Monday, December 22, 2014


Two college/university choruses are the first ensembles to be selected as Honored Artists of The American Prize by the national nonprofit competitions. "Honored Artists" are individuals or organizations who have proven themselves to be of “sustained excellence" over a number of seasons as contestants in the competitions.

Earlier this fall, Maestro David Katz, chief judge of The American Prize, expressed a hope for the competitions "to do more" to advance the art. The creation of the Honored Artist designation is one way the competition seeks to bring additional recognition to laureates it deems especially worthy

The two choruses selected as Honored Artists of The American Prize for 2014 are:

University of South Dakota Chamber Singers
David Holdhusen, director
Vermillion, SD
"Re-choired Element" Chamber Choir of Linn-Benton Community College
James Reddan, director
Albany, OR

“In many ways, these two choral groups epitomize the mission of The American Prize to recognize and reward excellence in the performing arts, wherever and whenever in America it is found,” said Katz. “The University of South Dakota Chamber Singers and Linn-Benton "Re-choired Element" Chamber Choir have displayed continuing artistry in the contests over several seasons.

"The lesson is obvious: gifted students, lead by an inspiring teacher, supported by an enlightened administration and an enthusiastic community, equates to excellence, whether in Albany, Oregon and Vermillion, South Dakota. As The American Prize has shown time and again, it is clearly who you are and what you do that matters. We are delighted to bring added attention to these fine ensembles, and congratulate their members and directors on a continuing job well done."

USD Chamber Singers, David Holdhusen, director
The Chamber Singers is the premiere vocal ensemble at the University of South Dakota. It is comprised of graduate and undergraduate students selected through audition from the entire university student body. Known to critics for “creating a choral concert of stunning beauty and musical understanding,” its repertoire, which is primarily a cappella, includes music from the Renaissance to the present in a wide variety of styles. The ensemble presents formal concerts on campus each semester and its annual tour has taken the group throughout the United States and Europe. They have performed for state and regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and the Music Educators National Conference and have appeared on the public radio program “Going Beyond Words.” The Chamber Singers have been selected as a finalists for the The American Prize in Choral Performance (College and University Division) each of the last four years.

Dr. Holdhusen was the recipient of the SD-ACDA Encore Award for excellence and achievement in the field of choral music and the prestigious Belbas-Larson Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor USD bestows on its educators.  He is in demand as a guest conductor, adjudicator, and clinician throughout the region.  He is a member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), the College Music Society, the National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO) and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME).  Dr. Holdhusen has had research published in national journals and presented clinics and interest sessions throughout the country.   He has been elected to leadership positions in various organizations, including a term as President for the South Dakota Chapter of ACDA.  His book, “Commitment to Musical Excellence” is published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.  Choirs under his direction have been invited to perform at state and regional festivals and conventions, have won first place and grand champion awards in music festivals throughout the country, and on four consecutive occasions been named a finalist for the The American Prize in Choral Performance.

Honored Artists will be highlighted in a separate section on The American Prize website and on the competition’s Facebook pages, will receive expanded listings on The American Prize blog, will be featured in individualized press releases sent to local, regional and national media, and receive a special, framed certificate. Honored Artists also receive an application fee waiver for a future competition.

CRITERIA for SELECTION: The American Prize Honored Artists must meet these criteria:

    •    May be nominated by any member of The American Prize national judging panel.
    •    Will have reached finalist status or higher and/or received an Honorable Mention or Special Judge's Certificate in at least three different competition years, which need not be consecutive.
    •    Will have won The American Prize (first place) no more than one time.
    •    Will have consistently received exceptional evaluations in their chosen area of endeavor.
    •    Will be honored during a season in which they are an active participant.
    •    Accept the designation.
    •    There is no minimum or maximum number that will be awarded each season.

Abraham R. Katz

"Honored Artists of The American Prize" are given in memory of David Katz’s father, Abraham R. Katz, a gifted amateur musician, who died in 1999.

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