"Taken as a whole, these are hardly 'students' (except in the sense that we all always are), these are exceptional composers, regardless of their age or degree status. They deserve to be listed specially, for the variety and excellence of their achievements."—DK
Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found elsewhere on this blog. Please use the chronological tool in the right-hand column to find specific results.
QUICKNOTES: Although The American Prize does not usually provide written evaluations to semi-finalists, some semi-finalist composers will receive in their certificate packets short comments, suggestions or overall impressions made during the judging. We hope they will prove valuable. All finalists receive written evaluations from a member of The American Prize judging panel.
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The American Prize in Composition—Chamber (student division)
The American Prize winner:
Lara Poe Chestnut Hill MA
Divergence—for string quartet
Poe received a Bachelor of Music degree from Boston University in 2016 where she studied composition with Alex Mincek, Joshua Fineberg, Martin Amlin, Ketty Nez, Richard Cornell, and with Kenneth Hesketh, while studying abroad at the Royal College of Music. Before Boston University, she studied at New England Conservatory Preparatory School with Rodney Lister as well. While pursuing composition, Lara has also studied piano, with Nigel Clayton (RCM), Linda Jiorle-Nagy, Edna Stern, Sergey Schepkin, Bertica Shulman-Cramer, Melanie Almiron and Vanessa Morris.
At Boston University, Poe received the Wainwright and Department of Theory and Composition awards, and was also nominated for Pi Kappa Lambda. She has been a finalist for the BMI student composition competition, and has been a finalist for the Morton Gould Young Composer Awards twice. She was also a co-winner of the UMass Lowell Chapter, National Music Conference, and has received an Honorable Mention in the Ithaca Women’s Works composition competition as well. Poe’s current projects include a violin concerto for Aija Reke and the Hancock Cantata orchestra, which will be premiered in Lexington, near Boston, MA. She is also working on a variety of smaller chamber music projects and a couple of solo pieces for colleagues at the RCM.
2nd Place (there was a tie):
Yihan Chen Planifield IN
spirits-river: a piano sonata
Chen Yihan is currently pursuing bachelor’s degrees in music composition and piano performance at Jacobs School of Music, studying composition with Claude Baker and piano with Arnaldo Cohen. His principle composition teachers also include Sven-David Sandström, Don Freund, P.Q. Phan, and Aaron Travers.
2nd Place (there was a tie):
Ian Evans Guthrie Fort Worth TX
Journey Through Cascadia—for mezzo-soprano and piano
|Ian Evans Guthrie|
Daniel Despins Wilmington DE
Medusa—for wind quintet
JUDGE'S CITATION: "Creating a unique, sustained sound world"
Joshua Hey Philadelphia PA
fissu/|rupT/t|eaR—for electric guitar
Dana Kaufman Miami FL
Halcyon Disquiet—for flute, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, electric guitar and violin
Joungmin Lee Columbus OH
Vexatious—for string quartet
Sangwon Lee Champaign IL
String Quartet No. 1
Christopher Lowry Antioch TN
Romanza—for four violas
Livewire!—for flute, clarinet, and horn
Aaron Mencher Johns Creek GA
Fast-Forward—for the Deviant Septet
Aaron’s New for Wind Ensemble won the 2015 NAfME Student Composers Competition. This piece was premiered by the All-National Concert Band. It is now distributed through Murphy Music Press. In The Forest won the 2014 Third Millennium Ensemble Prize Pre-College Division. Until 2015, he was the composer for The Dancing Goat Theater for many shows including A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night. He is currently attending University of Missouri on a full tuition music composition scholarship where he is studying under Stephen Freund and William Lackey. More information about Aaron and his music can be found at menchermusic.com.