Friday, August 31, 2012


The American Prize is pleased to announce the WINNERS and runners-up in all divisions of The American Prize in Orchestral Performance. 

Please make us aware of any misprints by emailing:

The American Prize in Orchestral Performance—Professional Division

The American Prize winner: 
Piotr Gajewski, conductor
Montgomery County, Maryland
A judicious merging of the National Chamber Orchestra and Masterworks Chorus on July 1, 2003 created an ensemble with a 55-year combined history of high caliber musical performances in the local area. The mission of the National Philharmonic is to be the dynamic organization of choice providing the highest quality orchestral, choral and other musical experiences to enrich and inspire the lives of people in Montgomery County, the Washington, DC metropolitan area and beyond through concerts and educational programs for all ages.  The Philharmonic serves the residents of Montgomery County, Maryland and the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area. The primary goal of the organization is to provide audiences with high quality, professional performances at a convenient location and an affordable price. The National Philharmonic also aims to appeal to the diverse cultural backgrounds of the community through its musical performances and educational initiatives at the world-class Music Center at Strathmore. With its long-standing history of reasonably priced concert tickets and free admission to all young people ages 7-17, the National Philharmonic is an accessible, enriching component in the Greater Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area.

Stephen Lipsitt, music director
Boston, MA

The Boston Classical Orchestra is a professional per-service chamber orchestra made up of many of the city's finest freelance instrumentalists, offering a subscription season in historic Faneuil Hall. These musicians also play with Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Ballet, and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, and teach at area schools. Founded in 1980, the orchestra recently concluded its 30th-anniversary season with its first-ever performance of Schumann's Symphony No. 2, prompting The Boston Globe to observe: "Schumann's symphony was completely persuasive...The music seemed to soar on its own of the city's lesser-known gems capped its 30th anniversary season with a magnificent success...this orchestra & Lipsitt are capable of taking on big challenges."

Roberta Carpenter, music director
Oconomowoc, WI
The Oconomowoc Chamber Orchestra, a parent organization with two orchestras (Professional & Avocational), a Music Appreciation Series, and a historical instrument project, is in it's third season, preceeded by a year of planning. The Community Orchestra (LCO) performs 4 concerts per year, and The Score Came Second… series is a Music Appreciation/Performance program, featuring guest artists.

The OCO's Debut Concert featured two compositions for Lake Country, a brilliant Paganini Violin Concerto, Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. The concert was recorded and recently released (CD and DVD) incorporating video, photographic, aerial, and artistic images.

The American Prize in Orchestral Performance—Community Division

The American Prize winner: 
David Bernard, music director 
New York, NY
Since its founding in 1999, the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony has built a loyal following, both in New York City and worldwide through its extensive catalog of recordings on iTunes, Naxos/ClassicsOnline, Amazon and Spotify.  Most recently, the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony performed a 9 city concert tour of the People’s Republic of China.  The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony's performances are acclaimed by New York Critics as “Triumphant...polished…exquisite…with a strong sense of style and commitment…with the depth and fervor of the old school European orchestras.”

The ensemble regularly features important soloists including Carter Brey (principal cellist, New York Philharmonic), David Chan (concertmaster, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra), Jon Manasse (clarinet soloist) and Whoopi Goldberg (Oscar Winning Actor and Entertainer), as well as emerging artists from Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music and Mannes. The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony performs at All Saints Church on the Upper East Side of NYC, with additional performances at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall.

Through its fundraising efforts, the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony has helped establish a new Scholarship Fund for students at theJuilliard School’s Pre-College Division, as well as support  The Harmony Program—a New York City organization that provides music lessons to economically disadvantaged children and is modeled after Venezuela's world-famous model of music education, "El Sistema".

Guido Lamell, music director
Los Angeles, CA
The Los Angeles Musician's Symphony is a newly formed ensemble under the Music Directorship of Guido Lamell comprising many of the finest musicians in the Los Angeles Area who have come together voluntarily to raise money for various worthy causes. It was formed specifically in May of 2011 to organize and perform a benefit concert to raise money to help the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11th, 2011. The orchestra in now planning a benefit concert to help victims in the United States of the many Tornadoes which have struck so recently in many of the central states regions of the US.

Christopher Koch, music director
Springfield, MO

The Springfield-Drury Civic Orchestra (SDCO) is southwest Missouri’s regional community orchestra. Founded in 2005, the 100-member ensemble comprises a combination of Drury students, students from most of our region’s universities, professional performers and educators, and dedicated community members (ages 15-75). Now beginning its 7th season, the SDCO presents a yearly 3-concert season of orchestral masterworks—all free and open to public. 

The American Prize in Orchestral Performance—College/University Division

The American Prize Winner:
Tonu Kalam, music director
Chapel Hill, NC

The UNC Symphony Orchestra is a 100-member ensemble which rehearses twice weekly and performs four major concerts each year. Enrollment is open by audition to music majors, non-majors, graduate students in any field, and recent graduates of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Led by its Music Director and Conductor, Tonu Kalam, the orchestra often presents faculty and student musicians as concerto soloists and has regularly collaborated with UNC opera and choral ensembles. Concert repertoire is selected to provide the musicians with a wide perspective of major orchestral works spanning the 18th through 21st centuries.

Lawrence Golan, music director
Denver, CO

The Lamont Symphony Orchestra (LSO) is the resident orchestra of the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music. It performs 7 symphonic concerts and 2 fully-staged opera productions each year. Under the leadership of its Music Director and Conductor Lawrence Golan, the LSO has won an ASCAP Award for the Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music 6 out of the last 8 years. In addition, Golan and the LSO have won Downbeat Magazine’s award for Best College Symphony Orchestra twice, in 2003 and 2012.

Daniel Sommerville, conductor
Wheaton, IL

The Wheaton College Symphony Orchestra of the Wheaton Conservatory of Music is an all-undergraduate ensemble with a typical membership of 75-80 (45-50
string players).  Most recently the orchestra was invited and played for the 2012 College Orchestra Directors Association national conference at Northwestern University.  The orchestra performed in Orchestra Hall, Chicago in 2011, and in 2006 it was the orchestra for the Conductors Guild national conducting workshop.  The orchestra regularly performs with Maestro John Nelson, on such works as Britten¹s War Requiem, Berlioz¹s Requiem, Handel's Messiah, Mendelssohn¹s Elijah, and Brahms' German Requiem.  Daniel Sommerville is their conductor.

The American Prize in Orchestral Performance—Youth Orchestra Division

The American Prize Winner:  
Daniel Alfred Wachs, music director
Orange County, CA

The Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra, now in its 42nd season, is the official youth orchestra of Orange County. Conducted by Music Director Daniel Alfred Wachs, the non-profit OCYSO provides the highest level of pre-professional orchestral training for young musicians in Southern California. OCYSO’s mission, to introduce great music into the lives of young people, is fulfilled in part through its highly acclaimed “Concerts for Fifth Graders,” in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Additionally, OCYSO presents a concert series in the historic Memorial Auditorium at Chapman University.

Michael Webster, conductor
Houston, TX

Houston Youth Symphony was founded in 1947 and now serves approximately 300 students in four orchestras.  Michael Webster has been Artistic Director since
1997, and has led the Symphony, its most advanced orchestra, at the inauguration of Houston mayor Lee Brown, the 2002 National Youth Orchestra Festival and at Carnegie Hall.  HYS is the national first prize winner of the Foundation for Music Education's Mark of Excellence competition in 2008/9/10/11 and the American Prize in 2010/11.

Thomas Taylor Dickey, conductor
Dubuque, IA

The Dubuque Youth Symphony Orchestra (DYSO), founded in 1968, is an honors youth orchestra for students living in the Dubuque area.  Musicians in the Dubuque Youth Symphony Orchestra gain experience performing standard classical repertoire in a full orchestra setting. The DYSO is conducted by Thomas Taylor Dickey.


The American Prize in Orchestral Performance—High School Division

The American Prize Winner:  
Jonathan Handman, conductor
La Grangeville, NY

Arlington High School is located in LaGrangeville, NY and Philharmonia is the most advanced of the four orchestras in the school and was the grand champion winner of the ASTA National Orchestra Festival in March 2012.  The program consists of one 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 75 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 Dr. Brendan Lyons.

Beau Benson, conductor
Waco, TX

The Midway Philharmonic is the most advanced orchestral ensemble offered by the Midway Independent School District.  Primarily a string ensemble, the orchestra often collaborates with the MHS Wind Symphony to perform challenging literature from the symphonic repertoire.  Since its beginning, the Midway Philharmonic has earned consistent sweepstakes awards at UIL Concert and Sight Reading Contest, and has been featured as a demonstration ensemble twice at the Texas Music Educators Association annual convention.  In addition, the orchestra has collaborated with nationally and internationally recognized soloists and clinicians, and has twice been selected as a finalist for the TMEA Honor Orchestra competition.

Congratulations to all winners and runners-up.


The American Prize is pleased to announce the WINNERS and runners-up in many divisions of The American Prize in Choral Performance.

Please make us aware of any misprints by emailing:

The American Prize in Choral Performance
—Community Division

The American Prize winner: 
Joseph Gregorio, conductor
West Chester, PA
Formed in 2011, Ensemble Companio comprises 24 accomplished choral singers from the northeast United States.  The ensemble rehearses once a month and held its debut concert in March 2012.  The group's name derives from a Latin form of the word "companion," whose etymological meaning is "one with whom one shares bread."  Its name reflects its members' belief that partaking in choral music is an essential, nourishing, and healing endeavor, akin to the sharing of food.  Ensemble Companio's mission is to build interpersonal bridges through authentic, inspiring performances of the finest choral music.  

Richard Hynson, director
Milwaukee, WI

Consistent artistic excellence, innovative programming, and powerful community impact are the earned hallmarks of Bel Canto Chorus; Southeastern Wisconsin’s oldest continually performing arts organization. Bel Canto’s mission of enriching the lives of its audiences, singers, and the wider community propels an annual season of four subscription concerts, vital special events, and two significant outreach programs on both ends of the demographic spectrum; Bel Canto Senior Singers and Bel Canto Boy Choirs. Founded in 1931, most of Bel Canto’s one hundred singers are volunteer community members, ranging in age from 20 to 80 and representing all walks of life and professions.

Mark Shapiro, music director
New York, NY

Cantori New York, praised by The New York Times for its “spirit of exploration” and “virtuosity and assurance,” celebrates its 28th season of programming featuring new and neglected works that deserve to be performed and heard.

A three-time winner of the ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, Cantori has built a strong reputation for artistic excellence and innovative programming, including an evening of theatrical choral music with Tony Award winner Maryann Plunkett. Cantori’s collaborators have included the Cassatt String Quartet, Prism Saxophone Quartet, and the Gregg Smith Singers; appearances have included the opening season of Zankel Hall with Michael Tilson Thomas, Great Performers at Lincoln Center, and World Financial Center Arts & Events.
Cantori’s recordings include The Metamorphoses of Paul Crabtree, Echoes and Shadows (contemporary American choral works), and the first CD recording of Frank Martin’s Le Vin Herbé, which was an Opera News Editors’ Choice.

The American Prize in Choral Performance—Special Citation for Unique Collaborative Programming & Performance

Tracia Barbieri, director
Davis, CA 

THE VOCAL ART ENSEMBLE (VAE) is an a capella adult chorus of 20-24 trained musicians, dedicated to presenting varied repertoire meticulously prepared and lovingly performed. Founded in February 2008, VAE regularly performs in Northern CA and has toured abroad in Ireland. Richly themed programs typically include motets and masses composed during the Renaissance, music from diverse cultures, and choral masterworks by living composers. Rehearsing weekly in director Tracia Barbieri's living room, VAE relies entirely upon on community donations to defray costs.

The American Prize in Choral Performance—College/University Division

The American Prize winner:
Andrew Crane, conductor
Greenville, NC

The Chamber Singers is the select choral ensemble at ECU. Comprised of 34-40 auditioned singers, many of whom are voice majors from within the School of Music, the group tours annually and has performed by invitation at regional and national conferences of the American Choral Directors Association and the National Association for Music Education.  They maintain a rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule, and focus predominantly on unaccompanied choral literature suitable for advanced chamber choir.

Nancy Menk*, conductor
Notre Dame, IN

THE SAINT MARY'S COLLEGE WOMEN'S CHOIR *regularly commissions and performs new works for women's voices.  An outgrowth of this emphasis is the publication of the /Saint Mary's College Choral Series/, a collection of new works for women's voices, published by /earthsongs/ of Corvallis, Oregon.  The Choir has performed throughout the United States and has appeared before state and division conventions of the Music Educators National Conference and the American Choral Directors Association.  In February 2005, the Choir appeared before the national convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Los Angeles, CA.  Each November the Choir hosts the annual Saint Mary's College High School Women's Choir Festival, in which 20 choirs from neighboring states perform for each other and a panel of commentators.  The Choir tours nationally every other year, and regularly performs with the University of Notre Dame Glee Club in joint performances of major works with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra.  They have been invited to perform for the ACDA Symposium on American Choral Music in Washington, DC in June, 2012. 

*Dr. Menk is on leave-of-absence from The American Prize judging panel in 2012.

Giselle Wyers, conductor
Seattle, WA

University of Washington Chorale, directed by Giselle Wyers, is an auditioned undergraduate ensemble of 60 music and non-music majors from the Seattle campus.  UW Chorale was recently selected to perform at the 2011 MENC Regional Conference in Seattle, and has appeared as guest ensemble with the Seattle Symphony ("The University Chorale was brilliant," 2008 Seattle Times review) and in joint concerts with Revalia Male Chamber Choir in Estonia, and for the Princess of Sweden. UW Chorale has been invited to appear as the only American choir in the Latvian Song Festival in Riga, Latvia, during the summer of 2013.


The American Prize in Choral Performance—Youth & High School Division

The American Prize winner:
Timothy Powell, conductor
Augusta, GA

The Davidson Chorale, conducted by Dr. Timothy M. Powell, performs regularly at prestigious events and venues in their home state of Georgia, nationally, and internationally. The Chorale most recently performed with two-time Grammy winner Joseph Jennings, Tim Sharp, and Mack Wilberg. The Chorale has been honored with invitations to perform at Lincoln Center as well as GMEA, ACDA, and MENC conventions. In 2010, the Chorale travelled to Germany and the Czech Republic, a tour highlighted by an exclusive invitation to perform on Easter Sunday at the famed St. Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Germany, the home church of J. S. Bach.

Karen Bruno, conductor
Appleton, WI

Bel Canto is the high school component of the Lawrence Academy of Music’s 330-member Girl Choir program.  The Girl Choir program seeks to provide quality choral opportunities for girls in private, public, parochial, and home schools throughout the Fox Valley region.  Through the study and performance of the highest quality music, girls develop vocal technique, musical skills, creativity, expressive artistry, and an awareness of various cultures.  The Girl Choir program strives to create an atmosphere that encourages girls to respect the uniqueness of others, to take risks that foster individual growth, and to continue their development into self-assured young women.

Tatiana Kats, conductor
Columbus, OH

The Columbus International Children's Choir (CICC) offers professional quality singing education and remarkable performance experience for children and youth from Columbus, Ohio, and other Central Ohio communities. It was formed in 1998 by Tatiana Kats, currently artistic director and principal conductor of the choir. CICC consists of over 150 students ages 4-18 and 6 choral groups. The repertoire includes classical, contemporary, sacred and folk, music as well as musicals. The choir performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, in Beijing, Toronto, Chicago, Fort Wayne, Ohio Capitol Statehouse, and in many other venues.

Congratulations to all winners, runners-up and citation recipients.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The American Prize reaches an important MILESTONE

The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts has reached a major milestone. With the awarding of its 2012 prizes to composers, vocalists and pianists earlier this summer,  The American Prize has surpassed $10,000 in cash prizes awarded to winners since 2010.

"I am delighted we have reached this milestone in being able to recognize and reward many individual performing artists and performing arts ensembles as winners of The American Prize," said David Katz, chief judge of the competitions.

"In the months ahead, we plan to redouble our efforts to bring awareness of The American Prize not only to many unheralded or under-appreciated performing artists in the country, but also to donors who may be attracted to our unique mission. Although The American Prize will always be more than monetary, and as the size of the individual awards increases with the competition's growing reputation, the ten-thousand dollar figure represents a serious level of interest and support of these unique contests," Katz said.

Donations to The American Prize are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. To make a donation, please follow this link.

Email for more information or to learn how to create a named gift.

Complete information about 2013 competitions for pianists, vocalists and composers has been posted to the website. 2013 applications for conductors, directors, ensembles and arts administrations will be posted shortly. Please visit:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

FINALISTS: College/University Orchestras and their conductors, 2012

The American Prize is pleased to announce FINALIST conductors and ensembles, 2012, in the College/University division. Please scroll down for additional finalist conductors and ensembles in choral and orchestral music, wind band, opera and musical theater. Congratulations!

Do let us know of any misprints or if you have questions. or


The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2012—College/University Division

Oklahoma State University Symphony Orchestra
, Douglas Droste, conductor, Stillwater, OK—Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5, Debussy, Respighi, Silbelius

Lamont Symphony Orchestra, Lawrence Golan, conductor, Denver, CO—Beethoven: Symphony No. 7,  Hill: Symphony No. 2 (Beethoven 7.1)

Florida State University Symphony Orchestra, Alexander Jimenez, conductor, Tallahassee, FL—Zwilich: Millennium Fantasy, Images, Peanuts Gallery

University of North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, Tonu Kalam, conductor, Chapel Hill, NC—Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances

Wheaton College Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Sommerville, conductor, Wheaton, IL—Nielsen: Symphony No. 2, Ravel: Tombeau de Couperin, Mahler, more


The American Prize in Conducting—Orchestra Division, 2012—College/University

Ricardo Averbach—Miami University Symphony Orchestra, Oxford, OH—Liszt, Debussy, Brahms, more

Daniel W. Boothe—Chautauqua Summer Festival Orchestra, Chautauqua, NY—Grieg: Peer Gynt Suite, Tchaikovsky: Elegy

Conner Gray Covington—Eastman School Symphony Orchestra, Rochester, NY—Schumann, Dvorak: Symphony No. 6, Beethoven, Wagner 

Yorgos Kouritas—Boise Philharmonic, others, Boise, ID—Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 5, Tchaikovsky: Romeo & Juliet, more
Gemma New—Peabody Recital Orchestra, Baltimore, MD—Wagner, Stravinsky, Brahms

Dr. David Rudge—SUNY Fredonia College Symphony Orchestra, Fredonia, NY—Elgar: Enigma Variations, Dvorak: Cello Concerto  

Dr. Bryce Seliger—The Pacific Philharmonic, Forest Grove, OR— Gould, Stravinsky, Beethoven

Vlad Vizireanu—Arizona State University Symphony Orchestra, Tempe, AZ—Vaughan Williams, Liszt