Monday, September 2, 2013

CONDUCTING WINNERS, RUNNERS-UP: band, community orchestra, youth orchestra

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


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

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

Please make us aware of any misprints:

The American Prize in Conducting—Band/Wind Ensemble division

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


David Bernard’s discography includes 17 albums spanning music from Vivaldi to Copland, and released on, iTunes, Napster and Rhapsody.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The American Prize in Conducting
—Orchestra division, youth 

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

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

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

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

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

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


Congratulations to all winners and runners-up.

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