, and even 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, opened for jazz pianist Peter Cincotti at Jazz at Lincoln Center, entertained the King and Queen of Sweden, and have brought their music abroad twice to England and Wales.  In addition to live performances, the B-Naturals have recorded five CDs, and have been recognized for their work by Best of High School A Cappella, DownBeat Magazine, and the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs).

Among judges comments: "You clearly have worked hard and have achieved a high level of performance. Your youthful energy and passion is evident on the recordings..."

The American Prize in Opera Performance

The American Prize winner:
Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theatre   Alan E. Hicks, director—Univ. of Iowa   Iowa City, IA
Production: Turn of the Screw 
Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theatre
The Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theatre is the producing unit for main stage student-performed operas at the University of Iowa and part of the Division of Performing Arts. Established by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in July 2000, the Division of Performing Arts was established to foster collaboration and artistic exchange between artists in the fields of theatre, music, and dance, in order to heighten awareness of artistic and scholarly work. In 2008, the School of Music, including the Opera Theatre, was affected by a major flood requiring the displacement of all rehearsals and performances.

Among judges' comments: "The overall atmosphere of this dark and moody opera was wonderfully achieved. This was an outstanding, chilling production, musically rewarding from instrumentalists, singers, set and lighting designers."

2nd Place:
University of South Dakota Opera   Tracelyn Gesteland, director—Vermillion, SD
Production: Dido and Aeneas
University of South Dakota Opera
The University of South Dakota Opera offers training and performance opportunities for students interested in the art of opera.  Every semester, students enrolled in opera workshop (by audition) have the opportunity to study and perform operatic literature from the common practice period as well as contemporary lyric theater.  Students develop and refine their vocal technique, acting and movement ability, musicianship, ensemble skills, knowledge of performance practices, and overall artistry through rehearsals and public performances, both on and off campus.  Annually, USD Opera presents a main stage opera in addition to children’s outreach performances.  In 2012, USD Opera was awarded third place in division 3 of the National Opera Association’s Opera Production Competition.  USD Opera was also honored to perform children’s opera excerpts by invitation at the NOA convention in 2011.

Among judges comments: "This was a wonderful production, extremely well played from the orchestra, and beautifully sung from all the cast members. The use of dancers, mirroring the movement of the singers/characters, and all the dancing in general, was quite effective..."

3rd Place:
Undercroft Opera   Mary E. Sederburg, director—Pittsburgh, PA
Production: Susannah 
Undercroft Opera
With the motto “Everybody deserves an 'Operatunity'!” Undercroft Opera has been able to serve literally hundreds of Pittsburgh area performers since its inaugural production of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte in 2006. Since then, the company has presented diverse and challenging works including beloved classic operas such as La Boheme, The Marriage of Figaro and La Traviata, unique one-acts and chamber operas like Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica and The Medium, and innovative projects such as updated versions of The Elixir of Love and The Tales of Hoffmann and a concert version of Don Carlo. Building on the successes of recent productions of The Barber of Seville and Carlisle Floyd's Susannah, Undercroft will be presenting Carmen fully staged and accompanied by the Undercroft Orchestra. Undercroft Opera hopes to continue to serve the community through this and many future productions.

Among judges comments: "a thoroughly enjoyable production on many levels. All cast members seemed enthusiastic to be performing and totally committed to their characters and to the drama of this piece...Orchestral playing was musical and not overpowering."

Congratulations to all winners and runners-up.
11 months ago | |
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The American Prize  is pleased to announce 2013 ENSEMBLE WINNERS in the following categories:
band/wind ensemble, youth orchestra, and community orchestra.


To know the exact day and time when additional winners will be announced, please "like" our Facebook page, where the information will be posted. 

The judges reserve the right to award special citations and honorable mentions to any entrant at their discretion.

Please make us aware of any misprints:

The American Prize in Band/Wind Ensemble Performance
The American Prize winner:  
Kennesaw State Univ. Wind Ensemble   David Thomas Kehler, director—Kennesaw, GA
Kennesaw State Univ. Wind Ensemble
Formed in 1996, the Kennesaw State University Wind Ensemble performs a diverse repertoire for winds and percussion encompassing chamber music, wind ensemble repertoire, and works for large bands. Advocating new music, the KSU Wind Ensemble has commissioned leading composers to write new works for wind ensemble, including Michael Markowski, Joel Puckett, James Stephenson, Christopher Theofanidis, Steven Bryant, and an upcoming commission by Pulitzer Prize winner, Joseph Schwantner. Because of KSU’s close relationship with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Georgia Symphony Orchestra and Atlanta Opera Orchestra, collaboration and performances have resulted with many of those principal players. Most recently, the KSU Wind Ensemble was invited and featured as an ensemble at the 2012 Southern Division College Band Directors National Association Association Conference.  The KSU Wind Ensemble continues to be an important cultural musical voice in Atlanta, and has been featured in several performances on 90.1 FM, WABE- Atlanta public radio.

Among judges' comments: "Great brass sound. Good pitch and style. This is a very well rehearsed group. All sections have excellent tone, including percussion. Precise ensemble throughout."

2nd Place:
Clear Creek High School Wind Ensemble   Stephen Meyer, director—League City, TX
Clear Creek High School Wind Ensemble
Clear Creek High School is located in League City, Texas, just south of Houston near the NASA Johnson Space Center. The Clear Creek Wind Ensemble is the top-performing group of three curricular concert ensembles and has had a long tradition of excellence in music performance and artistry, earning exclusively superior ratings at UIL Concert and Sight-Reading Contest for over twenty years. In 2012, the Wind Ensemble was a National Winner in the National Wind Band Honors competition. Members of this ensemble study privately and participate in the All-Region, All-Area, and All-State bands as well as Solo and Ensemble contest each year.

Among judges' comments: " is a very good of the top HS Wind Ensembles in the country, I would venture to say. Overall score 90."

3rd Place:
Frederick Fennell Wind Ensemble   Teren  Shaffer, director—Santa Ana, CA
Frederick Fennell Wind Ensemble
The Frederick Fennell Wind Studies Program was created in 2003 by a generous contribution in honor of legendary conductor Frederick Fennell. The Frederick Fennell Wind Studies Program offers a comprehensive wind studies education that allows students to enroll in masterclasses, work with an inspiring caliber of guest artists, and attend festivals/field trips. The program also provides students with the opportunity to perform in large ensembles, as well as chamber ensembles. The Frederick Fennell Wind Studies Program provides a focused, high-level, quality education to instrumental music students. The Wind Ensemble, conducted by Teren Shaffer, is recognized for high achievement throughout the country. Regularly earning unanimous superior ratings at festivals, the ensemble won second place in 2012 for The American Prize in Wind Ensemble Performance. In February 2013, the group was featured as the only high school band to represent the state in a performance at the California All-State Music Educators Conference.

Among judges comments: "Excellent energy and ensemble...quite a good group. Appropriate rep was performed and done well."

The American Prize in Orchestral Performance—community orchestra 

The American Prize winner:
Park Avenue Chamber Symphony   David Bernard, music director—New York, NY
Park Avenue Chamber Symphony
Since its founding in 1999, the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony has built a loyal following, both in New York City and worldwide through its extensive catalog of recordings on iTunes, Naxos/ClassicsOnline, Amazon and Spotify.  In 2011 the orchestra toured the People's Republic of China performing in 9 cities including Beijing, Qingdao, Dalian, Chaoyang, Jinzhou, Shenzhen, Shenyang and Xi'an.

The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony’s performances have been acclaimed by critics nationwide.
·         “Highly polished and highly disciplined performances. These readings are interpretively probing and emotionally satisfying….unconditionally recommended.” – Fanfare Magazine
·         “The dynamic range and attention to detail surpass any performance of these works. The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony is a World-Class Orchestra” – Lucid Culture
·         “David Bernard brought raw, dramatic intensity to the urgent sections, while conducting the noble transfiguration theme with utmost tenderness and lovely, sustained pacing. Balances were unusually clear, bringing out woodwind details, while the brass shined with solid, blended playing…the orchestra plays with a strong sense of style and commitment…with the depth and fervor of the old school European orchestras…. a real triumph!” – New York Concert Review

The ensemble regularly features important soloists including Carter Brey (principal cellist, New York Philharmonic), David Chan (concertmaster, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra), Jon Manasse (clarinet soloist) and Whoopi Goldberg (Oscar Winning Actor and Entertainer), as well as emerging artists from Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music and Mannes. The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony performs at All Saints Church on the Upper East Side of NYC, with additional performances at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall.

Through its fundraising efforts, the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony has helped establish a new Scholarship Fund for students at the Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division, as well as support  The Harmony Program—a New York City organization that provides music lessons to economically disadvantaged children and is modeled after Venezuela's world-famous model of music education, "El Sistema".

Among judges' comments: "The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony exemplifies the epitome of the best of the current community orchestra scene: professional level performance of incredibly difficult repertoire."

2nd Place:
Seattle Collaborative Orchestra   Anna Edwards, music director—Seattle, WA
Seattle Collaborative Orchestra
The Seattle Collaborative Orchestra is a dynamic, multigenerational fusion of musicians from Seattle's classical music scene, including Seattle Symphony, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Northwest Sinfonietta, Auburn Symphony, University of Washington, and local high schools.

Seattle Collaborative Orchestra Mission Statement: Seattle Collaborative Orchestra is an intergenerational, semi-professional community orchestra with a strong educational component based in collaboration. Musicians of the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra largely consist of members or alumni of Seattle high schools and University of Washington music students, in addition to members of professional music ensembles in the Seattle area (i.e. Seattle Symphony and Pacific Northwest Ballet). It is our aspiration to spread musical enjoyment to our Seattle metropolitan community.

Among judges comments: "Prodigious achievement of style, rhythm, and articulation throughout. Bravo on your excellent, crisp rhythm."

3rd Place:
Clark College Orchestra   Donald L. Appert, music director—Vancouver, WA
Clark College Orchestra
Donald Appert has been Music Director/Conductor of the Clark College Orchestra since 1990. He has guest conducted orchestras in Europe, Central America, Japan and Australia. Currently he is a Professor of Music and Head of the Music Department at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. In addition he is the Music Director/Conductor of the Oregon Sinfonietta and Artistic Director and Conductor of the Jewish Community Orchestra, both in Portland, Oregon.  He received The American Prize in Orchestral Programming—Vytautas Marijosius  Memorial Award in 2011 for his work with the Oregon Sinfonietta and an Honorable Mention in 2012. He has received the  ASCAPLUS Award numerous times. Videos of his conducting and his original compostions may be seen and heard via the internet on his web site at

Among judges comments: "The group really shines on the Fandango to the end: effective clean strings, great balance, wonderful dynamic contrasts, technique, and articulation."

The American Prize in Orchestral Performance—youth orchestra 

The American Prize winner:
Vivace   Jonathan Handman, music director—Poughkeepsie, NY
In 2001 Jon Handman and Emily Schaad launched Stringendo Orchestra School of the Hudson Valley as a year-round extension of their Summer Strings music camp. Today, over 200 students between second and twelfth grades participate in classes in orchestra and fiddling. These musical groups provide a community where students from all over the Hudson Valley can further develop their musical talents. Stringendo both supplements and enhances string education, and musicians in Stringendo are members of their school orchestra programs wherever possible.

Stringendo’s most advanced orchestra, Vivace, this year includes 25 high school students. Over the years the orchestra has performed a broad repertoire, including Serenades by Dvorak, Elgar, Suk and Tchaikovsky, Diamond’s Rounds,  Shostakovich’s Eighth Chamber Symphony, and Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence. Vivace participated in the ASTA National String Orchestra Festival, a competition for school and youth orchestras throughout the United States, and was named Grand Champion in 2009.

Among judges' comments: "Obvious trust, confidence and capability were coupled to stylistic assurance. The emotional content was always made clear to the audience who responded with highly merited applause."

2nd Place:
Houston Youth Symphony   Michael Webster, music director—Houston, TX
Houston Youth Symphony
Houston Youth Symphony was founded in 1946 and now serves more than 300 students in four orchestras.  Michael Webster has been Artistic Director since 1997 and has led the Symphony, its most advanced orchestra, at the inauguration of Houston Mayor Lee Brown, the 2002 National Youth Orchestra Festival at Carnegie Hall, and in 2012 on National Public Radio’s "From the Top." HYS is the national first prize winner of the Foundation for Music Education's Mark of Excellence competition for five consecutive years (2008-2012) and The American Prize in 2010 and 2011.  Our “Melody” program offers free private lessons to gifted students from disadvantaged districts and our chamber music program serves members of our two most advanced orchestras, the Philharmonia and the Symphony.

Among judges comments: "The performance of the chosen literature demonstrated the thrill of playing large orchestral repertory...the orchestra played with zest. It is good to perform major works that have moments of challenge and is an important aspect of development. Congratulations on undertaking those challenges. "

3rd Place:
Saratoga Springs Youth Orchestra   Gioacchino Longobardi, music director—Saratoga Springs, NY
Saratoga Springs Youth Orchestra
The Saratoga Springs Youth Orchestra is small string ensemble dedicated to fostering excellence in musical arts through structured rehearsal and community performances throughout the Saratoga region of upstate NY.  Founded in 1999, SSYO began with the single vision of developing a world-class youth orchestra.  SSYO works to expand the artistic and cultural horizons of young musicians, ages 13 to 25 years, through advanced training, peer collaboration and mentorship.

Conductor, Maestro Gioacchino Longobardi, with diplomas in Piano, Conducting and Composition from the Conservatorio San Pietro a Majella, in Naples, Italy, brings a European perspective to a new world endeavor. He has introduced SSYO to a unique and challenging repertoire comprised primarily of Early Baroque and Romantic period pieces.  The SSYO program offers young musicians the opportunity to perform orchestral masterworks directed by a professional musician/conductor, while pursuing their own personal aspirations and a lifelong love for music.

Among judges comments: "The playing was most compelling in the Fantasia as the melody of the hymn tune was passed around. The Piazzolla had some very warm moments...This is a program that should continue to build in the future."

Congratulations to all winners and runners-up.
11 months ago | |
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A new edition of "ON TAP," our regularly published e-news, is being prepared for next week. Contestants will receive it automatically; others can sign up now to receive it.

"On TAP" features contest updates, details about our new, private online arts auction (open to "On TAP" subscribers only), early announcement of finalists and winners, information about the 2014 contests, and much more. To sign up, just follow this link:

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1 year ago | |
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The American Prize  is pleased to announce FINALIST CONDUCTORS, 2013: orchestras, choruses, bands, opera/musical theater.


To know the exact day and time when winners will be announced, please "like" our Facebook page, where the information will be posted. 

One prize will be awarded in each of the following divisions. Several runners-up will also be announced in each category. All finalists receive written evaluations. The judges reserve the right to award special citations and honorable mentions to any entrant at their discretion.

Please make us aware of any misprints:

FINALISTS: The American Prize in Conducting—Orchestra division, professional
Darin Lewis  Simpatico Chamber Ensemble  Stamford, CT
Jason Lim   Odysseus Chamber Orchestra   Denton, TX
Judith Morse   Edison Symphony Edison, NJ
Vlad Vizireanu   George Enescu Philharmonic   Bucharest, Romania
Nan Harrison Washburn   Michigan Philharmonic   Plymouth, MI

FINALISTS: The American Prize in Conducting—Orchestra division, community

David Bernard   Park Avenue Chamber Symphony   New York, NY
Anna Edwards   Seattle Collaborative Orchestra     Seattle, WA
Christopher Koch   Springfield-Drury Civic Orchestra   Springfield, MO
Tara Towson Villa   Davidson College Symphony Orchestra   Davidson, NC      

FINALISTS: The American Prize in Conducting—Orchestra division, college/university

"A very strong field of candidates working in diverse circumstances, each worthy of additional consideration and evaluation..."

David Gargaro   Bard College Orchestra   Annandale on Hudson, NY
Taeyoung Lee   Mannes Orchestra   New York, NY
Qinqing Qian   SFCM Conservatory Orchestra   San Francisco, CA
Alexandra Dee   Florida State University Philharmonia   Tallahassee, FL
Steven Eric Hawk   University of Georgia Symphony Orchestra   Athens, GA
Carlos Espinosa  University of Kansas Symphony Orchestra Lawrence, KS
Lance Inouye   Lewis and Clark Orchestra   Portland, OR
Jeffery Meyer   Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra   Ithaca, NY
Jason Fredrick Rinehart   Univ. of Louisiana at Monroe   Monroe, LA
Bryce Seliger   Pacific Philharmonic   Forest Grove, OR
Kevin Sutterlin   University of Memphis Symphony Orchestra   Memphis, TN
Chaowen Ting   Eastman Philharmonia   Rochester, NY
Vlad Vizireanu   Arizona State Univ. Symphony Orchestra   Tempe, AZ
Vera Volchansky   Mellersville University Orchestra   Lancaster, PA
FINALISTS: The American Prize in Conducting—Orchestra division, youth
Thomas Taylor Dickey   Dubuque Symphony Youth Orchestra   Dubuque, IA
Alyze Dreiling   YPO Soloist Ensemble   San Diego, CA
Jonathan Handman   Vivace Arlington HS Philharmonia   Poughkeepsie, NY
Christopher T.F. Hanson  SMART Orchestra  San Marcos, TX
Michael Webster   Houston Youth Symphony   Houston, TX
FINALISTS: The American Prize in Conducting—Choral division     

"Taken as a whole, a very strong field of candidates—exceptionally musical, committed and passionate..."

Donald Kendrick   Sacramento Choral Society   Sacramento, CA
Darin Lewis   St. Francis Choir   Stamford, CT
Thomas R. Vozzella   Free Will Baptist Choral Union   Nashville, TN
Ingrid Lestrud   Conservatory Choir   Chicago, IL
Peggy Dettwiler   Mansfield University Festival Chorus   Mansfield, PA
Timothy S. McDonnell   Ave Maria University Chamber Choir   Ave Maria, FL
Richard Nance   Pacific Lutheran University Choir of the West   Tacoma, WA

FINALISTS: The American Prize in Conducting—Band/Wind Ensemble division   
Joel Bein   High Desert Winds   Santa Fe, NM
Benjamin Lorenzo (various) Austin, Lubbock TX, West Point, NY
Thanapol Setabrahmana   CCM Wind Studies      Cincinnati, OH
Christopher Unger   Eastman Wind Ensemble/Eastman Wind Orchestra   Rochester, NY

FINALISTS: The American Prize in Conducting—Opera & Music Theater division
Robert W. Butts   BONJ Opera   Madison, NJ
   The Magic Flute
Brian DeMaris   Ithaca College   Ithaca, NY
   Gianni Schicchi
Eric Peterson   Savoynet Performing Group   Buxton, England
   The Sorcerer
Qinqing Qian   San Francisco Conservatory of Music   San Francisco, CA
   Don Giovanni
Maria Sensi Sellner   Hubbard Hall Opera Theater   Cambridge, NY
   La Traviata 
Maria Sensi Sellner   Boston Opera Collaborative   Boston, MA
   Orpheus in the Underworld      


Vytautas Marijosius
FINALISTS: The American Prize in Orchestral Programming—Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award 

John Stickler   Gulf Coast Symphony   Biloxi, MS

Donald L. Appert   Clark College Orchestra   Vancouver, WA

Jason Love   Columbia Orchestra   Ellicott City, MD

Tara Towson Villa   Lee County Community Orchestra   Sanford, NC

Tara Towson Villa   Davidson College Symphony Orchestra   Davidson, NC

Jeffery Meyer   Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra   Ithaca, NY

Alyze Dreiling   YPO Soloist Ensemble   San Diego, CA


Congratulations to all finalists.
1 year ago | |
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The American Prize  is pleased to announce 2013 ENSEMBLE FINALISTS: orchestras, choruses, bands, opera companies.


To know the exact day and time when winners will be announced, please "like" our Facebook page, where the information will be posted. 

One prize will be awarded in each of the following divisions. Several runners-up will also be announced in each category. All finalists receive written evaluations. The judges reserve the right to award special citations and honorable mentions to any entrant at their discretion.

Please make us aware of any misprints:

FINALISTS: The American Prize in Orchestral Performance—professional orchestra 
(Due to a computer error, one name was inadvertently left off this list when first published. We apologize for the oversight.)

John Gordon Ross  Western Piedmont Symphony         Hickory, NC
Nan Harrison   Washburn Michigan Philharmonic   Plymouth, MI
Jason Lim   Odysseus Chamber Orchestra   Denton, TX
FINALISTS: The American Prize in Orchestral Performance—community orchestra  

Donald L. Appert   Clark College Orchestra          Vancouver, WA
David Bernard   Park Avenue Chamber Symphony   New York, NY
Anna Edwards   Seattle Collaborative Orchestra       Seattle, WA
Charles Salembier, Peter Wilson  Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra   Waynesboro, VA
James Villani   Manassas Symphony Orchestra       Manassas, VA
FINALISTS: The American Prize in Orchestral Performance—college/university orchestra  

Michael Alexander   Kennesaw State University Symphony Orchestra   Kennesaw, GA
Steven Amundson   St. Olaf Orchestra  Northfield, MN
Taeyoung Lee   Mannes Orchestra   New York, NY
Mitchell Arnold   West Virginia University Symphony Orchestra   Morgantown, WV
Stephen Heyde   Baylor Symphony   Waco, TX
Jeffery Meyer   Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra   Ithaca, NY


FINALISTS: The American Prize in Orchestral Performance—school orchestra  

Jonathan Handman   Arlington HS Philharmonia   LaGrangeville, NY
Dr. Shira Katsman   Interlake HS Chamber Orchestra   Bellevue, WA
Patrick R. O'Connor   District 214 Honors Orchestra   Mt. Prospect, IL
Ryan Ross   Jasper HS Legacy Orchestra   Plano, TX

FINALISTS: The American Prize in Orchestral Performance—youth orchestra  

Mary Cowans, Gioacchino Longobardi   Saratoga Springs Youth Orchestra   Saratoga Springs, NY
Gabriella Fryer, Jonathan Handman    Vivace   Poughkeepsie, NY
Michael Webster   Houston Youth Symphony   Houston, TX

FINALISTS: The American Prize in Band/Wind Ensemble Performance
Brian Hughes   Quad City Wind Ensemble   Davenport, IA
David Thomas Kehler   Kennesaw State Univ. Wind Ensemble   Kennesaw, GA
Stephen Meyer   Clear Creek High School Wind Ensemble   League City, TX
Teren  Shaffer   Frederick Fennell Wind Ensemble           Santa Ana, CA

FINALISTS: The American Prize in Choral Performance—community

"In the community choral division, an assemblage of very strong entrants in diverse circumstances, led by an exceptionally musical, committed and passionate group of conductors."

Ryan Brandau   Princeton Pro Musica   Princeton, NJ
Eric Nelson   Atlanta Sacred Chorale   Atlanta, GA
Judith Gary   The Virginia Consort Festival Chorus   Charlottesville, VA
Mark Shapiro  The Cecilia Chorus of New York  NY, NY
Mark Shapiro   Cantori New York   New York, NY
Ryan Heller   Austin Vocal Arts Ensemble   Austin, TX
Donald Kendrick   Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra   Sacramento, CA
Nancy Menk   South Bend Chamber Singers                   South Bend, IN
Robert Bode   Choral Arts   Seattle, WA
Marsha Owens, Matthew Boice   Washington Festival Chorale   Washington, PA
Michael Pettry, Eric Stark   Indianapolis Symphonic Choir   Indianapolis, IN
Loren Ponten   Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble   Seattle, WA

FINALISTS: The American Prize in Choral Performance—college/university

"Taken as a whole, the college/university division presents perhaps the strongest group of finalists we have had in this category in any year—musical, exciting, passionate..."
James M. Reddan   Linn-Benton Re-Choired Element Chamber Choir   Albany, OR
Kimberly Dunn Adams   Western Michigan University Chorale   Kalamazoo, MI
Peggy Dettwiler   Mansfield University Concert Choir   Mansfield, PA
David Holdhusen   Univ. of South Dakota Chamber Singers   Vermillion, SD
Richard Nance   Pacific Lutheran University Choir of the West   Tacoma, WA
James Rodde   Iowa State Singers   Ames, IA
Mark Shapiro   LIU Post Chamber Singers   Brookville, NY
Ethan Sperry   Portland State Chamber Choir   Portland, OR

FINALISTS: The American Prize in Choral Performance—youth/high school

Karyn Joaquino Brearley   B-Naturals   New York, NY
Erin E. Plisco   Pinecrest High School Chamber Ensemble   Southern Pines, NC
Angie Johnson   Young Naperville Singers Chamber Singers   Naperville, IL

FINALISTS: The American Prize in Opera Performance
Karen Rich   dell'Arte Opera Ensemble   New York, NY
   Dialogues of the Carmelites
Mary E. Sederburg   Undercroft Opera   Pittsburgh, PA
Lidiya Yankovskaya   Lowell House Opera, Harvard University   Cambridge, MA
   The Snow Maiden
Brian DeMaris   Ithaca College Ithaca, NY
   Suor Angelica / Gianni Schicchi
Carleen Graham   Crane School of Music, SUNY-Potsdam   Potsdam, NY
   Coronation of Poppea
Alan E. Hicks   Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theatre, Univ. of Iowa   Iowa City, IA
   Turn of the Screw
Tracelyn Gesteland   University of South Dakota Opera   Vermillion, SD
   Dido and Aeneas


Congratulations to all finalists.
1 year ago | |
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The American Prize  is pleased to announce ENSEMBLE FINALISTS for 2013.

This announcement has been updated with additional categories. Please follow the link below to view the complete list.
1 year ago | |
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The American Prize  is pleased to announce FINALIST CONDUCTORS, 2013.

This announcement has been updated with additional categories. Please follow the link below to view the complete list.
1 year ago | |
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The American Prize is honored to announce the winner and runners-up of The American Prize in Composition:  Orchestra Division, Student category, 2013. 

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:

The American Prize in Composition: Orchestra Division, STUDENT category, 2013.

The American Prize winner: 
Michael-Thomas Foumai   (Ann Arbor, MI)
Michael-Thomas Foumai
Named Composer of the Year by the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra, Michael-Thomas Foumai was awarded the 2012 Jacob Druckman Prize from the Aspen Music Festival. He has beeen awarded two BMI awards and was named winner of the Merle J. Isaac Composition Competition. His works have been performed across the United States, Japan, China, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand with performances by the Buffalo Philharmonic, New England Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony and Chorus, Alarm Will Sound and many more. Michael holds degrees from the Universities of Hawaii and Michigan. He is currently a doctoral fellow  at UofM. (

Among judges' comments: "Exciting music, due largely to an active carving across the flow of the beat, displaying a sophisticated and personal command of rhythm."

2nd Place:
YoungWoo Yoo   (Champaign, IL)
YoungWoo Yoo

Born in Seoul, South Korea, YoungWoo Yoo began her classical composition studies at the age of 15 and earned prizes in several national and international competitions. Her works have been performed in Italy, France, Netherlands, Albania, Greece, U.S., and South Korea. Ms. Yoo was the first-prize winner of the 2006 ValTidone International Music Competitions-'Edigio Carella Composition Competition' (Italy) and the finalist of the 2007 International Contest of Composition Henri Dutilleux (France), the 2008 Ton de Leeuw International Competition for Young Composers (Netherland, Albania). In 2008, she was a Distinguised Musician of the IBLA Foundation Master Prize for Competition (Italy), she received the International Music Prizes (Greece) in 2009 and Manhattan Prize 2010 (USA, Manhattan School of Music). YoungWoo was also selected participant for Master Classes with Samuel Adler and Matthias Pintscher at Manhattan School of Music. Ms. Yoo holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Ewha Womans University-College of Music and Master of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Dr. J Mark Stambaugh. She is a doctorate student (DMA) and studies with Dr. Sever Tipei at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Among judges' comments: "The instruments are used appropriately and effectively, both as individual colors and in terms of sectional strengths...The flow of music across time is well-personalized."    

3rd Place:
Geoffrey Pope   (Denver, CO)
Geoffrey Pope

Geoffrey Pope (b. 1986) has been recognized through numerous commissions and appointments as a composer and conductor. Pope received his undergraduate degree in composition at the University of Southern California, and went on to receive Master’s degrees in composition and conducting at the Eastman School of Music, where he was awarded the prestigious Walter Hagen Conducting Prize. A proponent of contemporary music, Pope seeks to present provocative and engaging programs that have a strong cultural impact. As a composer, Pope has enjoyed performances by various ensembles and individuals across the United States and Europe. His current project is an opera based on a true story from the Bosnian War—Sarajevo Vespers—with a libretto by forensic archaeologist and novelist Courtney Angela Brkic, is due to be completed in 2013. For more information, please visit

Among judges' comments: "Intimate, contained, ritual music that moves in a very "human" progress – almost as if strands of thought come forward, linger in examination and then dissipate."  

1 year ago | |
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The American Prize is honored to announce the winners and runners-up of The American Prize in Voice—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award: Opera Division (women), 2013. 

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:

(We are currently awaiting an acceptance in the professional category.) 

The American Prize in Voice—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award: Opera Division (women), 2013, PROFESSIONAL:  

The American Prize winner:
Suzanne Vinnik   (New York, NY)
Suzanne Vinnik
During the 2012-2013 season this exciting 26-year-old soprano makes her highly anticipated debut with Florida Grand Opera in La traviata as Violetta Valéry under the baton of Maestro Ramon Tebar. She opened the season with a performance in Washington D.C. for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's (CHCI) 35th Awards, where she followed US Vice President Joe Biden. Upcoming engagements include a concert with legendary tenor Marcello Giordani with Vero Beach Opera, concerts with the Marcello Giordani Foundation at Merkin Concert Hall and Opera America and Mahler's Symphony No. 4 with Rouge Valley Symphony. Various highlights include Micaela in Carmen with Lyric Opera Virginia, Musetta in La boheme with Lorin Maazel's Castleton Festival, Nevada Opera Theatre, and Opera North, Leila in Les pêcheurs de perles and Gretel in Hansel und Gretel, both with Pittsburgh Opera. She is the recipient of numerous awards most notably from Georg Solti Foundation, The American Prize, Sullivan Foundation, Gerda Lissner, Opera Index, George London, Palm Beach Opera, Queen Sonja International Music Competition among others. Please visit for more information on this artist.

Among judges' comments: "...a rich voice of incredible clarity and beauty…..perfect for the repertoire submitted."

2nd Place: 
Josefien Stoppelenburg   (Evanston, IL)
Josefien Stoppelenb
Josefien Stoppelenburg, soprano, performs frequently as soloist in the United States, the Netherlands, and Germany. In Chicago she has performed with Baroque Band, the Apollo Chorus, the Newberry Consort, Handel Week Festival, Fulcrum Point, Ars Musica, Music of the Baroque and the Chicago Bar Association Symphony. From 2005 until 2007 Josefien was part of the Young Opera Ensemble of Cologne. Her operatic roles include Serpina (La Serva Padrona), Amor (Orfeo ed Euridice) and Belinda (Dido and Aeneas), and Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine. She sang Aci in the Haymarket Opera Company’s acclaimed premiere of Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo and Tirsi in Clori, Tirsi e Fileno. Recent engagements include Bach/Pergolesi Stabat Mater (with Camerata Amsterdam), Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Stabat Mater, Handel's La Resurrezione and Dixit Dominus (Baroque Band), Faure Requiem with Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, and the world premiere of Jacob TV’s The News, a multi-media reality opera, in Pittsburgh. Josefien won The American Prize Chicago Oratorio Award earlier this season. See also

Among judges' comments: "You are vocally superb in this genre.  Both the Latin and the German are clear and accurate. Beautiful performances!"  

3rd Place:
Arietha Lockhart   (Decatur GA)
Arietha Lockhart
Arietha Lockhart was the voice of the White Butterfly during the Opening Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. A favorite soloist of conductor Robert Shaw, she frequently performs works by contemporary American composers as well as music of international masters in recitals and concerts. Recent performances include works by Handel, Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. Her roles include Zerbinetta (Ariadne), Queen of the Night (Magic Flute) Mama King in the contemporary opera (I Dream) about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by composer Douglas Tappin. Her prizes and honors include: an Aspen Music Festival fellowship, 2nd place in the first Competition sponsored by Classical Singer Magazine, The National Opera Association Competition’s Legacy Award, 2nd place in The Center for Contemporary Opera International, the Friedrich Shorr Memorial Prize in Voice, Super Finalist in American Opera Idol Competition, 3rd place in the Oratorio Society of New York competition, and winner of the Meistersinger Competition in Graz, Austria.  Website:

Among judges' comments: "Lovely, light coloratura. Good sense of variety of styles in submitted selections..."

The American Prize in Voice—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award: Opera Division (women), 2013, COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY:

The American Prize winner:
Lilla Heinrich Szász   (Princeton, NJ)
Lilla Heinrich Szász

24 year old soprano Lilla Heinrich Szász has won critical acclaim for her “appealing sound, agile coloratura and oversize wit” (The New York Times) and
has performed to great acclaim in both operatic and concert repertoire across the U.S and Europe. She is a masters student at Juilliard, where she received her Bachelors and is a recent winner of the Juilliard Honors Recital.  Operatic highlights include Lucinde (MET + Juilliard collaboration of Gluck's Armide), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Belinda (Dido and Aeneas), Helena (Midsummer Night's Dream), Laetitia (Old Maid and the Thief), Geraldine (Hand of Bridge) and has fully covered the roles of Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Zhou (Kommilitonen! U.S. premier) and Drusilla (L'incoronazione di Poppea). She has also worked with renowned artists Richard Bonynge, Alan Gilbert, William Christie, Ken Noda, Graham Johnson, Warren Jones and performed in Marilyn Horne's Foundation Festival at Carnegie Hall.

Among judges' comments: "The instrument is round and supple, overall, with a wonderful attention to musicality."  

2nd Place:
Vanessa Naghdi    (Manassas, VA) 
Vanessa Naghdi

Lyric coloratura soprano Vanessa Naghdi received her Bachelor of Music degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her opera and musical theater credits include Amelia Goes to the Ball (Amelia), Hansel and Gretel (Dew Fairy), Suor Angelica (Lay Sister), Die Fledermaus, and most recently, Camelot with Virginia Opera. Vanessa has also performed opera in Europe, including in Die Jungfrau von Orléans (Solo Angel) and Suor Angelica (Genevieffa) with the Mittelsächsisches Theater, and in recital, including in “An Evening of Mörike Lieder.”  She has performed with the Crittenden Opera Studio and Buck Hill-Skytop Music Festival. In 2011, Ms. Naghdi was awarded both the Summer Studies Grant and Friends of Opera Scholarship from VCU’s Department of Music and was the First Place winner in the VA NATS Competition. She is a current student of Elizabeth K. Vrenios and will be attending graduate school for voice in the fall of 2013.

Among judges' comments: "...a lovely voice with plenty of color and a control that communicates skillful expression."

3rd Place:
Diana Yodzis    (Matthews, NC)
Diana Yodzis

Diana Yodzis, mezzo-soprano, is an active performer in Opera, musical theater and concert works. Roles include Hansel, Hansel and Gretel, Mother, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Laurie, Oklahoma!, Announcer, Gallantry, and more.  A senior at UNCG, Ms. Yodzis will be starting graduate studies in the fall after spending her summer at Warren Jones and Marilyn Horne's prestigious young artist program at The Music Academy of the West, where she will sing the Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte.  Diana is a frequent award winner in competitions including National MTNA (Finalist, 2013), NC Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Encouragement Award, 2013), NCNATS (1st place, 2009-2013) and others.  Ms. Yodzis is an Alyse Smith Cooper Music Scholarship recipient at UNCG under the tutelage of Dr. Nancy Walker.

Among judges' comments: "a rich, round instrument that is consistently powerful and luxurious throughout the voice."

The American Prize in Voice—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award: Opera Division (women), 2013, HIGH SCHOOL: 

The American Prize winner:
Emily Pogorelc   (Whitefish Bay, WI)
Emily Pogorelc
Emily Pogorelc is 16 years old and a junior at Whitefish Bay High School in Wisconsin. She has been studying voice since the age of 9 and currently studies with Julia Faulkner. In the past year, she was awarded first place at the Classical Singer Magazine Competition, Music Teachers National Association Competition, the Schmidt Competition and the Walgreen's National Concerto Competition as well as winning first place at Wisconsin NATS. This year, Emily won a place in the Florentine Opera High School Master Class Competition. Emily has performed with the Florentine Opera, Skylight Opera and Opera a la Carte and attended Walnut Hill's summer intensive program in 2012.

Among judges' comments: "...brings power and flexibility to her performance while maintaining a sense of delicacy to softer selections."

2nd Place:
Hayley Boggs    (Oakland, MI)
Hayley Boggs
Hayley has been receiving vocal instruction for six years and is currently studying under Martha Sheil at the University of Michigan. She has been involved in over twenty community theatre productions, but her passion is opera. She won first place in the Hal Leonard Art Song competition and placed third in their Musical Theatre Division. She made it to semifinals in the Classical Singer Competition. Also, she was a vocal soloist at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival in 2012.

Among judges' comments: "a round, ringing quality.  She shows much promise...and dramatically interprets her selections with conviction and energy."

3rd Place:
Emily Perry    (Powell, OH)
Emily Perry

Emily Perry, 16, is a sophomore at Olentangy Liberty High School and a member of several of its choirs.  Additionally, Emily is a member of the Columbus International Children's Choir and a private student of Yvonne Shapiro-Mazo.  When not pursuing her love for singing, Emily enjoys working with autistic children, reading, spending time with her family and friends, working on mission trips, and writing.  Emily resides in Powell, Ohio with her mother, father, and brother.

Among judges' comments: "a strong upper range with good support...gesture is effective when used in the context of the aria's message..." 

Congratulations to winners and runners-up.

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