Thursday, May 31, 2012


The American Prize is very pleased to announce the winners of The American Prize in Composition, 2012, in the choral division. (Orchestral winners at 4pm.)

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

Information about The American Prize in Composition, 2013, will be posted to our website in several weeks. In addition to competitions in orchestral and choral composition, there will be new categories for band or wind ensemble, and in chamber music (unconducted works for solo performer or multiple groupings, vocal or instrumental, in all styles.)

Please make us aware of any misprints in the listings below:

The American Prize in Composition (CHORAL), 2012—PROFESSIONAL DIVISION:

The American Prize winner:
Amherst Requiem
words: missa pro defunctis and Emily Dickinson

Largely self-taught as a composer, Brian Holmes usually composes for chorus or solo voice.  His works include three operas, two musicals, a Requiem Mass, two extended works for chorus and orchestra, ten song cycles, over one hundred works for chorus, and a variety of works for orchestra, band, and chamber groups.  He has numerous commissions, composition prizes, recordings, and publications to his credit.  He has been composer in residence to four choruses in the San Francisco Bay area.  Holmes is a professor of Physics at San Jose State University, where he teaches a course on the physics of music.

2nd Place:
selected choral works

Jenni Brandon (b. 1977) is an award-winning composer whose music has been featured by ensembles in venues across the world, including Carnegie Hall, as well as regularly on radio broadcasts across the United States.  Commissioned and recorded by many ensembles, her music is also published by Boosey & Hawkes, Graphite Publishing, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, as well as Jenni Brandon Music. Active also as a conductor, she frequently makes guest appearances and currently leads The Concert Singers in Los Angeles.  Her first self-produced CD, Songs of California: Music for Winds and Piano was released in 2010. Please visit

3rd Place:
Thy light has come

Composer and conductor David P. Sartor is Adjunct Professor of Composition at Trevecca Nazarene University.  He has received the prestigious Ostwald Award from the American Bandmasters Association, the National Fine Arts Award, and more than two dozen awards from New Music for Young Ensembles, Meet The Composer, Delta Omicron and ASCAP, among others.  In 2009, Sartor was inducted as a National Patron of Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity in recognition of his accomplishments as a composer and conductor.  His works are recorded on the ERM label and are published by E.C. Schirmer, Shawnee Press, and Metamorphic Music. Web site:

The American Prize has also awarded a Special Judge's Citation in Choral Composition for 2012.

Soft Footfalls: Song of the Anasazi

Composer Anne Kilstofte has received awards and honors from ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, the Bush Artist Fellowship Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, several McKnight Fellowships and a Fulbright Senior Scholarship.  She continues to receive commissions from prominent national and international ensembles from Asia, Europe, and North America.  Her work has been heralded for its exceptional variety of tone color and atmospheric display of light and sound. She received her Ph.D. in Music Theory and Composition from the University of Minnesota, studying with Pulitzer prize-winning composer Dominick Argento.  Her website offers listening and information about her works.


The American Prize in Composition (CHORAL), 2012—STUDENT DIVISION:

The American Prize winner:
selected choral works

An accomplished singer and pianist, Joshua Fishbein is a natural fit as a composer, choral conductor, and music teacher. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Fishbein studied at The Peabody Preparatory. He won the orchestra prize from Carnegie Mellon University as an undergraduate. Fishbein completed his Master’s degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he won the art song competition. Fishbein has also won competitions sponsored by the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Shalshelet, WomenSing, The Esoterics, the National Lutheran Choir, the Guild of Temple Musicians, and the American Choral Directors Association. Currently, Fishbein is a PhD student at UCLA.

2nd Place:
selected choral works

Jason Michael Saunders was born in 1989 and was raised in the Portland, Oregon area. In December 2011 he graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, where he earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree. Saunders has composed since the age of 16, and has conducted the premiere performances of many of his works. His choral compositions have been performed by ensembles across the United States and in Europe. At Pacific Lutheran, Saunders studied composition with Dr. Gregory Youtz and choral conducting with Dr. Richard Nance and Dr. Brian Galante. For more information, please visit

3rd Place:
Carmen Vocis

Costas Dafnis (b. 1989 in Athens, Greece) is a composer of modern concert music. He is a founding member of Noisi Paintr, a consortium of musicians dedicated to progressive sound. When not composing, Costas spends his time playing mandolin poorly and reading all of the strange, obscure poetry he pretends to like.


Congratulations to all winners and runners-up.

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