Sunday, September 21, 2014


The American Prize is honored to announce the winners and runners-up in the choral divisions of The American Prize in Composition, 2014. Congratulations! The competition also expects to announce Honorable Mention and/or Citation recipients in this category in a separate posting, at a later date.

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:

The American Prize in Composition—Chorus (professional division)

The American Prize winner:
DOMINICK DIORIO  selected works
Bloomington  IN
Dominick DiOrio
Called "a forward-thinking young composer filled with new ideas, ready to tackle anything," conductor and composer Dominick DiOrio was recently named Best Composer 2011 by HoustonPress for Klytemnestra, his opera with Divergence Vocal Theater. His second opera, The Little Blue One, will have its premiere in April 2014 with Juventas New Music Ensemble. He has been awarded prizes in composition ASCAP and ACDA, among others. His work is published with Alliance, Boosey & Hawkes, Éditions à Couer-Joie, Edition Peters, G. Schirmer, Lorenz, Mark Foster, Oxford and Santa Barbara.

DiOrio is assistant professor of choral conducting at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he directs NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. He earned the DMA degree in conducting from the Yale School of Music and the BM in composition from Ithaca College. He currently serves as Treasurer on the Executive Board for the National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO).

Among judges' comments: "His depth of vision, mastery of compositional technique and unique style, set him in a category by himself."

2nd Place:
DANIEL ELDER for "Three Themes of Life and Love"
Nashville  TN

Daniel Elder

As a writer of choral, vocal, and instrumental music, Daniel Elder (b. 1986) ties these genres together to create forms and aesthetics that are at once lyrical and textural, with impressionistic leanings. Critics have hailed his works as “deeply affecting,” with emotional evocations ranging from lush lyricism to jagged polyphony. Domestically, Elder’s compositions have been extensively performed by high school All-State and regional honors choirs as well as renowned college ensembles at both regional and national conferences. Internationally, he has been performed at festivals in Italy, Spain, and a recent recording in London by the Grammy Award-winning Eric Whitacre Singers.  The first major recording of Daniel's choral works, "The Heart's Reflection - Music of Daniel Elder" was released in October 2013 by the renowned Westminster Choir and Naxos of America.  Daniel is currently published by GIA Publications, Inc. and Imagine Music.  Learn more at

Among judges' comments: "His compositions represent some of the finest examples of the current generation of American choral composers."

3rd Place:
JOCELYN HAGEN for "Sanctus"
Minneapolis  MN

Jocelyn Hagen

Jocelyn Hagen (b.1980), a native of Valley City, North Dakota, composes music that has been described as “dramatic and deeply moving” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis/St. Paul). Her first forays into composition were via songwriting, and this is very evident in her work. The majority of her compositional output is for voice: solo, chamber and choral. In 2012 she collaborated with choreographer Penelope Freeh to create Slippery Fish, a quartet for 2 dancers, soprano and viola, and the piece was reviewed as "completely original in all respects." (Star Tribune, Minneapolis/St. Paul).  Currently she is Artist-in-Residence at the North Dakota State University School of Music, where she teaches, writes curriculum and brings in collaborators to perform her work.

Jocelyn holds degrees in Theory, Composition, and Vocal Music Education from St. Olaf College, as well as a Masters degree in Composition from the University of Minnesota.  Her training also includes summer study at the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, France, where she studied with Philip Lasser of the Juilliard School of Music. Other former teachers include Judith Lang Zaimont, Peter Hamlin, David Maslanka, Mary Ellen Childs, and Timothy Mahr.

Among judges' comments: "I suspect that Jocelyn Hagen’s work will soon become a fixture in the programming of top-notch choirs."

The American Prize in Composition—Chorus (student division)

The American Prize winner:
SAUNDER CHOI selected works
Cambridge  MA

Saunder Choi
Saunder Choi (b. 1988) is an emerging Filipino composer who has written a wide variety of works, from contemporary classical instrumental, vocal and choral works to jazz charts and popular music arrangements. His works have been performed in various concert halls, including Merkin Hall at the Lincoln Center in NY, the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, the world famous Teatro Colon opera house in Buenos Aires, the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, and in different international goodwill tours and concerts, such as the Philippine Madrigal Singers’ 2009 UNESCO Artists for Peace awarding ceremony, the 2010 Guido d’Arezzo Polifonico Choral Competition in Italy, the 2011 World Choral Symposium in Argentina, the 2012 World Choir Games in Ohio and the 2013 Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium. Select works have also been performed, recorded and read by the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, the Peninsula Women’s Chorus, the Salt Lake Choral Artists, the Kalistos Chamber Orchestra and the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium Chorus.

In 2007, his arrangement of Malinac Lay Labi was chosen as one of the 15 winning, published entries in Awiting Bayan para sa Korong Pilipino, a national Philippine folksong choral arranging competition sponsored by the National Commission for Culture and Arts in the Philippines. He was a 2012 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award finalist and received the 2013 Leroy Southers Award from the Berklee College of Music Composition Department. He was also one of the composers selected for the 1st Young Composers Initiative call for scores by the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

Born in Manila, Philippines, he holds a Bachelor of Arts major in Communication Arts degree from the De La Salle University-Manila and a Bachelor of Music in Composition, minor in Conducting, summa cum laude, from the Berklee College of Music. He is currently pursuing his Master of Music in Composition at the USC Thornton School of Music, studying with Donald Crockett. He studied composition with Andrew List, Marti Epstein and Vuk Kulenovic, and had master classes with Stephen Hartke, Chen Yi, Robert Kyr and Adam Gorb. He studied conducting with Isaiah Jackson and Francisco Noya. His works are published with Santa Barbara Music Publishing and Earthsongs.

Among judges' comments: "...his work is thoughtful, well crafted, stylistically interesting and full of joyousness."

2nd Place:
EDWARD F. DAVIS for "My Sun and Song and Spring," "Silver Bells," Requiem Aeternam
Chicago  IL

Edward F. Davis
Edward F. Davis (b. 1989) is a Chicago-based, English-American composer and bass-baritone. He graduated with Honors in music composition from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and is currently pursuing a Master of Music in composition at Roosevelt University's Chicago College of the Performing Arts. His music has been performed throughout the United States, including at the IMEA All-State Conference in 2011, as well as in the Catalunya region of Spain.

Davis has studied composition with Drs. Bruce Polay, Thomas Benjamin, Marta Ptaszyńska, Rob Deemer, and Stephen Andrew Taylor, and currently studies with Drs. Stacy Garrop and Kyong Mee Choi. He works as a sound designer and composer of original music at Rare Terra Theatre, and proudly serves as Composer-in-Residence for the Chicago Chamber Choir. He also works as a freelance professional singer in the Chicagoland area, performing with groups such as Bella Voce, Chicago Choral Artists, and Peregrine Vocal Ensemble (of which he is a founding member).

Among judges' comments: "...demonstrates a refreshing concern for melding text with musical idea."

3rd Place:
ZACHARY J. MOORE for "I Will Lift My Eyes"
Wind Lake  WI
Zachary J. Moore
Zachary J. Moore (b. 1992) is an American composer and arranger currently studying Music Education at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire.

Moore, who is a native resident of Wisconsin, attended Muskego High School and began composing at the age of fifteen. In 2010, he sent in his first composition to the Wisconsin State Music Association’s young composer contest, earning third place.

Moore has since had the opportunity to receive composition lessons from Ethan Wickman, Ola Gjeilo and Eric Barnum. Over the past year and a half he has received an increasing amount of commissions from choral groups and societies all over the nation including a commissioned work by the North Central American Choral Directors Association for their 2014 conference. Moore’s choral works have recently been published through Colla Voce. For more information on Moore:

Among judges' comments: "a lyrical setting of the 121st Psalm that shows great sensitivity to its textual meaning."

At a later date, The American Prize expects to award Honorable Mentions and/or Citations in one or more of the Choral Divisions.


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