Monday, February 22, 2010

A COMPETITION for the rest of us

Most of us will probably never win a Grammy Award, or a Pulitzer, a Tony or an Academy Award, or ever even be nominated. But that does not mean that the music we make is unworthy of national recognition and reward. I am proud to be chief judge of the The American Prize—because it is the national competition for the rest of us.
We all know that excellence in the arts is not restricted to the famous names, or limited to a single city on either coast, or reserved only for the top graduates of the most prestigious schools. It is not necessary to be well-connected to achieve greatness. In America, it is not location nor pedigree, but talent, love of the art, hard work and commitment that makes the difference.

During my career, I have had the privilege of guest conducting orchestras, choruses, bands and opera companies all over the country—not just professionals, but school, church and community ensembles, and not only in big cities. Whether in the deep south, the far west, the heartland, or on the coasts, I have encountered inspiring artists entertaining audiences, educating young people, enriching communities and contributing to the quality of life.

Maybe you are one of them.

If only The American Prize had existed a little earlier in my career! When I was conducting a community orchestra and a church choir in Hartford, Connecticut, I would have applied. I would have wanted to know how my groups stacked up to similar ensembles elsewhere in the country. Were we really as good as I thought we were?

When I was leading a youth orchestra in Elgin, Illinois, and a community chorus in Libertyville, I would have applied. I thought some of my programming choices were inspired. Would conductors from across the country think so, too?

When I was music director of a professional orchestra in a tiny town in Southern Michigan, I would have applied. In Adrian, my symphony roared through some of the greatest pieces ever written, and the audiences roared back their approval. I wanted people all across the country to know what amazing things we were doing—how well—and where.

And for twenty-five years, I’ve also conducted an orchestra of lawyers in Chicago. Of course, I would have applied.

Because, what if we had won?

What if your audience, donors or membership woke up to the news that you had just won The American Prize, judged to be the finest in the country in your category, chosen by an impartial panel of experienced professionals from all across the United States? There would be prize money, of course, but more important would be the bragging rights, to be emblazoned next year on your brochure, or printed in your church newsletter, or announced at the next faculty meeting. There would be the award certificate hanging proudly in your rehearsal room, office or auditorium lobby; there would be articles in newspapers and magazines pointing to your winning performances, all linked on The American Prize website.

If winning The American Prize might help you sell more tickets, or build your base of donors, or aid recruitment, or enhance your resume, or solidify your position, or add to your press coverage; if you have wished there were a way for your work to be recognized by someone in addition to your audience, board, parents or pastor; if winning might be the shot in the arm you and your group needs, reminding everyone in your community that what you do every day matters profoundly—then you should apply.

The American Prize is here to stay. It is an annual competition that is going to continue to grow in visibility and prestige.

This spring, somebody (a group of somebodys) is going to win The American Prize and be recognized for artistic achievement. Why not you?

David Katz is chief judge of the non-profit The American Prize. Professional conductor, playwright and actor, award-winning composer and arts advocate, he believes deeply in the mission of The American Prize to recognize and reward excellence in the arts wherever in America it is found. 

EMAIL: or:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Applicants to The American Prize need not prepare a special tape for the competition. Previous recording(s), (CD, DVD or VHS video) whether of a concert (or concerts) made in front of an audience, or one(s) created in a recording session without an audience, are absolutely acceptable. The minimum length is 30 minutes, with the understanding that judges will likely not listen (or watch) everything on longer recordings.

If you have additional questions, please email us at either or at our alternate address:

Friday, February 12, 2010

ADDITIONAL EMAIL address added

We have added an additional email address for the competition. Applications (and questions) can be emailed to either the new GMAIL address or the older AOL address starting immediately.



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

POSTMARK DEADLINE for spring competitions EXTENDED to MARCH 15th

The postmark deadline for the spring 2010 competitions of The American Prize has been extended to March 15, 2010 to accommodate anyone who encountered problems accessing the website in the past two weeks. (The competition's internet service provider chose this time period to move The American Prize website to a new server; the transition did not go as smoothly as they had promised.) All other published deadlines for the competitions remain the same. We will continue to welcome applications from orchestras, choruses and their conductors through March 15th.

Additional competitions for 2010 will be announced on the blog, website and facebook pages on March 1st.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Should you encounter any problems with The American Prize website (which has recently been moved to another server by our service provider) below please find quick copies of the four spring 2010 applications to print out.


Should you encounter any problems with The American Prize website (which has recently been moved to a new server by our service provider), here is a quick copy of the orchestral performance application to print out.


Should you encounter any problems with The American Prize website (which has recently been moved to a new server by our service provider), here is a quick copy of the choral performance application to print out.


Should you encounter any problems with The American Prize website (which has recently been moved to a new server by our service provider), here is a quick copy of the orchestral conducting application to print out.


Should you encounter any problems with The American Prize website (which has recently been moved to a new server by our service provider),, here is a quick copy of the choral conducting application to print out.

Monday, February 1, 2010

MILESTONE reached: 1000 unique visitors to website

Google Analytics has registered more than 1000 unique visitors to The American Prize website in recent weeks, and many thousands of page hits from 49 of 50 states. (West Virginia is the only holdout.) Many visitors return to the site multiple times. Visit us here:

PRINCIPLES and FAQs can now be downloaded

Both "Principles of The American Prize" and "Answers to Frequently Asked Questions" can now be downloaded as PDF files directly from the NEWS page of the website. Please visit:

NEW VISIBILITY for The American Prize

The American Prize has received excellent visibility in an article and advertisement in the winter issue of Resound, the print and online publication of the Central Division of the American Choral Directors Association (which is available on their site.) In addition, the Pierre Monteux Conducting School has forwarded the press release and web links to its entire alumni list; as has The Conductors Guild to its membership. Judge Leonard Atherton will be speaking about the competition to a winter meeting of CODA, the College Orchestra Directors Association; The American Prize is listed in print and online editions of Musical America; it will soon be found on Wikipedia.