Friday, April 14, 2017

ORCHESTRA winners, 2016-17, all divisions

 
The American Prize is honored to announce the winners, runners-up and honorable mention of The American Prize in ORCHESTRAL PERFORMANCE, 2016-17, in all divisions. Congratulations!

All applicants finalist or higher receive written evaluations from a member of The American Prize judging panel; the competitions reserve the right to award additional citations for merit up until the final announcement of results for 2016-17 has been made.

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.

Please make us aware of any misprints: theamericanprize@gmail.com
  
The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2017—professional division

The American Prize winner:
River Oaks Chamber Orchestra
    Alecia Lawyer, artistic director    Houston TX
River Oaks Chamber Orchestra
The River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) is a forty-piece professional chamber orchestra that was founded in 2005 by Alecia Lawyer. A Juilliard-trained musician with an eclectic background as a performer, recording artist, adjunct professor and radio host, Ms. Lawyer had a vision to reimagine the orchestral experience for both audience and musicians. The result is ROCO: an orchestra of all-star musicians, distinguished conductors and contemporary composers who come together from all over the world to present unexpected classics, original compositions and delightful performances that dissolve the barriers between audience and orchestra. www.roco.org


2nd Place:
Michigan Philharmonic
    Nan Washburn, music director    Plymouth MI
Michigan Philharmonic
The Michigan Philharmonic, one of the most innovative and dynamic professional orchestras in Southeast Michigan, was recently awarded the prestigious Knight Foundation Arts Challenge Grant and received 2nd and 3rd Place honors from The American Prize, professional orchestra division. Nan Washburn, Music Director and Conductor since 1999, was the TAP Professional Conducting Winner in 2013 and has won 19 ASCAP Awards for Adventuresome Programming of Contemporary Music from the League of American Orchestras. Michigan Phil is bringing its events into an ever-expanding roster of Michigan communities, including Plymouth, Canton, Birmingham-Bloomfield, Brighton, Downtown Detroit, and many others. The organization is committed to reaching out to a broad and diverse array of audiences. Currently in its 70th Season, the orchestra plays a full season of concerts throughout the year including pops, outdoor, Bollywood and Fusion Festivals. The Philharmonic also has an extensive education program that includes the Michigan Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.


3rd Place:
Odysseus North Texas Chamber Orchestra
    Jason Lim, music director    McKinney TX
Odysseus North Texas Chamber Orchestra
Founded in Denton in 2012, Odysseus North Texas Chamber Orchestra consists of  professional classical musicians from the DFW area. In May 2012, Odysseus launched a successful inaugural performance featuring local soloists, performed with Christopher Deane, Professor of Percussion at the University of North Texas and gave the world premiere of Breathe by Brad Robin, a work commissioned by Artistic Director, Jason Lim. Innovative in its programs under the direction of Jason Lim, OCO collaborated with the Denton City Contemporary Ballet  staging a full ballet performance of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and in 2014 staged the premiere performance of the full production of Igor Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale. In 2014 OCO collaborated with world renowned double bassist, Jeff  Bradetich featuring the Tango music of Astor Piazzolla. In its short history, the Odysseus Chamber Orchestra has gained a growing national reputation as an emerging ensemble, winning third prize in the 2015 American Prize Competition for professional orchestras, 2nd prize in the 2014 and 3rd prize the year before. OCO has supported local service clubs like the Denton Breakfast Kiwanis Club, the Robson Ranch Kiwanis Club, sponsoring events such as the Eliminate Project Cruise and the Passing of the Banner Dinner. The outreach programs of Odysseus has expanded in the last two year, providing free chamber music series concerts, free amenity concerts in neighborhoods, educational school performances and collaborating with the Arts and Music Guild to organize the Summer Music Intensives.  Furthermore, OCO pioneered the Mentorship Program created by Artistic Director Jason Lim. This program provides high school orchestra students the opportunity to rehearse and perform side-by-side with members of OCO.  In 2014, OCO relocated from Denton and began planting new roots to become the resident professional orchestra of McKinney. www.odysseusorchestra.com 



The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2016-17—college/university division

The American Prize winner:
Baylor Symphony Orchestra
    Stephen Heyde, conductor    Waco TX
Baylor Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 1946, the Baylor Symphony has had only two resident conductors, Daniel Sternberg and, since 1984, Stephen Heyde. In a typical year 95 students from two dozen states and several foreign countries are selected to perform in the ensemble. The orchestra has performed at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, national conventions of the American String Teachers Association and the College Orchestra Directors Association and multiple times at the Texas Music Educators Convention. In 2003 the Symphony was featured in a PBS Special that aired nationally to an estimated audience of six million viewers. The orchestra has performed with many distinguished performers including Josef Gingold and Robert Shaw among many others and taken international tours of Costa Rica in 2004 and Belgium in 2010. The Baylor Symphony also presents annual concerts for 6000 school children, an unbroken tradition of 70 years and won The American Prize in 2014 and 2015.


2nd Place:
Peabody Symphony Orchestra
    Hajime Teri Murai, conductor    Baltimore MD
Peabody Symphony Orchestra
The Peabody Symphony Orchestra is the senior of the two full symphonic orchestras at the Peabody Conservatory of Music.  The members of the orchestra are primarily upper division and graduate students.  The Peabody Symphony Orchestra performs five to six symphonic concerts and a major opera production each season. Programming for the orchestra is designed to provide its members with a rich and diverse performance experience, centered around the standard repertoire, but including contemporary music, American works, and premiere performances.  Peabody orchestras have regularly won ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming.  The Peabody Symphony Orchestra has been praised by the Baltimore Sun and provides its audiences with committed, energetic, and heartfelt performances.


3rd Place: 
Cornell Chamber Orchestra
    Chris Younghoon Kim, conductor   Ithaca NY
Cornell Chamber Orchestra
Cornell Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Chris Younghoon Kim, present multiple concerts during each academic school year.  The membership of the orchestra is formed from students of all colleges and departments across the university-wide community.  It is the only non-music major orchestra to win first place among collegiate orchestras the ASCAP award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary music during the 2008-2009 season. It has won the Adventurous awards for 6 years in a row from 2008-2014. For the last seven seasons Cornell Orchestras have been jointly producing the Ithaca International conducting masterclasses with Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra.  



The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2016-17—community orchestra division

The American Prize winner: 
Texas Medical Center Orchestra
    Libi Lebel, conductor    Houston TX
Texas Medical Center Orchestra
Established in November 2000, Texas Medical Center Orchestra (TMCO) is one of very few community orchestras in the United States and the world with its origin in the health professions. It includes physicians, dentists, nurses, medical students, biomedical scientists, social workers and other allied health professionals who are dedicated to making music. Part of the orchestra’s mission is to provide health care professionals a creative outlet; offer affordable concerts to a diverse public audience; and bring public attention and support for, medically related and/or educational charities. Russian-born conductor Libi Lebel, founder and artistic director of TMCO, has a strong and growing reputation in the music world. Ms. Lebel has been listed as one of the 50 most influential women in Houston, (population over 2 million). She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Julliard School of Music and Westminster Choir College, in piano performance and conducting. Conducting appearances in New Jersey, New York, Texas, Russia and Romania have been met with high praise. In 2013, conductor Lebel led the TMCO in a well-received program at Carnegie Hall. As to her passion about music, Ms. Lebel says: “What inspires me is to make music come alive. To feel the love, pride, joy, sadness. To help it unfold in the most convincing and compelling way. With it, we connect to the very essence of our humanity, we then come into contact with that part of ourselves that expresses our most profound creativity. I am so lucky to have music in my life.”   


2nd Place (there was a tie):
Austin Civic Orchestra
    Lois Ferrari, conductor    Austin TX
Austin Civic Orchestra
Among the oldest community orchestras in the country, the Austin Civic Orchestra was founded in 1977 as a small group of string players which has since grown and evolved into the full 80-piece symphonic orchestra it is today. The ACO is committed to bringing high quality classical music to Austin area communities and to supporting young musicians in particular. To this end, the Orchestra offers free admittance to all students under the age of 18. In addition, the ACO sponsors the annual Pearl Amster Chamber Music Festival and co-sponsors (with the University of Texas) the annual Texas Rising Stars Concerto Contest. A champion of new music, ACO Music Director Lois Ferrari founded the Composition Contest in 2005. The ACO's illustrious list of guest artists include: Anton Nel, Lauren Lane, David Amram, David Whitwell, Peter Bay, and Hai Zheng. The ACO is proud to announce that all of its 2015-16 season concerts were underwritten by donors. http://www.austincivicorchestra.org


2nd Place (there was a tie):
Dudley House Orchestra
    Aaron Kuan, conductor    Cambridge MA
Dudley House Orchestra
The Dudley House Orchestra is affiliated with the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, MA. It's mission is to provide artistic enrichment by providing opportunities for qualified students, scholars, and community members to rehearse together and perform in public concerts. The orchestra aims to perform at a high level of artistic excellence while maintaining a rehearsal environment amenable to full-time students, scholars and professionals and making every reasonable effort to include musicians of varying levels of artistic experience. During the academic year, the orchestra presents a fall concert in Paine Hall and a spring concert in Sanders Theatre as part the Harvard Arts First Festival.


3rd Place:
Midwest Chamber Ensemble
    Steve Nelson Lewis Jr., conductor Prairie Village KS
Midwest Chamber Ensemble
The Midwest Chamber Ensemble is a Kansas City-based organization dedicated to the performance of chamber orchestra and chamber ensemble music. Ensemble members are primarily young professional musicians and exceptional music students. The Midwest Chamber Ensemble prepares its members for future career opportunities by creating a professional environment and providing audiences with quality performances. Joseph Kern is the Composer-in-Residence with the Midwest Chamber Ensemble.  Prior to college, he was surrounded by rural and small town living, church activities, American Rust Belt history, and traveling the northeast United States; these things have and continue to influence his musical life. Steve N. Lewis Jr. is the Music Director of the Midwest Chamber Ensemble where he conducts orchestra concerts and performs chamber music.  He has conducted the Missouri Symphony, the Wilson Symphony (NC), Classical Revolution-Kansas City, OvreArts (PA) and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. www.midwestchamberensemble.org 



The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2016-17—youth orchestra division 

The American Prize winner:
Houston Youth Symphony
    Michael Webster, conductor   Houston TX

Houston Youth Symphony
Celebrating its 70th season, Houston Youth Symphony (HYS) is the recipient of national acclaim including the 2015 first prize winner of the Mark of Excellence Award from The Foundation for Music Education and the 2015 American Prize in Orchestral Performance – Youth Orchestra Division. Each season approximately 350 musicians between the ages of seven and 19 come from across the greater Houston area to perform in one of four HYS orchestras. In addition to the core orchestra program, HYS offers advanced musicians a chamber music training program and an annual concerto competition. In the community, HYS provides free private music lessons for talented youth in select economically disadvantaged communities through the Melody Program. In January 2015, HYS launched the Coda Music Program, an after-school effort modeled after El Sistema that brings graduated, intensive string instruction to two elementary schools using classical music and group instruction to build community and social transformation.


2nd Place:
Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra
    Carolyn Watson, conductor   Interlochen MI

Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra
Winner of the 2015 American Prize in Orchestral Performance and Runner-up for the American Prize in Conducting, Australian conductor Carolyn Watson is Director of Orchestral Studies at Texas State University. From 2013-15 she held the position of Conductor of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, having also conducted the World Youth Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra. Prior to moving to the US Carolyn enjoyed a successful tenure as the inaugural Conductor-in-Residence at Sydney's Conservatorium High School from 2011-2013. A Fellow of the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival, Carolyn was a major prizewinner at the 2012 Emmerich Kálmán International Operetta Conducting Competition in Budapest. She is the recipient of the Brian Stacey Award for Emerging Australian Conductors, Charles Mackerras Conducting Prize, Nelly Apt Scholarship and Opera Foundation Australia’s Bayreuth Opera Award and Berlin New Music Opera Award. Dr. Watson holds a PhD in Performance (Conducting) from the University of Sydney where the subject of her doctoral thesis was Gesture as Communication: The Art of Carlos Kleiber. www.carolyn-watson.com



The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2016-17—high school orchestra division

The American Prize winner:
Plano West Chamber Orchestra
    Ryan Ross, director   Plano TX
Plano West Chamber Orchestra
The Plano West Orchestra is proud to be recognized as one of the most accomplished orchestra programs in America. Plano West is a grade 11 and 12 campus in Plano, TX, a Dallas suburb. The orchestra program currently serves shy of 200 students in four orchestras. Since its inception, Plano West has been recognized as the Texas String Honor Orchestra six times, most recently in 2016. Nationally, it has been recognized as an invited orchestra at the Midwest Clinic and been named a National Winner in the Mark of Excellence National Orchestra Honors.  The program as a whole routinely earns sweepstakes awards at the annual UIL competition.  The program is led by Director of Orchestras, Ryan Ross.  And for many years, Associate Director Amy Gross has been a key player in helping the program grow and thrive.  


2nd Place: 
Arlington HS Philharmonia
    Jon Handman, director    LeGrangeville NY
Arlington HS Philharmonia
Arlington High School's Philharmonia is the most advanced of five orchestras and has been selected to perform at the 2015 NY State School Boards Convention, the 2014 NYSSMA Winter Conference and was the Grand Champion of the ASTA National Orchestra Festival in March 2012. The program consists of two ninth grade string orchestra and three symphonic orchestras for students in grades 10-12, of which Ms. Elizabeth Handman and  Mr. Jonathan Handman are the directors.  In total, the program has over 250 string students and 70 wind/percussion members that join the strings every other day as their second ensemble in addition to the band program that they are members of.  Arlington Central School District’s High School Principal is Mr. Paul Fanuele and Music Coordinator is Mr. Richard Guillen. 


3rd Place:
Allen HS Symphony Orchestra
    David DeVoto, director    Allen TX

Allen HS Symphony Orchestra
The Allen ISD Orchestra program began in 1997 at the 6th grade level with approximately 50 students. By 2002, the 30 member Allen High School orchestra began performing in their first concerts and festivals and earned their first “sweepstakes” UIL award.  Since 2002, the HS orchestra program grew to 300+ students, placed in the finals of the Texas Honor Orchestra Competition in 2004, 2006, 2007,  2015, and 2016 and was accepted to the Midwest Clinic in 2006.  Today, there are over 1,300 orchestra students in Allen ISD: seventeen elementary orchestras, three middle school orchestra programs with 4 or 5 orchestras each, a freshman center orchestra program with a full orchestra and four string orchestras, and the high school orchestra program with a full orchestra and six string orchestras. Students in the AISD orchestra program participate in UIL Region XXV Solo & Concert Contests and the Texas Music Educators Association All-State Orchestras and Bands.


Honorable Mention:
Reagan Chamber Orchestra
    Sixto Elizondo IV, director   San Antonio TX
Reagan Chamber Orchestra
The Ronald Reagan orchestra program comprises of seven performing ensembles with a total enrollment of 245. The musicians in the Chamber Orchestra serve as the string section of the RRSO. The Reagan Orchestra performs six major concerts a year, including a young people’s concert which serves 1700 elementary and middle school students in the Reagan Cluster.  Members of the orchestra also serve the greater Stone Oak community by performing at events, nursing homes and in our cluster schools. The Reagan Orchestra has a long standing tradition of excellence in performance and service, and this tradition has continued under the direction of their Director, Sixto Elizondo IV.


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Congratulations!


 

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