Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The AMERICAN PRIZE welcomes applicants


    Cash prizes, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition will be awarded to the first winners of The American Prize, a series of new, national non-profit performing arts competitions now accepting applications.

    Orchestras and choruses at the professional, college/university, church, community and secondary school levels, as well as their conductors, are eligible to apply by submitting recordings of their performances. The postmark deadline for the first round of The American Prize is March 1, 2010. Winners will be announced in May. Complete information, including competition guidelines and application forms, is available on The American Prize website

    The American Prize was founded from the belief that a great deal of excellent music being made in this country goes unrecognized and unheralded, not only in our major cities, but all across the country: in schools and churches, in colleges and universities, and by community and professional musicians.

    With the performing arts in America now virtually ignored by the national news media, The American Prize seeks to fill the gap that leaves many excellent artists and ensembles struggling for visibility and viability. The American Prize will recognize and reward the best America produces, without bias against small city versus large, or unknown artist versus well-known.

    David Katz is the chief judge of The American Prize. Professional conductor, award-winning composer, playwright, actor and arts advocate, Katz was the founder and for twelve years chief judge of the Friedrich Schorr Memorial Performance Prize in Voice international competition.

    “Most artists will never win a Grammy award, or a Pulitzer, or a Tony, or ever even be nominated,” Katz said, “but that does not mean that they are not worthy of recognition and reward. Quality in the arts is not limited to the coasts, or to the familiar names, or only to graduates of the most famous schools. It is on view all over the United States, if you take the time to look for it. The American Prize exists to encourage and herald that excellence.”

    The American Prize avoids bias through its unique structure. “People sometimes ask how a community symphony can possibly compete with a professional orchestra. They don’t. Non-professional orchestras have their own category, as do professionals, faith based and school ensembles,” Katz said. Within each category, The American Prize takes into account the size of the ensemble and the community it's from. Judges of The American Prize are charged to recognize and reward quality wherever it is found: whether it is an extraordinary performance by a community orchestra in a tiny Midwestern town, or a remarkable church, college or high school choir in the South, East or Far West.

    “Any musician worthy of the name knows excellence when he hears it, regardless of its pedigree,” Katz said, “The American Prize will tell you about it.”

    Joining Katz in selecting winners of The American Prize is a panel of judges as varied in background and experience and as geographically diverse as Katz hopes the winners of The American Prize to be. Made up of distinguished musicians representing eleven states from every region of the country, the group includes choral and orchestral conductors of professional, school, community and faith-based ensembles, tenured professors and orchestra and choral musicians.

    Application fees for The American Prize are $35 for individuals, $65 for ensembles, far less than the costs associated with traveling to adjudicated music festivals. Financial awards range from $100 to $500 or more, depending on the category and the number of applicants. In addition to cash prizes and commentary from judges, winners will be profiled on The American Prize website, with video and audio links to winning performances.

    “Winning prize money is good, of course,” Katz said, “but the rewards of The American Prize are more than financial. By shining a light on nationally recognized achievement, winners of The American Prize get world-class bragging rights to use in promotion right at home. If The American Prize builds local pride, or helps increase the audience, or grows the donor base, or stimulates recruitment for winning ensembles and their conductors, then we have fulfilled our mission.”

    The American Prize is administered by Hat City Music Theater, Inc., a non-profit performing arts organization based in Danbury, Connecticut. Complete information, including competition guidelines, application forms and judges’ bios may be found on the website: www.theamericanprize.org.


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