Friday, September 7, 2012


The American Prize is pleased to announce the WINNERS, runners-up and citation recipients of The American Prize in Conducting—Orchestral Division, 2012. (For other 2012 ensemble and conducting winners, please scroll down.)

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The American Prize in Conducting—Professional Division

The American Prize Winner:
Dirk Meyer, music director, Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, Duluth, MN
Dirk Meyer (DMA) holds the position of Associate Conductor to the Sarasota Orchestra.
Meyer’s current season includes debuts with the Toronto Symphony, the Duluth Superior Symphony and the Springfield Symphony, as well as return engagements with the Orlando Philharmonic. Other engagements included the Naples, Mason and Traverse Symphony Orchestras as well as the Florida Orchestra and the Missouri and Jackson Symphony Orchestras. Possessing a passionate interest in the music of our time, Meyer published his book Chamber Orchestra and Ensemble Repertoire. A Catalog of Modern Music in 2011. He is actively involved in the commissioning and performance of new music.

Stefano Sarzani
Born in Italy (1984), Mr. Sarzani has been working on the educational projects of Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana. In 2011, he was finalist at the 1st Memphis SO Conducting Competition and at the 18th Capuana Competition, ranking respectively among the top five and the top three. He attended in the Masterclass of B.Haitink in Lucerne, studied at Accademia Chigiana, Siena, with G.Gelmetti and studied at Monteux School. He served as Assistant Conductor, Musical and Diction Coach at Indiana University from 2009 to 2011. He holds masters from Conservatorio Rossini, Pesaro, and from Indiana University, where he studied with David Effron and Athur Fagen.

3RD PLACE: There was a tie.
Lawrence Golan, music director, Yakima Symphony Orchestra, Yakima, WA
Lawrence Golan, 3-time Global Music Award winner, is currently in his second season as the Helen N. Jewett Music Director of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he is a tenured full professor at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music where he is Music Director and Conductor of the Lamont Symphony Orchestra and Opera Theatre. Golan guest conducts professional orchestras, opera, and ballet companies in the United States and around the world. Having conducted in 25 U.S. states and 16 countries, recent engagements include performances in Boulder, Macon, Memphis, Tucson, China, Czech Republic, Italy, Korea, and Taiwan.

3RD PLACE: There was a tie.
Steven Lipsitt, music director, Boston Classical Orchestra, Boston, MA 
Steven Lipsitt is recognized for his technically and expressively balanced interpretations. The New York Times’ Allan Kozinn described his work as “compelling” while The Boston Globe’s Richard Dyer called it “an impressive demonstration of talent and discipline.”

Now in his thirteenth season as Music Director of the Boston Classical Orchestra, Lipsitt has conducted orchestras in Russia, Greece, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, Canada, and the U.S., as well as Scottish Opera, the Kennedy Center Opera House, Boston Lyric Opera, the Boston Pops, and Boston Ballet.

Lipsitt won first prize at the inaugural “Dimitri Mitropoulos” International Conducting Competition, and first prize at the Marienbad “Georg Tintner” Mastercourse.


The American Prize in Conducting—Community Orchestra Division

The American Prize Winner:
David Bernard, music director, Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, New York, NY
Music Director of New York City’s 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. David 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 New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble and the Putnam Symphony. David Bernard’s discography includes 17 albums spanning music from Vivaldi to Copland, and released on, iTunes, Napster and Rhapsody.

David Bernard is a pianist and harpsichord/continuo player, and often leads Baroque works from the keyboard and performs in the dual role of soloist and conductor. He has also prepared a new edition of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 1 and written a textbook of music theory, The Structural Principles of Music. Mr. Bernard lectures on musicology, music history and musicianship, most recently “Musicianship in Performance,” an exploration of the decisions made when creating performances.

Devoted to the music of our own time, David 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 Días, Bart feller, Whoopi Goldberg, Judith Ingolfsson, Christina Jennings, Jessica Lee, Jon Manasse, Todd Phillips and James Archie Worley.

Prior to the 1999 founding of the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, David Bernard served as Music Director of the Stony Brook University Orchestra, the Gilbert and Sullivan Light Opera Company of Long Island and Theater Three. He also held the post of Assistant Conductor of both the Jacksonville and Stamford symphony orchestras.

David Bernard is an alumnus of The Juilliard School, Curtis Institute of Music, Stony Brook University, The Tanglewood Music Center and Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and studied with Sergiu Celibdache, David Lawton, Roger Nierenberg and Arthur Weisberg.

Lois Ferrari, music director, Austin Civic Orchestra, Austin, TX
Lois Ferrari is celebrating her tenth year as Music Director of the Austin Civic Orchestra. She is also Professor of Music at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX and has been a member of the faculty since 1993. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where she received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting, Dr. Ferrari was a recipient of a full doctoral fellowship and was appointed Assistant Conductor of the renowned Eastman Wind Ensemble. She also earned Masters and Bachelors degrees from the Ithaca College School of Music. Her mentors include Donald Hunsberger, Rodney Winther, David Effron, and Donald Neuen.

Robert Helmacy, music director, South Orange Symphony, Orange, NJ
Robert Helmacy holds degrees from Baldwin Wallace College, Juilliard, Boston University; and studied trumpet with William Vacchiano, Mel Broiles, Bernard Adelstein, conducting with Jorge Mester, George Poinar and Walter Susskind, and performance practice with Arthur Weisberg and James Chambers. He has conducted the South Orange Symphony for 40 years, conducted all orchestras and brass ensembles for Eastern Music Festival 1970-94, and founded Northern Tier Symphony (2010). He performed principal trumpet for the North Jersey Wind Symphony where he premiered the Hovhaness Trumpet Concerto, with the Aspen Festival Orchestra, and the South Orange Symphony. He has taught at Susquehanna University, Wilkes University and Caldwell College.


The American Prize in Conducting—College/University Orchestra Division

The American Prize Winner:
Gemma New, assistant conductor, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
Recently appointed Assistant Conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, GEMMA NEW makes several guest-conducting debuts this season, including concert appearances with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Symphonique de Trois-Rivières in Canada. She is initiator and conductor of the Baltimore-based LUNAR Ensemble—a group of talented singers and instrumentalists who specialize in the performance and promotion of contemporary music. Originally from New Zealand, New worked with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Southern Opera and Christchurch Youth Orchestra before moving to the States in 2009. A recent graduate of the Peabody Institute, New studied with Gustav Meier, and Markand Thakar.

Yorgos Kouritas, Music Director, Boise Philharmonic Youth Symphony, Boise, ID
Yorgos Kouritas is currently the Music Director of the Boise Philharmonic Youth Symphony and from next year he will also be the Assistant and Cover Conductor of the Boise Philharmonic. While pursuing his DMA at Eastman School of Music, he was also the Music Director of the New Horizons Orchestra and the Associate Conductor of Brighton Symphony. He previously had the position of Cincinnati Symphony Conducting Assistant and Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra Assistant Conductor. In summer 2010, he was chosen by Lorin Maazel as a Conducting Fellow for his festival in Virginia and he received great reviews. Other masterclasses he has been chosen to participate in are the Kurt Masur Conducting Seminar (twice), the Winnipeg Symphony Conducting Symposium and the Richmond Symphony Conducting Workshop.

David Rudge, Director of Orchestras and Opera, SUNY—Fredonia, NY
Dr. David Rudge is currently Director of Orchestras and Opera at the State University of New York at Fredonia, and Music Director of the Orchard Park Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted orchestras and operas in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South and Central America. He was a Senior Fulbright Fellow, an International Artistic Ambassador with the U.S. State Department, a two-time winner of the International Opera Conductors’ Competition in the Czech Republic, and has worked with such soloists as Mark O’Connor and Yo Yo Ma. He has taught conducting in Guatemala, Syria, Taiwan and at the Bard College Conductor’s Institute.


The American Prize in Conducting—Youth Orchestra Division

The American Prize Winner:
Michael Webster, music director, Houston Youth Symphony, Houston, TX
Michael Webster is professor of music at Rice University’s Shepherd School of
Music and artistic director of the Houston Youth Symphony. Formerly principal clarinetist with the Rochester Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony, Webster has appeared with many orchestras, string quartets and festivals spanning North America, South and Central America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.  He has been on the clarinet and conducting faculties of Eastman, New England Conservatory, and the University of Michigan.

James Feddeck, music director, Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra
James Feddeck is currently in his third season as Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and Assistant Conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra. In June 2012 he will be leading the youth orchestra on their first international tour to Prague, Vienna, and Salzburg.
He made his debut with The Cleveland Orchestra in August 2009 at the Blossom Music Festival and in March 2011, stepped in at the last minute to conduct the Zurich Opera’s production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni in Cleveland to critical acclaim. Recent conducting engagements include the orchestras of Atlanta, St. Louis, Charlotte, Toledo, Omaha, Grand Rapids, and the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he was admitted in four areas: piano, oboe, organ and conducting.

Beau Benson, Strings Coordinator, Waco Symphony Youth Orchestra
Beau Benson currently serves as Principal Conductor for the Dallas-based Metroplex Opera Company, as well as Assistant Conductor/Strings Coordinator for the Waco Symphony Youth Orchestra and Director of Orchestras for the Midway Independent School District in Waco, Texas.  Prior appointments include Music Director/Conductor for the Mason Orchestral Society (Michigan), Music Director for the Texas A&M University Orchestra, Assistant Conductor for the Flower Mound Symphony, and Assistant Conductor for The Living Opera Company.  He received his bachelors and masters degrees at Southern Methodist University and his DMA at Michigan State University.


The American Prize in Conducting—Special Citation for Excellence in Music Education
Jonathan Handman, Artistic Director, Stringendo Orchestra School of the Hudson Valley, Poughkeepsie, NY
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.   Mr. Handman was Oberlin Conservatory’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.

The American Prize in Conducting—Special Citation for Excellence in Music Education
Christopher T.F. Hanson, artistic director, SMART Orchestra, San Marcos, TX
Conductor, violinist, composer, pedagogue and musicologist, Hanson enjoys performing with a large and eclectic group of ensembles in the state of Texas and abroad. Recently, Hanson received his third Masters in Music theory from Texas State University. Hanson completed his first two Masters Degrees in Music History and Composition at Texas State in 2009. His research and performance engagements as a violinist afford him an array of opportunities across Texas and abroad. Hanson currently works as the orchestra conductor for San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District and the artistic director for the SMART Orchestra in San Marcos, TX.

Congratulations to all winners, runners-up and citation recipients.

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