Friday, August 3, 2018

ERNST BACON AWARD (American Music Performance): ensemble divisions, 2017-18

Ernst Bacon
The American Prize is honored to announce WINNERS, runners-up, citation recipients and honorable mentions of the ERNST BACON MEMORIAL AWARD for the PERFORMANCE of AMERICAN MUSIC, 2017-18, in ensemble divisions. Congratulations! (Solo artist division winners of the Bacon Award are posted separately.)

Among the many contests of The American Prize, the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music is unique. It recognizes and rewards the best performances of American music by ensembles and individual artists worldwide, based on submitted recordings. Applications are accepted from professional, college/university, community and high school age solo artists, chamber ensembles and conducted ensembles, competing in separate divisions, and from composers with excellent recordings of their works. Beginning in 2017-18, categories were expanded to encompass performances of American music in practically any instrumentation or genre, with very few repertoire restrictions.

Focused exclusively on works by American composers from any period and in any style, the contest not only judges performances, but in the case of new or unfamiliar works, the music itself.

Ernst Bacon (1898—1990) was one of that pioneering generation of composers who, along with Thomson, Copland, Harris, and others, found a voice for American music. Winner of a Pulitzer Scholarship (for his Symphony in D minor) and no fewer than three Guggenheim Fellowships, Ernst Bacon set out to create compositions that expressed the vitality and affirmative spirit of our country. It is fitting, and with honor, that The American Prize created an annual award in the memory of Ernst Bacon, recognizing the finest performances of American music worldwide. To learn more about the music & legacy of Ernst Bacon, please visit the website of the Ernst Bacon Society.

Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email:

The American Prize ERNST BACON MEMORIAL AWARD for the PERFORMANCE of AMERICAN MUSIC, PROFESSIONAL ensemble division, 2017-18

The American Prize winner:
Giselle Wyers, conductor
Solaris Vocal Ensemble
Seattle WA
Floodsongs—Anne LeBaron

Solaris Vocal Ensemble
Solaris Vocal Ensemble consists of 12 professional vocalists from the Seattle area. They seek to encourage a renaissance in innovation in the field of choral music and specialize in new American works, including world premieres. Every project is unique and never repeated.  Their premiere concert featured four American world premieres which culminated in a CD recording available through Albany Records.  In 2015, they launched “Burning the Bridge,” a neo-medieval tale of love and courtship, with a narrative thread stitched between every piece, featuring expressive movement choreographed by a dancer.  Solaris is thrilled to have continued collaborations with Seattle Modern Orchestra, including last month's “Quest”, a program of works by Julia Wolfe, Ted Hearne, and Stuart Dempster, and a full concert honoring American music luminaries Stuart Dempster and Robert Erickson, entitled “Double Portrait.”

Giselle Wyers, founding conductor of Solaris, is the Donald E. Petersen Associate Endowed Professor of Choral Music at the University of Washington. She has conducted All-State and honor choirs in New York (Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center), Georgia, Connecticut, Nebraska, Texas, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, and Vancouver, Canada. She has conducted semi-professional ensembles across the United States and in Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia, and Sweden. She is series editor of the Giselle Wyers Choral Series through Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and is regularly commissioned to compose new works for high school, community, and professionally-based choirs across the United States and in Europe.

Second Place:
Reuben Blundell, conductor
Gowanus Arts Ensemble
Brooklyn NY
“American Romantics”—music by Foote, Busch, Parker, more

Reuben Blundell
The Gowanus Arts Ensemble, with conductor Reuben Blundell, released this CD in April 2016. It garnered outstanding reviews in Gramophone Magazine, American Record Guide, Australia’s Limelight Magazine and other major outlets, and continues to be featured on classical radio.  They recently recorded a second CD, with release anticipated in late 2017.  The group is named after Brooklyn’s Gowanus Arts Building, in a corner of Brooklyn rejuvenating through investment in the environment and the arts.

The Gowanus Arts Ensemble comprises some of New York’s finest musicians, who can be found playing as soloists, in Broadway shows and other major ensembles. For the 2016 CD, its members were violinists Hiroko Taguchi (concertmaster), Orlando Wells, Yuiko Kamakari, Elizabeth Nielsen, and Sarah Zun, violists Entela Barci and Carla Fabiani, cellists Julian Schwarz and Alisa Horn, and bassist Rick Ostrovsky.

Reuben Blundell is Music Director of the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra near Philadelphia, and New York’s Riverside Orchestra. He recently completed eight transformative years with the orchestra at Hunter College (CUNY) and has served as a Chelsea Symphony conductor for five years.  Blundell has performed in his native Australia, in Austria, Chile, Holland, Iraq, Japan, and Lebanon. He conducted the New World Symphony in their 2013 John Cage festival.

After studies in Melbourne and Sydney, he was a Tanglewood Fellow (’02 & ’03) and a principal New World Symphony violinist (2003-05). He attended the Monteux School (’05 & ’06) and Eastman, earning a conducting DMA with Neil Varon and studying violin with Zvi Zeitlin.

Third Place (there was a tie):
Michael S. Horwood, composer
Sinfonia Varsovia 

Ian Hobson, conductor
Joseph Kubera, piano
Warsaw Poland
Intravariations— Horwood

Michael S. Horwood
Michael S. Horwood (b. 1947, Buffalo, NY) studied with Lejaren Hiller, Lukas Foss, and Istvan Anhalt at SUNY Buffalo (BA, MA). His composition career developed with performances, broadcasts, recordings and commissions, while securing professorship at Humber College in Toronto. His 60+ compositions constitute a kaleidoscope of directions including avant-garde, jazz, minimalism, electroacoustic and neo-romanticism. Besides the wide variety, Horwood has an acute sense of sonority and a subtle use of humor. He has composed for conventional ensembles, unusual instrumental combinations, flexible scoring, dance, theater and film. He resides in Tucson, Arizona. 
Sinfonia Varsovia
Sinfonia Varsovia began in 1984 as an expansion of the Polish Chamber Orchestra and was led by Yehudi Menuhin. Krzysztof Penderecki is the current music and artistic director. The Sinfonia Varsovia is a Warsaw cultural institution. It performs at many prestigious concert halls and festivals, working with world renowned conductors and soloists. The orchestra has recorded over 280 CDs, many of which have received impressive prizes.
Ian Hobson
Pianist, conductor, scholar, educator, adjudicator and founder of the Sinfonia da Camera, Ian Hobson is internationally recognized for his extraordinarily comprehensive repertoire new and old, consummate performances of Romantic and contemporary composers. His discography covers over 60 recordings for 10 CD labels.
Joseph Kubera
Joseph Kubera is recognized as a leading interpreter of contemporary music for over 30 years as witnessed by extensive touring, impressive reviews and recordings on 10 different prestigious new music labels. A soloist at numerous new music festivals, he has championed a diverse range of who’s who in contemporary music.

Third Place (there was a tie):
Rain Worthington, composer
Missouri State University Symphony 

Christoper Kelts, conductor
Springfield MO
Tracing a Dream—Worthington

Rain Worthington
“There is a deep interiority to this music . . . Worthington has an instantly recognizable sound, an austere sensuality not quite like anyone else . . . a composer of considerable imagination, emotional expressiveness, and poetic sensibility.” – American Record Guide

Performances of Rain Worthington’s compositions have spanned the globe from Brazil to Iceland to Armenia, with premieres in Tokyo, Oxford University, and the Delhi Music Society in India. Her work takes “. . . ideas of American musical style to a new place – like a walk in a familiar, yet very different park” – Chamber Music magazine

Her catalog includes works for orchestra, mixed chamber ensembles, violin duo, solo marimba and even a miniature for oud. When asked what inspires her music, Rain says the impulses for new pieces have ranged from the sounds of “NYC garbage trucks backing up late in the night, to the two-note expression of a sigh, to a dream of a careening bike ride through dark fog.”

In 2016 Navona Records released Worthington’s CD of orchestral works “DREAM VAPORS” to critical acclaim. That same year Missouri State University Symphony premiered her orchestral work, “Tracing a Dream.” Worthington returned to MSU 2017 as guest composer for a residency and the premiere of “In Passages” – for violin soloist and string orchestra. This work is scheduled for a PARMA Recordings session in 2017 with Croatian conductor, Miran Vaupotić. In addition to composing, Worthington serves as Artistic Administrator/Composer Advocate for the New York Women Composers.
Missouri State University Symphony
Christoper Kelts
The Missouri State University Symphony Orchestra is a full-sized symphonic orchestra that performs from the complete range of symphonic repertoire.  Its members come from all different walks of academic life.  Students performing in the University Symphony are music majors, music minors and non-majors.  The orchestra’s diverse musicians come from all parts of the State of Missouri, the greater mid-west region and as far away as China, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan and Columbia, South America.  Conductor, Christopher Kelts is in his 3rd year as Director of Orchestral Studies.  Concurrently he is Music Director and Conductor of the Kinnor Philharmonic Orchestra, Kansas City Civic Orchestra and artistic partner with Project Musica.  Rain Worthington, American composer, has had a wonderful relationship with the Missouri State University Symphony with this première of Tracing A Dream and a very recent world première of her work In Passages for solo violin & string orchestra.


SPECIAL PRIZE: Championing the Music of Ernst Bacon: 
Thomas Dickey, conductor
Oklahoma State University Symphony Orchestra
Stillwater OK  

music by Bacon (Nantucket Fling), Copland (Our Town), Hanson (Symphony No. 2)

Oklahoma State University Symphony Orchestra
The OSU Symphony Orchestra is one of the School of Visual & Performing Arts’ premier performing ensembles, showcasing some of the university’s finest players performing traditional orchestral repertoire in a series of dynamic concerts.  In addition to approximately five annual performances, the OSUSO also provides music for the Opera Theater’s fully staged productions and serves as the lab orchestra for various academic classes, from composition to orchestral conducting.  The OSUSO is dedicated to the study and performance of significant orchestral music, and to that end often collaborates with faculty and guest soloists in performances of major concerto literature.  In 2013, the OSUSO was a finalist in The American Prize in Orchestral Performance Competition and performed at the College Orchestra Directors Association National Conference in Cleveland, Ohio and the Oklahoma Music Education Association Conference in Tulsa.
Thomas Dickey
Dr. Thomas Dickey is the Director of Orchestral Studies at Oklahoma State University, where he conducts the OSU Symphony Orchestra and guides all aspects of the orchestra and orchestral conducting programs.  He concurrently serves as Music Director & Conductor of the OSU Youth Orchestra and the Stillwater Community Orchestra.  Prior to his appointments in Oklahoma, he was the Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and Music Director & Conductor of the Dubuque Symphony Youth Orchestra (IA).

He holds doctoral and master's degrees in orchestral conducting from the University of Georgia and Louisiana State University, respectively, and graduated with highest honors from Eastern Illinois University. He has worked with conductors such as Carl Topilow, Christopher Zimmerman, Daniel Lewis, Gustav Meier, and Diane Wittry, and further studied conducting at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and numerous workshops and master classes.

The American Prize winner:
Lynda Hasseler, conductor
Capital University Chapel Choir and Choral Union
Columbus OH
the music of Jake Runestad

Capital University Chapel Choir and Choral Union
Since 1929, the Capital University Chapel Choir has upheld the rich Lutheran heritage of fine choral singing and enjoys national and international acclaim as a premier collegiate choral ensemble.The Capital University Choral Union is one of the premier volunteer choirs in central Ohio, distinguished by its keen musicianship and challenging repertoire.
Lynda Hasseler
Lynda Hasseler, D.M.A. is Professor of Music, Director of Choral Activities, and acting Head of the Voice Area in the Conservatory of Music at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, where she directs the Chapel Choir, Choral Union, and vocal chamber ensemble, Philomel; and teaches choral methods and conducting. Nurturing Capital University’s rich choral legacy, the choirs under her direction have received numerous invitations to perform for multiple music regional and national conferences and festivals, have been awarded gold medals in world choral competitions and have toured nationally and internationally.
Jake Runestad
Jake Runestad is an award-winning and frequently-performed composer of “highly imaginative” (Baltimore Sun) and “stirring and uplifting” (Miami Herald) musical works. He has received commissions and performances from leading ensembles around the world. Jake’s visceral music and charismatic personality have fostered a busy schedule of commissions, residencies, workshops, and speaking engagements, enabling him to be one of the youngest full-time composers in the world. Jake Runestad holds a Master’s degree in composition from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University where he studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts. Has has also studied extensively with acclaimed composer Libby Larsen. A native of Rockford, IL, Mr. Runestad is currently based in Minneapolis, MN and his music is published by JR Music.

Second Place (there was a tie):
Stephen Heyde, conductor 
Baylor Symphony Orchestra
Waco TX
Barber—Tocatta Festiva, op. 36
Stucky—Son et Lumiere

Baylor Symphony Orchestra
The Baylor Symphony has an extensive performance schedule, annually presenting six concerts of standard orchestral repertoire, a full opera production, concerto accompaniments, new music readings, choral/orchestral collaborations and a series of children's concerts reaching an audience of over 6000 area schoolchildren.

The featured piece in this application is Son et lumièr by Pulitzer award winning composer Steven Stucky, a Baylor alumnus who passed away February 14, 2016. Other pieces submitted include 2016-17 performances of the Kevin Puts Symphony #2 and the Samuel Barber Tocatta festiva and an earlier Baylor Symphony performance of Christopher Theofanidis’ Rainbow Body.

The Symphony has appeared at the Texas Music Educators Convention eight times,  performed a 2003 PBS Special, “Christmas at Baylor” seen by six million viewers, performed at Piccolo Spoleto Festival and at a national convention of the American String Teachers Association. The Baylor Symphony has collaborated with many distinguished American performers including Van Cliburn, Joseph Gingold, Robert Shaw, Corey Cerovsek, Jacob Druckman, Lorin Hollander, Roberto Diaz, Andrew Balio and Peter Schickele among others. The BSO has taken international tours of Costa Rica (2004) and Belgium (2010) and has won the prestigious American Prize for four consecutive years since 2015. Former members of the BSO have won positions in many professional orchestras including New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Cincinnati and Fort Worth among others.

Second Place (there was a tie):
Chris Younghoon Kim, conductor
Cornell Orchestra 

Richard Faria, clarinet
Ithaca NY
Clarinet Concerto—Joan Tower   

Chris Younghoon Kim
Cornell Symphony 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.
Joan Tower  
Joan Tower is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today. During a career spanning more than fifty years, she has made lasting contributions to musical life in the United States as composer, performer, conductor, and educator. Her works have been commissioned by major ensembles, soloists, and orchestras, including the Emerson, Tokyo, and Muir quartets; soloists Evelyn Glennie, Carol Wincenc, David Shifrin, and John Browning; and the orchestras of Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC among others. Tower was the first composer chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission of sixty-five orchestras. Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony recorded Made in America in 2008 (along with Tambor and Concerto for Orchestra). The album collected three Grammy awards: Best Contemporary Classical Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance. Nashville’s latest all-Tower recording includes Stroke, which received a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. In 1990 she became the first woman to win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Silver Ladders, a piece she wrote for the St. Louis Symphony where she was Composer-in-Residence from 1985-88. Other residencies with orchestras include a 10-year residency with the Orchestra of St. Luke's (1997-2007) and the Pittsburgh Symphony (2010-2011). She was the Albany Symphony’s Mentor Composer partner in the 2013-14 season. Tower was cofounder and pianist for the Naumburg Award winning Da Capo Chamber Players from 1970-1985.
Richard Faria
Clarinetist Richard Faria pursues an active career as soloist, chamber musician, and educator. He has been a participant in numerous festivals such as the Bennington Chamber Music Conference, Bard Music Festival of the Hamptons, Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, Skaneateles Festival, Garth Newel Music Festival, and Klasik Keyifler in Cappadocia, Turkey. His chamber music experience includes collaborations with such diverse groups as the Zephyros and Sylvan Wind Quintets, Atlantic, Tetraktys, and Arianna String Quartets, Composers Concordance, Guild Trio, Mother Mallard, and the Young Composer’s Collective in Seattle. He has performed in Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, The Kitchen, Miller Theater, Spivey Hall, the Smithsonian Institution, as well as at the American Academies in Rome and Berlin, Netherlands' De Lakenhal, and the Temple of Apollo in Turkey.

Third Place:
David Hahn, conductor  
Eastman Repertory Singers
Rochester NY   
Fern Hill—John Corigliano

Eastman Repertory Singers
The Eastman Repertory Singers is a mixed 60-voice chorus of Eastman students presenting frequent performances under the direction of graduate students in conducting, in styles ranging from Renaissance madrigals and motets to premieres of contemporary choral works. Recent concerts have included the Haydn Lord Nelson Mass, the Duruflé Requiem, and works of Rachmaninoff, Mozart and Bach. This chorus includes students in vocal performance, conducting, piano, organ, composition, and music education.

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Catherine Sailer, conductor
University of Denver Lamont Chorale
Denver CO
music by Averitt, Takach, Lampi, more

University of Denver Lamont Chorale
The University of Denver Lamont Chorale is the premier choir at the University of Denver, and includes music majors and non-music majors from across the school.  The choir passionately pursues artistic excellence in choral performance and sings diverse repertoire.  Through the Chorale's dedication to performing music of living composers, it has enjoyed collaborations with Tan Dun, Morten Lauridsen, Eric Whitacre, Tim Takach, Ken Lampl,  and many more established and emerging composers and conductors.  The Lamont Chorale has performed for the Colorado Music Educator's Association Conference, and the Regional conference of the American Choral Director's Association.

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Chris David Westover, conductor
Denison University New Music Ensemble
Granville OH  
Bassoon Concertino—Augusta Read Thomas

Denison University New Music Ensemble
Chris David Westover, D.M.A., is Assistant Professor of Music and conductor of the Wind Ensemble at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Westover led wind ensembles, orchestras and operatic performances at Bethel College, the University of Oklahoma and the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU. He is in constant demand as a conductor and has led bands and orchestras in the US and China. His research focuses on the historical sources of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Most recently he presented his scholarship as a guest speaker at the 2016 International Conference on Creativity and Performance at Hong Kong Baptist University.
Chris David Westover
His career spans operatic performances including Falstaff, Don Giovanni, and Iphigenie en Tauride, as well as educational work with young singers and orchestras. Westover commands a broad and diverse repertoire including the core symphonic repertoire and the contemporary repertoire of the symphony orchestra and wind ensemble. He has served as a staff conductor for the TUTTI Festival and the 4x4 Prizes. He has commissioned and premiered works by Brad Baumgardner, Andrew McManus, Michael Kallstrom, David Sterrett and Dan Lazerescou.

In February 2010, Westover led the critically acclaimed Dallas premiere of Daniel Roumain’s “Darwin’s Meditation for the People of Lincoln” during the inaugural season of the renowned Winspear Opera House. The Dallas Morning News said the performance “often shift[ed] between majesty and melancholy, [and] was as powerful an emotional exploration as a historical one.” Westover’s conducting mentors include Jonathan Shames, John Carmichael, Jack Delaney, and Eric Smedley.

The American Prize ERNST BACON MEMORIAL AWARD for the PERFORMANCE of AMERICAN MUSIC, COMMUNITY ensemble division, 2017-18

The American Prize winner:
Christine Jarquio Nichols, conductor
Vox Nova
Columbia MO
music by Lowell Liebermann, William Billings, Moira Smiley, more

Vox Nova
Vox Nova (founded 2014), a vocal chamber group based in Columbia, Missouri, brings friendship and teamwork to its sound. The musicians in the ensemble are established music educators, conductors, and professional vocalists. The members currently come from Columbia, MO, Kansas City, Lawrence, KS, Chicago, Baton Rouge, Colorado, New York City, and Seattle. Many of the members perform with other professional choirs, prominent music festivals, and chamber opera companies, both locally and across the United States. Vox Nova is committed to choral excellence and to spreading choral music to listening audiences. Vox Nova regularly collaborates with native Columbia chamber ensembles and composers. They have been guest artists for the Odyssey Chamber Music Series, the Idaho International Choral Festival, the True/False Film Festival, and MMEA. In 2015, they were selected as national semifinalists in the professional division of The American Prize in Choral Performance, and were 2016 semifinalists in the professional division of The American Prize in Chamber Ensemble Performance. They are the 2017-2018 Ensemble-in-Residence for the Odyssey Chamber Music Series.

Second Place (there was a tie):
Libi Lebel, conductor
Texas Medical Center Orchestra
Houston TX
Appalachian Spring—Copland  

Libi Lebel
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.”  

Second Place (there was a tie):
Walter Morales, conductor
Edgewood Symphony Orchestra
Pittsburgh PA  
Porgy & Bess Symphonic Picture— Gershwin/Bennett
Barber—Adagio for Strings
Copland—Lincoln Portrait

Walter Morales
Walter Morales is the Music Director of the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra. His previous positions include Music Director of Undercroft Opera, Music Director of the Carnegie Mellon University Contemporary Ensemble, Head of Music of Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic, Assistant Director of Orchestral Studies at Carnegie Mellon University and Assistant Conductor of the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic. He has been a guest conductor with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, Butler County Symphony Orchestra, McKeesport Symphony Orchestra, University of Costa Rica Symphony Orchestra, University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Duquesne University Opera & Orchestra, Pittsburgh Youth Chamber Orchestra and Rutgers Chamber Orchestra.  He has also served as cover conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. For more information please visit:
Edgewood Symphony Orchestra
The Edgewood Symphony Orchestra, a not-for-profit organization, strives to be the best volunteer symphony orchestra in the region while providing cultural experiences to our members and community through challenging symphonic music. The ESO is committed to valuing its members and providing them with the opportunity to improve their technical and musical skills and share their passion through high quality performances and educational outreach.

Third Place:
William P. Gorton, conductor and composer
Members of Philadelphia Orchestra & friends
NJ Master Chorale, Philadelphia Boys Choir
Haddonfield NJ  
Gorton—Te Deum

William P. Gorton
William Gorton is Assistant Professor of Voice and Opera at Millikin University in Decatur, IL, where he teaches studio voice, and serves as coach and conductor for the opera program. Dr. Gorton has had a diverse career as singer, voice teacher, composer, and conductor. The Founding Artistic Director of the Central Virginia Masterworks Chorale, he has also served as Assistant Chorus Master for the Phoenix Symphony Chorus. Dr. Gorton acquired his DMA in Choral Conducting at Arizona State University, where he directed the Early Music Chamber Choir, Women’s Chorus, and served as Assistant Conductor of the Symphonic Chorale, Choral Union, and Concert Choir. His hymn, “O God in Whom We Live,” can be found in Worship and Song, a United Methodist hymnal, and his anthem, “The Lord is My Shepherd,” can be found at World Library Publications. William also serves as Director of Music Ministries at FCC in Bloomington, IL.

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Donald L. Appert, conductor and composer
Oregon Sinfonietta
Vancouver WA
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra—Appert

Oregon Sinfonietta
Donald L. Appert
Donald Appert been Music Director/Conductor of the Clark College Orchestra since 1990. He has guest-conducted orchestras in Europe, Central America, Japan and Australia. Currently he is a Full Professor of Music and Head of the Music Department at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. In addition, he is the Music Director/Conductor of the Oregon Sinfonietta and of the Jewish Community Orchestra, both in Portland, Oregon.  He received The American Prize in Orchestral Programming—Vytautas Marijosius  Memorial Award in 2011 for his work with the Oregon Sinfonietta, an Honorable Mention in 2012, 3rd Place in 2014, and 2nd Place in 2015. He was also Honored Artist of the American Prize in 2015. In 2014, he received the Clark County (WA) Arts Commission Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award.  He has received the ASCAPLUS Award numerous times and orchestras in Europe, Central America, Japan, Australia, and the United States have performed his works.  Jeffrey Butler of the Houston Symphony (who commissioned the work) will premiere his latest composition, Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, with the Clark College Orchestra in June of 2018. Videos of his conducting and his original compositions may be seen and heard via the Internet on his web site at

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Thomas Rainey, conductor
Williamson County Symphony Orchestra
Round Rock TX
Gershwin & All That Jazz    

Williamson County Symphony Orchestra
The Williamson County Symphony Orchestra is completing its 15th season.  The 100-member Orchestra is staffed entirely by volunteer musicians and run by volunteer administrators. Most of the musicians are adults working in other professions but who have a great love of music and have performed at high levels earlier in their life.  The musicians consider their efforts as a ministry to the community.

The Orchestra performs FREE "pops-styled" concerts often highlighting American composers in the classical, movie/TV, and contemporary genre and new compositions from our Composer-in-Resident, Dr ML Daniels.  The FREE concerts are pitched toward families, seniors, and people who do not yet know they like great music.  The Orchestra, directed by Dr Thomas Rainey, performs a two-concert series four times a year - Fall, Christmas, Spring, & Outdoor - at venues across Williamson County plus one FREE concert for the troops and their families at Ft Hood.

The Orchestra's March 2016 concert series was devoted to that most American form of music - jazz. The theme Gershwin and All That Jazz  had numerous samples of George Gershwin's "classical" music along with the great music of Duke Ellington and some of Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong's top hits.  One could hear the influence of Jazz in the selection of movie music by Henry Mancini.  The Orchestra's focus was to demonstrate how "classical" the jazz idiom has become.

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Douglas Anderson, conductor
The Putnam Chorale
Carmel NY
Casey at the Bat—William Schuman

The Putnam Chorale
The Putnam Chorale, under the artistic direction of composer/conductor Dr. Douglas Anderson, is the sole community chorus in Putnam County, NY. Founded 1984, the Chorale has been providing high quality choral and orchestral music and academic commentary ever since. The two-fold mission of the Chorale is to provide amateur and aspiring professional singers an opportunity to enrich their lives through choral singing and to provide the community with compelling performance experiences unrivaled outside of major city venues. Chorale choristers come from Putnam, Westchester, and Dutchess counties and nearby Connecticut.  Music Director Douglas Anderson, currently a Professor of Music on the faculty of Borough of Manhattan Community College, is a conductor, composer, educator, and producer who has been active in the New York music scene for over 40 years.  He founded the American Chamber Opera Company in 1984 and conducts the Downtown Symphony in New York City.

The American Prize ERNST BACON MEMORIAL AWARD for the PERFORMANCE of AMERICAN MUSIC, YOUTH & HIGH SCHOOL ensemble division, 2017-18

The American Prize winner:
Robert Truan, conductor
Decatur HS Wind Ensemble
Decatur GA  
American Salute—Gould

Decatur HS Wind Ensemble
This is Robert Truan’s third year as Director of Bands for Decatur High School where he teaches Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, IB Music, and other chamber ensembles.  While at Decatur, his ensembles have won a Grand Championship at the Southern Invitational Music Festival, have performed at the Georgia Music Educator’s Association Convention twice, and have performed at the Cork School of Music in Ireland.  His ensembles have also received straight superior ratings at Large Group Performance Evaluation.  This is the second year Decatur has differentiated its band classes in two groups: Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band.  After Wind Ensemble’s inaugural year, our recorded submission was selected to headline Music for All’s Southeastern Regional Concert Band Festival. Robert Truan is heavily influenced by his wonderful mentors throughout the years: Reid Hall, Richard Brasco, Dr. Tony McCutchen, John Culvahouse, Dr. John P. Lynch, Dr. Laura Moates Stanley, and Jack Jean.  Mr. Truan graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Georgia and has a Master’s degree in Music Education.

Second Place:
Michael Isadore, conductor
Dulles HS Honors Orchestra  
Sugar Land TX
Visions and Miracles—Theofanidis
Autumn Rhapsody—Jalbert

Dulles HS Honors Orchestra 
Located in Sugar Land, TX, The John Foster Dulles Orchestra program is one of the largest orchestra programs in Fort Bend ISD and one of the premiere orchestra programs in the state of Texas.  Located in Sugar Land, a southwest suburb of Houston, Fort Bend County and Dulles High School are among the most diverse schools in America. The orchestra program in Fort Bend ISD began in 1990 and Dulles High School has only had two orchestra directors.  Michael Isadore became the director of orchestras in 1999 and today the program boasts over 170 members.  The Dulles Orchestra has been consistently awarded the Mark of Excellence National Honor Orchestra Award and Commended Award in the string and full orchestra categories, been runner up for TMEA Honor Orchestra and has performed at the Midwest Clinic in 2004 and 2016.

Third Place:
Carolyn Watson, conductor
Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra
Interlochen MI
The Improvised Violin Concerto—Mark Williams 

Carolyn Watson
A major prizewinner at the 2012 Emmerich Kálmán International Operetta Conducting Competition in Budapest, Carolyn Watson was also a Fellow of the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival where she studied with David Zinman. She has conducted throughout Europe with orchestras including Staatsoper Berlin, Brandenburger Symphonkier, BBC Concert Orchestra, North Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Kodály Philharmonic, Savaria Symphony Orchestra (Hungary), Budapest Operetta Theatre, and Bulgarian State Opera Bourgas. In 2016 Carolyn was one of ten conductors selected for the elite Dallas Opera Institute for Women Conductors and has participated in master classes with Marin Alsop, Peter Eötvös, Yoel Levi, Martyn Brabbins and Alex Polishchuk.

Carolyn conducted musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic in Interaktion 2010, was resident assistant at the Israeli National Opera in 2009 and has worked with conductors including Sir Charles Mackerras, Simone Young and Karen Kamensek. She is the recipient of the Brian Stacey Award for Emerging Australian Conductors, Charles Mackerras Conducting Prize awarded by the Australian Music Foundation in London, Nelly Apt Scholarship and Opera Foundation Australia’s Bayreuth Opera Award and Berlin New Music Opera Award. Carolyn 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.

An enthusiastic music educator, Carolyn is currently Director of Orchestral Studies at Texas State University and enjoys an active freelance career throughout the US, Europe and Australia. From 2013-15 she held the prestigious position of Conductor of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, having also conducted the World Youth Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra since moving to the US in 2013.



ERNST BACON AWARD (American Music Performance): solo artist division, 2017-18

Ernst Bacon
The American Prize is honored to announce WINNERS, runners-up, citation recipients and honorable mentions of the ERNST BACON MEMORIAL AWARD for the PERFORMANCE of AMERICAN MUSIC, 2017-18, in solo artist divisions. Congratulations!

(Ensemble division winners of the Bacon Award are posted separately.)

Among the many contests of The American Prize, the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music is unique. It recognizes and rewards the best performances of American music by ensembles and individual artists worldwide, based on submitted recordings. Applications are accepted from professional, college/university, community and high school age solo artists, chamber ensembles and conducted ensembles, competing in separate divisions, and from composers with excellent recordings of their works. Beginning in 2017-18, categories were expanded to encompass performances of American music in practically any instrumentation or genre, with very few repertoire restrictions.

Focused exclusively on works by American composers from any period and in any style, the contest not only judges performances, but in the case of new or unfamiliar works, the music itself.

Ernst Bacon (1898—1990) was one of that pioneering generation of composers who, along with Thomson, Copland, Harris, and others, found a voice for American music. Winner of a Pulitzer Scholarship (for his Symphony in D minor) and no fewer than three Guggenheim Fellowships, Ernst Bacon set out to create compositions that expressed the vitality and affirmative spirit of our country. It is fitting, and with honor, that The American Prize created an annual award in the memory of Ernst Bacon, recognizing the finest performances of American music worldwide. To learn more about the music & legacy of Ernst Bacon, please visit the website of the Ernst Bacon Society.

Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email:

The American Prize ERNST BACON MEMORIAL AWARD for the PERFORMANCE of AMERICAN MUSIC, PROFESSIONAL solo artist division, 2017-18

The American Prize winner:
Ann Maire Wilcox-Daehn, soprano, 
and Elizabeth Avery, piano
Springfield MO
The Forgotten Songs of Sergius Kagen 

Ann Maire Wilcox-Daehn
Mezzo soprano Ann Marie Wilcox-Daehn thrives on a performing career that includes oratorio, opera, art song, and musical theater. A frequent oratorio soloist, she has appeared at Carnegie Hall in the Mozart Requiem, Haydn’s Creation Mass, and Vivaldi’s Gloria. Of the over 35 roles to her credit, favorites include Carmen; Dorabella in Cosí fan Tutte; Isabella in The Italian Girl from Algiers; Angelina/Cinderella in La Cenerentola; Aldonza in Man of la Mancha; Petra in A Little Night Music; and she created the role of Rosemary for the world premiere of Libby Larsen’s jazz opera, Picnic. Ann Marie can be heard on the Albany Record label as Adah in Naughty Marietta, Bertha in The Red Mill, and singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” on Gold & Silver: Celebrating 25 Years of Ohio Light Opera. She is passionate about the music of living composers and performs recitals regionally and around the world; most recently in Italy and China. Dr. Daehn hold degrees from Miami University (BME, Oxford), UNC-Greensboro (MM), and a doctorate in voice performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music. Dr. Wilcox-Daehn is currently an Assistant Professor of Voice and directs the award-winning opera program at Missouri State University. She is also an active member of NOA, NATS, AGMA, and Actor’s Equity and a frequent lecturer on the operas and song of living composers. This research also coincides with another interest; the life, teaching, and voice of legendary mezzo soprano, Jan DeGaetani, about whom she is writing a book.  
Elizabeth Avery
Pianist Elizabeth Avery is increasingly in demand as both vocal coach and collaborative artist, and has been heard in performances throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. Dr. Avery currently serves on the opera faculty of the University of Oklahoma School of Music, coaching opera productions, teaching courses in lyric diction and coaching recital repertoire.

An advocate of the music of living composers, Avery has given world premiere performances on stages such as New York City’s Steinway Hall and Weill Recital Hall, and has premiered Italian operas with the International Opera Theater in Umbria and Piemonte. Other notable engagements have included the Eastman Opera Theater, Nashville Opera, and several summers as an official coach/pianist for the “Deutsch für Sänger” program at Middlebury College’s prestigious German Language School.  During recent summers, Dr. Avery has become established as a faculty coach at the Up North Vocal Institute, a unique young artist program that focuses not only on training the voice, but the mind and body as well.

Second Place (there was a tie):
Luke Cissell, composer and performer
New York NY
String Quintet—Luke Cissell 
Luke Cissell
Luke Cissell (b. Louisville, Kentucky) writes and records music in a distinctive style that is by turns arrestingly melodic, beguilingly layered, and eminently human, developed out of his roots as a young musician immersed in classical violin repertoire and the Appalachian mountain music of his native bluegrass. Cissell began playing music at a young age—he was a fiddling champion at the age of eight and performed Mozart’s third violin concerto on his first honors recital soon thereafter. His output includes five albums of original music, a chamber opera, a feature length film score, and assorted works for solo and mixed ensemble. He earned a degree in history from Princeton University before establishing himself as a professional musician and composer in New York City, cutting his teeth as a session musician for a wide variety of artists from Ingrid Michaelson to Philip Glass while performing at many of the city’s most revered cultural institutions including Carnegie Hall, CBGB, Radio City Music Hall, and Lincoln Center. Cissell is a 2016-17 Very Young Composers Teaching Artist with the New York Philharmonic. He produced a first recording of his recent String Quintet by performing each of the parts himself, carefully layering them one by one at the studio microphone.

Second Place (there was a tie):
Judith Lang Zaimont, composer,
and Elizabeth Moak, pianist
Hattiesburg MS
Sonata for Piano: Nocturne—La fin de siecle—Zaimont

Judith Lang Zaimont
The music of Judith Lang Zaimont (b. 1945) is internationally acclaimed for its immediacy, dynamism and emotion and is performed world-wide.   Her style is distinguished by its spirit of rhapsody featuring sudden shifts in texture, instrumental coloring, and atmosphere.  Her 123 works include many prize-winning pieces covering every genre:  Four symphonies, chamber opera, music for wind ensemble, for chorus and solo voice, and works for individual instruments plus a wide variety of chamber music. 
 Zaimont’s music is widely performed throughout the U.S. and Europe: Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore and Mississippi symphonies, Berlin and Czech Radio symphonies, Slovak National Philharmonic and the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra.  Two dozen CDs are currently available on Naxos, MSR Classics, Harmonia Mundi, Parma/Navona, Koch International Classics, Arkiv Music, Albany, Jeanné, Inc., and Leonarda. Recent all-Zaimont recordings include a 2010 CD of orchestra music (Kirk Trevor: Slovak National Philharmonic – Naxos. three world premieres), 2011 chamber music CD (Eternal Evolution. The Harlem Quartet and Awadagin Pratt – Navona.  three world premieres );  2012  piano solo CD  (Christopher Atzinger – Naxos);  a 2012  2-CD album surveying her solo piano music (Elizabeth Moak:  MSR Classics - Fifteen works, including three world premieres); and 2016 CD featuring Janacek Philharmonic's performance of PURE, COOL (Water) - Symphony No. 4 .
 Her numerous prizes and honors include the 2015 The American Prize for Chamber Music Composition, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, awards from both  National Endowments (NEA: composition  / NEH: scholarship), a 2005 Bush Foundation Fellowship and earlier American Pen Women Fellowship,  IAWM, CBDNA, Maryland,  and New York State arts fellowships, the Andrew G. Mellon Foundation (2007), and an Aaron Copland Award  (2003).
Elizabeth Moak
Noted for her “sensitivity” and “generous imagination” (La Suisse, Geneva, Switzerland), pianist Elizabeth Moak’s recent performances include Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Québec. Winner of the Mu Phi Epsilon International Competition and several national competitions including the National Federation of Music Clubs Biennial Auditions, Elizabeth has performed extensively in the United States and Europe. As soloist, she has also appeared on national television, radio, and with orchestras including the Orchestre de Chambre de Neuchâtel, the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, and the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra. In addition to honors for her solo playing, she has received awards for her collaborative work from the Music Academy of the West and Peabody Conservatory of Music of Johns Hopkins University (piano studies with Leon Fleisher, Ann Schein, and Julian Martin). Dr. Moak holds degrees from Peabody Conservatory and the Neuchâtel Conservatory ( Switzerland). For eight years Elizabeth served on the faculty of Millsaps College, where she was honored with the “Outstanding Young Faculty Award.” In 2004, Elizabeth joined the faculty of The University of Southern Mississippi.

Third Place:
William Popp, composer and accordion
Denver CO
music by Kleinsinger, Gart, Antonio

William Popp
William Popp began his studies on the piano at the age of six and on the accordion at the age of 11. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in performance from the University of Denver where he studied with Robert Davine. He earned his doctoral degree in composition from The Catholic University of America, in Washington, DC. His composition teachers include David Diamond (New York), Normand Lockwood (Denver), and Helmut Braunlich (Washington, DC). Many of his chamber ensemble and string orchestra works have been performed throughout the United States and Europe. For twenty years he was an arranger and composer with the United States Air Force Band in Washington, DC. More than 35 of his arrangements have been recorded by the USAF Strings and many more have been heard in numerous White House performances and around the world. As an accordionist he has performed extensively with the USAF Strings throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia; and as a soloist in Beijing, China. He has also performed with Young Audiences, Inc., members of the National Symphony, and members of the Colorado Symphony. William Popp is now working independently as a composer, performer, and teacher in Northern Colorado.

Finalist—Special Judges' Citation: 
"Championing American Piano Music"
Peter Seivewright, piano
Glasgow Scotland
Piano Sonatas  by Carter, Rozsa and MacDowell

Peter Seivewright
Peter Seivewright was born in Skipton, England, in 1954. He studied music at Oxford and spent three years as a post-graduate student at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, studying piano with Ryszard Bakst. As a student he was a frequent soloist with RNCM Orchestras, receiving particular Press  attention for his performance of Richard Rodney Bennett's Piano Concerto.

Peter Seivewright has appeared as Piano Concerto soloist with leading Orchestras and given recitals in major  Festivals and concert venues throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, Austria, Italy, Belgium, Denmark (eight recital tours), Latvia, Estonia, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Australia (four recital tours), China, India, Kuwait, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States of America, Russia, and the Donetsk People's Republic. Orchestras he has appeared as Piano Concerto soloist with include the Hallé Orchestra, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, the Scottish Baroque Soloists, Camerata Scotland, the Scottish Sinfonietta, the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, the Ho Chi Minh City Symphony Orchestra, the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the S.S.Prokofiev State Academic Symphony Orchestra in Donetsk. In March 2017 the S.S.Prokofiev State Academic Symphony Orchestra awarded Peter Seivewright the Distinguished Artist Citation, the highest award the Orchestra can bestow.

Peter Seivewright's CD discography is extensive, and includes the Complete Piano Music by Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) issued by Naxos, CDs for Merlin Classics and Rondo Records (Copenhagen), and numerous CDs issued by The Divine Art Recordings Group, for whom he now records exclusively. From 2008 to 2011 Peter Seivewright was the inaugural Professor of Music (Full Professor) at the Academy for the Performing Arts at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. He will spend the academic year 2017-2018 as Professor of Pianoforte Performance at the Phnom Penh International Institute of the Arts, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. His home is near Glasgow, Scotland.

Finalist—Honorable Mention
Christopher Nichols, clarinet
Newark DE  

Christopher Nichols
Christopher Nichols joined the faculty of the University of Delaware as Assistant Professor of Clarinet in 2013 where he instructs undergraduate and graduate applied clarinet, clarinet ensemble, chamber music, pedagogy and literature, and annually hosts Delaware Clarinet Day.

Dr. Nichols is a versatile clarinetist with performances as a soloist and in ensembles across the United States and abroad. He regularly performs with orchestras such as the Philharmonia of Greater Kansas City, the Pennsylvania Philharmonic, the Kennett Symphony and the Allentown Symphony Orchestra. He is a member of Christiana Winds and has recently collaborated with the acclaimed Serafin String Quartet, the Taggart-Grycky Duo, and members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He has served for over a decade in the Army Music Career program with performances throughout the United States, Germany, France and Austria.

Dr. Nichols has appeared as a featured soloist at conferences of the International Clarinet Association, European Clarinet Association, and College Music Society. His live performances have been selected for inclusion in the Audio Performance Archive of College Music Symposium and broadcast on Kansas and Michigan Public Radio. In 2015, Dr. Nichols work as a solo recitalist was recognized with an Established Artist Fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts.

As a Légère Reeds Endorsing Artist and a Buffet Artist Clinician, Dr. Nichols performs exclusively on Légère Signature Series reeds and Buffet clarinets. Additional information is available at his personal website

Finalist—Honorable Mention
Soprani Compagni 
Lisa Dawson and Tammie Huntington, sopranos, 
Phoenix Park-Kim, pianist
Marion IN  
“Portraits of Women”

—music by David Horace Davies, Robert Denham, Lenna Kirchoff
Lisa Dawson and Tammie Huntington, sopranos, Phoenix Park-Kim, pianist
Lisa Dawson and Tammie Huntington, Sopranos, first began collaborating on the opera stage of Ball State University when they were cast as Suor Angelica and Suor Genovieffa in the opera by Puccini during their graduate studies.  After working together as graduate assistants in the Ball State University Opera Theatre, they each joined the faculty of Indiana Wesleyan University in different years, becoming colleagues in voice and opera in the School of Arts and Humanities, Division of Music.  Delighted with the way their differing personalities and voices complement and highlight each other, Dawson and Huntington, together with pianist Phoenix Park-Kim, formed the group Soprani Compagni for the express purpose of researching, compiling and performing soprano art song duets, oratorio and opera scenes; modeling soprano collaboration; and commissioning new works for soprano duet.  Phoenix Park-Kim has performed throughout the U.S., South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Italy, Switzerland, Argentina and Russia in solo, orchestral, and chamber music settings.  Soprani Compagni had their Carnegie Hall debut at Weill Recital Hall in March of 2012.  Through a generous grant from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities in 2015, Soprani Compagni has commissioned twelve new works, themed around Portraits of Women which they recently presented in a tour of South Korea, Hong Kong, and inland China.  Soprani Compagni will be touring various venues around the United States during 2016-2017 with their newly released recording and anthology.  Follow us at:; and on Facebook at:


The American Prize winner:
Corinne Rydman, soprano
San Francisco CA  
The Art Songs by Florence Price

Corinne Rydman
A singer “with polish and charm,” Corinne Rydman appeared as Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2016 under Director of Opera, Jose Maria Condemi. Other roles include Nerone (L’incoronazione di Poppea), Dido (Dido and Aeneas), Lucilla (La scala di seta), and Haydn’s Volpino (Lo speziale). She was featured as a soloist by the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society in their 2015 symposium on historical performance and made her orchestral debut singing arrangements of Lutoslawski’s Twenty Polish Carols with Utah Chamber Artists.

Through her devotion to social justice, Corinne fell in musical love with the forgotten African-American pioneer Florence Price, premiering some of her songs never before previously published. Corinne also performs musical theater such as the roles of Liliane La Fleur (Nine), Woman 2 (Closer Than Ever), Weathergirl (As Thousands Cheer), and Mrs. Prysselius (Pippi Longstocking). Her next projects are two productions with the Bay Area’s Opera Theater Unlimited — the 48-Hour Festival and a world-premiere composed by Joseph M. Colombo with libretto by Caitlin Mullan.

Second Place:
Jennifer Bellor, composer
UNLV Wind Orchestra
Las Vegas NV
Bordello Nights—Jennifer Bellor  

Jennifer Bellor
Jennifer Bellor is a versatile composer whose works have been presented by Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center, American Composers Orchestra JCOI Readings, Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra, Las Vegas Philharmonic, UNLV Wind Orchestra, ShoutHouse, Florida State University Festival of New Music, Eastman New Jazz Ensemble, Ritsos Project, Elevate Ensemble, HOCKET, and many others in the US and abroad. Bellor’s music draws on a variety of influences, evidenced in her debut album “Stay,” which is a melting pot of different music styles largely based on poetry. Stay was featured on NewMusicBox’s 2016 Staff picks, and was praised as having the ability to “maintain a highly individual identity without needing to take refuge in pre-post-genre musical silos.” In addition to Stay, Bellor’s self-released EP Songs in the Dark, jazz single Midnight Swim and most recent single O Soothest Sleep have been digitally released and available on iTunes, Amazon Spotify, among others. Bellor also has received awards for her jazz/cross genre compositions Midnight Swim (DownBeat) Noir (SWOJO), and Chase the Stars (The American Prize). Bellor holds a PhD in music composition at Eastman School of Music, a Master of Music degree in composition at Syracuse University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music at Cornell University. Her primary composition teachers included David Liptak, Bob Morris, Andrew Waggoner, Sally Lamb-McCune, and Steven Stucky. For more information, please visit
UNLV Wind Orchestra
Bordello Nights features the UNLV Wind Orchestra under the direction of Thomas Leslie featuring jazz guest performers: Eric Marienthal, Colin Gordon, Mitch Forman, Kevin Axt, and Bernie Dresel. The UNLV Wind Orchestra has received international acclaim for its fresh and creative approach to music making. Performing contemporary repertoire in addition to classical masterworks, the Wind Orchestra at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas has been responsible for commissioning and premiering numerous significant new works by America’s finest young contemporary composers including: Eric Whitacre, Wendell Yuponce, Jonathon Newman, Steven Bryant, Jim Bonney, Corey Hirsch, Paul Seitz, Nathan Tanouye, Jennifer Bellor, Kenneth Froelich and Wataru Hokoyama. In addition, the Wind Orchestra has recently commissioned and premiered new compositions by landmark American contemporary composers: Bruce Broughton, Roger Nixon and James Barnes.

Third Place (there was a tie):
Natalie Dietterich, composer
Yale Camerata
New Haven CT
conversations with strangers—Natalie Dietterich   

Natalie Dietterich
Natalie is an American composer and vocalist from Harleysville, Pennsylvania. Her music has been performed by wild Up as part of the LA Philharmonic’s National Composers Intensive, at the So Percussion Summer Institute, the 21st Annual Young Composers Meeting (Apeldoorn, the Netherlands), Spectrum, on Q2 music, the highSCORE Festival (Pavia, Italy), and most recently as a fellow at the Bang on a Can Summer Institute. She is the recipient of the 2016 Leo Kaplan prize of the Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, and has been a finalist for the Minnesota Composer Orchestra and New York Youth Symphony First Music Awards, and awards from BMI, ASCAP, and The American Prize, as well as a nominee for the Academy of Arts and Letters. She has recently been commissioned by flute/cello duo Martha Cargo and Ben Larsen, Echo Chamber, and the Shanghai Symphony. Natalie is a graduate of the Yale School of Music, with both an M.M. and M.M.A. in composition. She holds a dual degree in composition and violin performance from West Chester University, where she ran the NOW Music Society new music concert series, coordinated Danza Symbiotica (a composer/choreographer collaboration), and was a member of the West Chester Laptop Ensemble. Her previous composition teachers include David Lang, Chris Theofanidis, Martin Bresnick, Robert Maggio, Larry Nelson, Mark Rimple, Adam Silverman, and Van Stiefel.

Third Place (there was a tie):
Vaibhav Mohanty, composer, 
and Jake Tilton, saxophone
Cambridge MA
Rhapsody No. 1 for Alto Saxophone and Piano

—Vaibhav Mohanty   
Vaibhav Mohanty
Vaibhav Mohanty (b. 1998) is a composer, arranger, and pianist from Charleston, South Carolina currently studying at Harvard University. His compositions span classical, world, and jazz domains and are performed across the United States and internationally. Vaibhav’s works have have received many awards and accolades, including the Grand Prize from the Sul Ross State University Wind Ensemble Composition Competition, an international contest, and second place in The American Prize for Concert Band Composition. In 2014, Vaibhav was named a winner of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Student Composers Competition, meriting his piece a performance at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee by the NAfME All-National Honor Band. In the 2015 National YoungArts Foundation competition, he was named a Finalist, an award given only to the top two composers that year. Vaibhav is also a four-time awardee in the National Parent Teachers Association Reflections Contest, a finalist in the Music Teachers National Association Composition Competition, and honorable mention recipient from the Morton Gould Young Composer Awards. Vaibhav has been a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) since 2013 and the Society of Composers, Inc. (SCI) since 2014. His works are published by JPM Music Publications (Missouri) and Lighthouse Music Publications (Ontario, Canada). In the past, Vaibhav has taught music at the Charleston County School District summer arts program and at a private music studio in Charleston. He is currently Co-President of the Harvard Composers Association.
Jake Tilton
Jake Tilton is a saxophonist/clarinetist, teacher, and composer from Connecticut, currently in the class of 2019 at Harvard College. Jake has studied with a wide variety of teachers for saxophone and composition, and currently studies saxophone with Ken Radnofsky. Jake has been active in many Harvard groups, including a saxophone quartet, Wind Ensemble, Hasty Pudding Band, and Monday Jazz Band (led by Yosvany Terry). Jake has been featured in masterclasses and onstage at Harvard with Esperanza Spalding, Rufus Reid, George Cables, Dena DeRose, Tia Fuller, Noah Preminger, and Cassandra Wilson. Jake is also active as a composer/arranger, orchestrating the Harvard Freshman Musical and composing for the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club’s production of Peer Gynt. Jake also gave the Boston-area premiere of John Adams’s Saxophone Concerto in February 2017 with the HRO, as the youngest saxophonist to play this piece with orchestra. This performance was described as "...awe-inspiring in musicality and endurance" by The Harvard Crimson. He also recently performed John Williams’s “Escapades” with the Harvard Pops Orchestra. Before Harvard, Jake was lead alto sax in the Canton High School Jazz Ensemble, which opened for the United States Air Force Academy Falconaires, Ernie Watts, Dave Samuels, Eddie Palmieri, and the West Point Jazz Knights. He also performed with the Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors, and has substantial experience performing in pit ensembles. He also performed in state and national-level ensembles, including the 2014 NAfME All-National Honor Concert Band.