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

The American Prize winner:
Boon Hua Lien   
    Eastman Philharmonia    Rochester, NY

Boon Hua Lien
Boon Hua LIEN serves as the Eastman Conducting Fellow of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Assistant Conductor of the Eastman Philharmonia. Lien has conducted professional orchestras including the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Festival Strings Lucerne, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, and youth groups such as the Singapore National Youth Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Music Makers. Lien is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in orchestral conducting at the Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of Neil Varon, and has earned degrees in conducting and trombone performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, and Peabody Conservatory of Music. In addition, Lien was invited to work with Bernard Haitink at the Lucerne Festival Academy, and was also awarded the Bruno Walter Conducting Scholarship to work with Marin Alsop at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.


2nd Place:
Chris Younghoon Kim   
    Cornell Chamber Orchestra    Ithaca, NY

Chris Younghoon Kim
Conductor Chris Younghoon Kim has a broad repertoire in instrumental and choral works and is particularly active in promoting new music. He holds a Bachelor of Music in music education and oboe performance from Northwestern University, a Master of Music in orchestral conducting from the University of Michigan, and has also studied composition. He has continued his conducting studies in master classes with Neeme Jarvi, Jorma Panula, Martyn Brabbins, Gunther Schuller, Gerhard Markson, Johannes Schlaefli, and Kenneth Kiesler. Kim serves as Artistic Director of Brave New Works, a vibrant ensemble of ten musicians dedicated to performing new compositions.  He has also been active as a conductor and concert-organizer with the Boston-based Firebird Ensemble. Before coming to Cornell in 2004 he taught at Tufts University, served as resident conductor of the Mozart Society Orchestra at Harvard University, and was assistant conductor for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. At Cornell Chris Kim conducts the Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra, and teaches conducting. He works closely with the students in the D.M.A. program in composition, assisting them in presenting their new works in concert. The Cornell Orchestras has received the ASCAP adventurous programming award in 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.


3rd Place:
Kalena Bovell   
    Hartt Orchestra    West Hartford, CT


Kalena Bovell
Recently appointed as a conducting fellow for the Chicago Sinfonietta’s Project Inclusion Program Kalena Bovell will work closely with music director, Mei-Ann Chen for the 2015 – 2016 season. Kalena was also named the new Orchestra Director at the Loomis Chaffee School and will begin her tenure in the fall of 2015. She has served as the Assistant Conductor to Carolyn Kuan, Music Director of the Hartford Symphony and was the Assistant Conductor to the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra. She has also studied with Maestro Donald Portnoy at the prestigious Conductors Institute of South Carolina, Maurice Peress, assistant to Leonard Bernstein, Jorge Mester, Paul Vermel, Peter Jaffe and Kenneth Kiesler. She has also received coaching’s from Gerard Schwarz, William Eddins and Michael Morgan. Kalena received a Masters of Music and Graduate Professional Diploma in Instrumental Conducting from The Hartt School where she was a student of Edward Cumming.


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The American Prize is honored to announce the winners and runners-up of The American Prize in Conducting: all orchestra divisions, 2015. Congratulations!

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

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

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

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

The American Prize winner:
Olivier Ochanine   
    Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra    Manila, Philippines

Olivier Ochanine
Olivier Ochanine is the 1st Prize Winner of the 2015 Antal Dorati International Conducting Competition in Budapest, Hungary, in which he surpassed nearly 120 other conductors from 23 countries; the prize leads to further performances in Europe. Olivier is also 2nd Prize Winner in the 2015 London Classical Soloists International Conducting Competition, where he conducted the orchestra in various Beethoven symphonies.

A native of Paris, Olivier Ochanine began music studies in France and continued in the United States. A flutist and bassist, Olivier earned his Bachelors Degree from the University of Kentucky. He expanded his focus to orchestral conducting, taking up graduate studies and attending master classes with some of the best conducting mentors, including Mark Gibson, Gustav Meier, Marin Alsop, Larry Livingston, Robert Baldwin, John Barnett, John Farrer, and Achim Holub.  He obtained his Masters Degree in Conducting from the University of Southern California (USC), where he was given the Conducting Department Award in 2003.  In 2009, he began his Doctoral Studies in Orchestral Conducting at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music under Mark Gibson.

Regularly praised for his charisma on and off podium as well as for his breadth of orchestral repertoire, Olivier is the youngest Music Director of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra in the orchestra's history. In June 2016, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra undertakes a historic concert tour to the United States which includes a performance at the world renowned Carnegie Hall in New York City. Upcoming conducting engagements ?include the Matanzas Symphony Orchestra (Cuba), Esterhàza Festival Orchestra, Virtuosi Italiani, and Moscow State Symphony Orchestra. www.olivierochanine.com


2nd Place (there was a tie):
Jonathan Griffith   
    Distinguished Concerts Orchestra    New York, NY

Jonathan Griffith
An acclaimed conductor, educator and lecturer, Jonathan Griffith has led performances across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Griffith is co- founder and artistic director of Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY), which has brought together, under Griffith’s artistic leadership, thousands of musicians and choral singers in concert at prestigious venues across the United States, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Disney Hall. The founder and music director of the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra, Griffith also oversees DCINY’s mentoring program for conductors.  Maestro Griffith’s additional conducting credits include the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City; Manhattan Philharmonic, and New England Symphonic Ensemble, both at Carnegie Hall; The European Symphony Orchestra in Spain; Bohuslava Martin Philharmonia and Philharmonia Chorus, Virtuosi Pregensis Chamber Orchestra, Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra, and Dvorák Chamber Orchestra, in the Czech Republic; and the Bialystok State Philharmonic in Poland, as well as numerous regional orchestras and choruses across the United States.


2nd Place (there was a tie):
Jason Lim   
    Odysseus Chamber Orchestra    Frisco/McKinney, TX

Jason Lim
Recognized by the Denton-Record Chronicle as one of “2012’s Most Fascinating People,” the career of conductor Jason Lim is on the rise. Lim was born in Penang, Malaysia and began his formal training in viola performance when he won a scholarship to study at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts with Alice Waten. He commenced his studies at the Canberra (Australia) School of Music, and completed his bachelor’s degree with honors at the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney. Jason received his Masters degree in orchestral conducting from the University of North Texas.

It was in Canberra that he began his conducting studies: first as an apprentice with the Canberra Youth Orchestra, and later as an Assistant Conductor with the Ku Ring Gai Philharmonic Orchestra in Sydney, a position that was awarded in conjunction with winning the New South Wales Ministry of Arts Conducting Prize. Most recently, Mr. Lim has been of awards from the American Prize Competition: the 2011 Young Conductor Citation, and third prize in the 2013 The American Prize Conducting Competition and most recently second prize in the 2014 American Prize Conducting Competition. In June 2013, Jason made his European conducting debut conducting the Academic State Concert Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine in Kievand appeared as guest conductor with the Zabrze Philharmonic Orchestra and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in 2014. Currently, Jason is the Artistic Director and conductor of the Odysseus Chamber Orchestra, a group he led winning second and third prize in the 2013 and 2014 Professional Orchestra division of the American Prize Competition. Jason's mentors includes Nicholas Braithwaite, Max McBride and Henryk Pisarek.


3rd Place:
Paul Mauffray   
    Hradec Králové Philharmonic    Slidell, LA

Paul Mauffray
Paul Mauffray began his music studies at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and Louisiana State University. He won 2nd Prize in the 2007 Bartok Conducting Competition and has 20 years professional conducting experience with European orchestras and operas in Prague, Brno, Bratislava, Lyon, Salzburg, and Vienna. After studying musicology in Germany and in the Czech Republic, he earned his master's degree in conducting at Indiana University where he was engaged as Associate Instructor. He conducted at the Bucharest National Opera, Slovak National Opera, Mariinsky Theater, and appeared frequently as conductor with violin-soloist Tomas Vinklat from the Vienna Philharmonic. Mauffray has been a frequent guest conductor with the Hradec Kralove Philharmonic, Janacek Philharmonic, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic, and Schoenbrunn Palace Orchestra in Vienna.  He is currently reconstructing the 1894 opera "Tabasco" by George W. Chadwick, and recent performances have been in New Orleans, Riverside California, and with the Chattanooga Symphony.
www.paulmauffray.com


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

The American Prize winner:
Boon Hua Lien   
    Eastman Philharmonia    Rochester, NY

Boon Hua Lien
Boon Hua LIEN serves as the Eastman Conducting Fellow of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Assistant Conductor of the Eastman Philharmonia. Lien has conducted professional orchestras including the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Festival Strings Lucerne, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, and youth groups such as the Singapore National Youth Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Music Makers. Lien is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in orchestral conducting at the Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of Neil Varon, and has earned degrees in conducting and trombone performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, and Peabody Conservatory of Music. In addition, Lien was invited to work with Bernard Haitink at the Lucerne Festival Academy, and was also awarded the Bruno Walter Conducting Scholarship to work with Marin Alsop at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.


2nd Place:
Chris Younghoon Kim   
    Cornell Chamber Orchestra    Ithaca, NY

Chris Younghoon Kim
Conductor Chris Younghoon Kim has a broad repertoire in instrumental and choral works and is particularly active in promoting new music. He holds a Bachelor of Music in music education and oboe performance from Northwestern University, a Master of Music in orchestral conducting from the University of Michigan, and has also studied composition. He has continued his conducting studies in master classes with Neeme Jarvi, Jorma Panula, Martyn Brabbins, Gunther Schuller, Gerhard Markson, Johannes Schlaefli, and Kenneth Kiesler. Kim serves as Artistic Director of Brave New Works, a vibrant ensemble of ten musicians dedicated to performing new compositions.  He has also been active as a conductor and concert-organizer with the Boston-based Firebird Ensemble. Before coming to Cornell in 2004 he taught at Tufts University, served as resident conductor of the Mozart Society Orchestra at Harvard University, and was assistant conductor for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. At Cornell Chris Kim conducts the Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra, and teaches conducting. He works closely with the students in the D.M.A. program in composition, assisting them in presenting their new works in concert. The Cornell Orchestras has received the ASCAP adventurous programming award in 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.


3rd Place:
Kalena Bovell   
    Hartt Orchestra    West Hartford, CT


Kalena Bovell
Recently appointed as a conducting fellow for the Chicago Sinfonietta’s Project Inclusion Program Kalena Bovell will work closely with music director, Mei-Ann Chen for the 2015 – 2016 season. Kalena was also named the new Orchestra Director at the Loomis Chaffee School and will begin her tenure in the fall of 2015. She has served as the Assistant Conductor to Carolyn Kuan, Music Director of the Hartford Symphony and was the Assistant Conductor to the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra. She has also studied with Maestro Donald Portnoy at the prestigious Conductors Institute of South Carolina, Maurice Peress, assistant to Leonard Bernstein, Jorge Mester, Paul Vermel, Peter Jaffe and Kenneth Kiesler. She has also received coaching’s from Gerard Schwarz, William Eddins and Michael Morgan. Kalena received a Masters of Music and Graduate Professional Diploma in Instrumental Conducting from The Hartt School where she was a student of Edward Cumming.


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

Congratulations!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

Congratulations!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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



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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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

Congratulations!

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

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

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

The American Prize in Choral Performance, 2015, youth/school chorus

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

Congratulations!

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

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

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

The American Prize in Choral Performance, 2015, community chorus division

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The American Prize in Arts Marketing, 2015.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The American Prize in Opera Performance, 2015

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The American Prize in Conducting, Band/Wind Ensemble: College/University Division, 2015.

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The American Prize in Band/Wind Ensemble Performance, 2015, college/university division:

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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