Wednesday, November 11, 2015

COMPOSER WINNERS: chamber music (student division), 2015

The American Prize is honored to announce the winners, runners-up and citations recipients in the student chamber music divisions of The American Prize in Composition, 2015. Congratulations!

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—Chamber Music (student division)

The American Prize winner:
Derek David    Boston MA
    String Quartet No. 1, Viola Sonata
Derek David
Praised by composer John Adams for his “masterful demonstration of technique” in his viola sonata, composer Derek David is emerging as an exciting new musical talent of contemporary concert music. Adams also went on to say that he was “dazzled by [David’s] capabilities and musicality.”

As a composer, Derek has been the recipient of the EAMA prize, Morton Gould ASCAP Award, and has received composition fellowships from the EAMA and Aspen Music Festivals. As an educator, Derek has been teaching keyboard harmony at The New England Conservatory of Music since and has held an interim faculty position at the Boston Conservatory in the fall semester of 2014 where he taught theory, musicianship, and keyboard harmony. Mr. David is a current teaching fellow at Harvard University where he teaches music theory.

He currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts where he is completing his Doctor of Music degree in composition at the New England Conservatory of Music in the studio of Michael Gandolfi. For more information and a full biography, please visit

2nd Place:
Bin Li    New York NY
    What I Have Forgotten
Bin Li
Bin Li (b. 1987, Fuzhou, China) is an emerging composer based in New York City. His music has been performed internationally in festivals and venues such as the Aspen Music Festival, Avanti! XXIX Suvisoitto (Finland), Palais Montcalm (Quebec), Neuen Synagoge (Berlin), Yogyakarta Contemporary Music Festival (Indonesia), the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre, Midwest Composers Symposium and SoundCrawl. Bin has won prizes from SCI/ASCAP Commissioning Competition, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Composition Competition, International Society of Bassists Composition Competition and Cortona Prize.

Bin holds degrees from the Jacobs School of Music and the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. His principle teachers at IU were P.Q. Phan, David Dzubay, Claude Baker and Jeffrey Hass (Electronic).  Additional studies include Samuel Adler in Berlin (2012), George Tsontakis at Aspen Festival (2012), Georg Friedrich Haas and Fred Lerdahl in France (2013), and Jukka Tiensuu and Jouni Kaipainen at Sävellyspaja in Finland (2014). For more information, please visit

3rd Place:
Trevor Bumgarner    New York NY
   Everything Went Quiet
Trevor Bumgarner
From North Carolina, Trevor Bumgarner is a bassoonist who first began composing during college. He is currently in the Masters of Music Composition program at the Juilliard School studying with Robert Beaser. His first composition received the Emerging Composer mention, the first of three consecutive awards including honorable mention, from the Tribeca New Music Young Composers Competition. Trevor won the 2013 Edging the Cut competition and was an American Prize semi-finalist. He has had performances or recordings by groups such as the Cassatt Quartet, Dark in the Song, and members of the International Contemporary Ensemble. Trevor has had performances at several conferences including the Society of Composers Student National Conference and the NASA region IV conference. Trevor Bumgarner graduated from UNC-Greensboro summa cum laude with a BM in Composition and Bassoon Performance studying with Mark Engebretson, Alejandro Rutty, and Michael Burns. Website:

The American Prize in Composition—Chamber Music (student division)

Jean Patrick Besingrand    Pittsburgh PA
    Et le vent murmura le nom de Sarah
Jean Patrick Besingrand
Jean-Patrick Besingrand was born in France in 1985. He has a Master’s degree in Musicology from the University of Bordeaux, and graduated with high honors in Analysis, Harmony, Counterpoint, Fugue, Composition, and Soundpainting from the Bordeaux Conservatory under the tutelage of Patrice DeFaccio, Laurent Soulié, Jean-Louis Agobet, and Etienne Rolin. Currently, he is enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University’s Advanced Certificate in Composition program under the supervision of Leonardo Balada. He is also working on his doctoral thesis at the Sorbonne in Paris. Jean-Patrick has participated in several festivals and masterclasses,  and has received recognition from composition competitions around the world.

His music has been performed by the Mivos Quartet, the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic, the Carnegie Mellon Contemporary Ensemble, the Very Small Consortium Ensemble, the Aurae Duo, and by the soloists Thomas Piercy, Vilian Ivantchev, Elsa Seger, and Andrew White.
His music is published by Questions de Tempéraments.

Cody Brookshire    Gainesville GA
Cody Brookshire
Cody Brookshire's music has been performed at events and venues such as the 2015 N_SEME at Bowling Green State University, the OME Marathon Concert in Phoenix, Arizona, the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival at the Abrons Art Center, the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology Symposium in Connecticut, and the Guangzhou Grand Theater in China. He has written music for So Percussion, the Athens Guitar Duo, the University of Georgia Bands, and the University of North Georgia String Orchestra. Awards include 1st place in the 2014 SCL Competition with his guitar trio, Shrapnel, and he was a semi-finalist for the 2013 American Prize in Composition with Slumbers Kiss Your Golden Eyes for flute, viola, and harp. Two of his electronic compositions have been digitally released: Harmonic Meditation, No. 1 appears on the 2014 SEAMUS Electroacoustic Miniatures album Transients, and M3TA11UR6Y appears on Sonic Flux released by the EMPiRES label.

Daniel Despins    Wilmington DE
    Off to War, Lads
Daniel Despins
Daniel Despins (b. 1994) is a composer of contemporary classical music flavored with many different styles, including jazz, rock, folk, and traditional music, with strong influences from classical music of the 20th and 21st centuries. He has written for choral, instrumental, and chamber ensembles, as well as duets and smaller works for solo voices and instruments. He currently resides in Newark, Delaware, where he studies music composition at the University of Delaware. His works have been performed both throughout the university’s campus and in communities throughout New Castle County. His music can be found online at

Zachary Ploeger    Pipestone MN
    Galactic Voyage
Zachary Ploeger
Trumpeter and Composer, Zachary Ploeger is a promising up and coming musician. As a senior in high school, Zach began to experiment in composition, having his first piece for band played only months later. Zach now studies trumpet performance and composition at Western Michigan University, one of the nations premier public schools of music. Zachary’s primary teachers at Western are Scott Thornberg, trumpet, and Dr. Richard Adams, composition.

As a composer, Zach writes a wide range of works. His pieces are frequently played on recitals and composers concerts at Western Michigan University and in the surrounding Midwest area. Zach was recently named a Minnesota Public Radio Finalist in their young composers contest. Zach is also a published composer, having his pieces on the websites of both J.W. Pepper and Sons, as well as Sheet Music Plus. He also maintains a website where all of his pieces can be viewed, ordered, or heard. Zach has studied composition with Dr. Richard Adams and Dr. Lisa Coons and is a member of both The Society of Composers and ASCAP.

Weijun Chen    Buffalo NY
Weijun Chen
Weijun Chen (b. 1990) is a Chinese-American composer of contemporary concert music. His music has been performed and read by ensembles such as Eastman Wind Ensemble, Arditti Quartet (UK), TALEA Ensemble, Momenta Quartet, Uusinta Ensemble (Finland), Deviant Septet, Freya String Quartet, Cuong Vu Trio, Ensemble Son (Sweden), and Either/OR, among others. A Presidential Fellow, Weijun is currently pursuing his PhD at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he studies composition with David Felder. He has studied composition with Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, Lisa Bielawa, David Liptak, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, and Robert Morris. Weijun holds two BMs from the Eastman School of Music in both composition and music theory (Highest Distinction), as well as an Arts Leadership Certificate. For more information, please visit

Hangrui Zhang    Cincinnati OH
    A Wild Runaway
Hangrui Zhang
Hangrui Zhang (b.1989) is a Chinese student composer. Now, he is studying in College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) as a third-year undergraduate student. Hangrui entered the world of music much later than most of his contemporaries. At the age of 20, he found his interest in music, and began his study as a beginner. During that time, he studied music very independently, and often involving self-teaching. After two-year music study and one-year English study, in the year of 2012, he began his first formal music study in CCM. His composition teachers include Jian Feng, Mara Helmuth, Douglas Knehans and Michael Fiday. His music has been performed by such groups as the Eurydice Quartet, the Donald Sinta Quartet, the CCM Chamber Players, and by performers at the College-Conservatory of Music.

The American Prize in Composition—Chamber Music (student division)

Christopher Couling    South Lyon MI
    Apres un Reve
Christopher Couling
Christopher Couling attends South Lyon High School in South Lyon, MI. He hopes to continue composing music throughout his life, and is an avid supporter of melody. Chris can be contacted a

Brandon Rafal Epstein    Dix Hills NY

Brandon Rafal Epstein
·       Music Education:
-The Juilliard School, Private music composition student of Dr. Kyle Blaha, 2009-present.
-Piano (lessons and recitals), student of Robin Helfner: 2006-present.
-Viola (lessons and recitals), student of Siobhan Hohf: 2008-present.
·       Orchestra:
-Gemini Youth Orchestra, Symphony (viola): 2014-present.
-Gemini Youth Orchestra, Philharmonia (viola): 2012-2014.
-Half Hollow Hills Cross Campus Chamber Orchestra (viola): 2013-present.
-Half Hollow Hills Symphony Orchestra (viola): 2014-present.
·       Tri-M Music Honor Society: 2013-present.
·       Performance History:
-Concerts at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Gemini Youth Symphony Orchestra (2015), Gemini Youth Philharmonia Orchestra (2013, 2014).
·       Award History:
-Finalist in ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composers Award in 2014
-First Place Award and Overall Best Orchestra Award in Music in the Parks 2013 and 2014 Competitions.

Julia Riew    St.Louis MO
    Laughing Lake 
Julia Riew
Julia Riew, 15, is a sophomore at John Burroughs School.  She started playing the violin at age four and studies with Joo Kim at the Community Music School of Webster University (CMS).  Julia began composing at age 8 and recently has composed an orchestral piece as well as a quartet piece, both of which were performed during concerts at her school. Furthermore, Julia loves songwriting and has written over a dozen songs as well her first musical this year.

Julia currently sits as concertmaster of the John Burroughs Senior Orchestra. Julia has also played in the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and four orchestras at CMS. She is honored to be the recipient of three merit scholarships at the CMS.  During her free time, Julia enjoys singing, acting, playing the guitar and ukulele.  She also enjoys reading to preschool aged children in the Ready Readers Program.

Ben Vining    Flagstaff AZ
    Starry Night Over The Rhone
Ben Vining
Ben Vining is a young composer living in Flagstaff, Arizona. A high school senior aged 16, The American Prize in Chamber Music Composition is one of Mr. Vining's first major awards, for his set of impressions for string quartet inspired by the van Gogh painting "Starry Night Over The Rhone".

Mr. Vining enjoys writing concert music and performing as a cellist, but his ultimate goal is to write and stage opera.

In the fall, Ben will be attending Arizona State University to study music theory and composition.


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