Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CALL FOR SOLOISTS: Sing BEETHOVEN's CHORAL FANTASY in Chicago—Four $500 contracts

CHICAGO ORATORIO AWARD—deadline approaching February 25th.

Four $500 prizes, one each for soprano, mezzo-soprano (alto), tenor, baritone (bass), will be awarded as performance fees to soloists selected to appear under the baton of Maestro David Katz in concert with the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, performing the solo portions of  Beethoven's Choral Fantasy and the Quartet from Verdi's Rigoletto on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at St James Episcopal Cathedral, Chicago. (Dress rehearsal Tuesday evening, May 20, 2014, same location.)

This additional opportunity is offered as part of The American Prize in Vocal Performance Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards national competition and is open to 2014 applicants in the professional and college/university categories, only.

Each winner will receive a $500 all-inclusive fee (no additional housing, travel or per diem), payment to be made on the day of the performance. Although the Chicago Oratorio Award is an additional contest open to all professional and college/university applicants for The American Prize in Vocal Performance, 2014, it is geared primarily to those who live within comfortable travel distance of Chicago and/or who can make their own housing/travel arrangements.

Complete information, application forms and requirements: http://www.theamericanprize.org/vocalperf.html

Automatic postmark deadline extensions to Monday, February 25, 2014 are available to those email by that date with their intention to apply: theamericanprize@gmail.com

Vocal scores to the Beethoven and Verdi may downloaded here:
(see link, middle of the page)

Questions? theamericanprize@gmail.com

Sunday, February 9, 2014

PIANISTS WEIGH IN on the value of The American Prize experience

How valuable is The American Prize in Piano Performance to those who participate? We have received unsolicited emails from several laureates we are proud to share.

In the welter of media "noise" every day,  it is sometimes difficult for artists to get the recognition they so clearly deserve: we are pleased that The American Prize is helping to change that.

From Sarah Chan, winner of The American Prize in Piano Performance, professional division—concerto, and now a member of our distingushed panel of judges:

"I thank you for the objectives of your organization in encouraging many fine artists in their development. I am very thankful for the honor of The American Prize and am grateful for your continued support of excellence in music across this nation....Through The American Prize, your...efforts to encourage excellence in the arts at all levels nationally remain inspirational as a model of generosity, expressing the very soul of art."
—Sarah Chan, Assistant Professor of Music at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, where she is Director of Keyboard Studies and Music Theory in the Department of Fine Arts.

From Catharine Dornin, The American Prize in Piano Performance
3rd place, professional division, concerto

"I am so thrilled to have been a part of this competition and all the wonderful opportunities it offers to its finalists and winners. I'm delighted to have my picture on your website and to have won third place in the Concerto Performance Category in the Professional Division. I definitely saw the press release that the Concord Monitor, our local newspaper, ran in August concerning my award and I appreciate this recognition so very much. It is wonderfully helpful to me both as a performer and music teacher. 

I've received so many congratulations from friends and acquaintances. I've tried to explain to them how The American Prize is a new and wonderful award opportunity for artists who've been laboring in relative obscurity for years to have their performances listened to and adjudicated by highly qualified judges and to give those performers professional recognition that is just invaluable and is so very affirming.

It's so helpful to my musical career to have all this great support and recognition. It is just a wonderful idea! We are all so very grateful." 

—Catharine Dornin, faculty
St Paul's School and Concord Community Music School, Concord, NH

And this, from another distinguished member of the national judging panel for The American Prize in Piano Performance:

"you've created a new type of art music competition.  Fantastic!"

Michael Benson
Michael Benson is Assistant Professor of Music and Coordinator of Keyboard Studies at Malone University in Canton, Ohio.


The American Prize is unique. A non-profit organization that focuses on recognizing and rewarding artists solely based on their recorded performances, contestants avoid the hassle and expense of traveling to competitions. Our distinguished panel of nationally recognized judges provides every contestant, from finalist to winner, with unbiased written evaluations. With no age limits and few repertoire restrictions and separate divisions for professional, college/university, high school and amateur artists, we assist artists in building careers, audiences and visibility.

The extended postmark deadline for The American Prize in Piano Performance, 2014, which includes separate competitions in solo performance and in concerto, is Monday, February 25, 2014.  Visit the The American Prize website for complete information, application forms, bios and photos of past winners, and more.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

JUDITH LANG ZAIMONT: excerpts from evaluations of student works

The excerpts below derive from a series of evaluations written for The American Prize by the distinguished American composer and TAP judge, JUDITH LANG ZAIMONT. Ms. Zaimont helped adjudicate student orchestral works in 2013. 

To read about Ms. Zaimont's extraordinary career, please click here to reach the judges' biography page on our website.

Although judges have a great deal of leeway about the structure and length of the evaluations they provide, the excerpts below represent a sample of the quality of evaluative thought we aspire to provide to every contestant who reaches Finalist status or higher in the competitions of The American Prize.

“In reviewing student works, skillful handling of the orchestral medium is considered baseline competence. Beyond that one looks for imagination, inventiveness, an abundant musicality, fresh ideas, and especially, if the composer is capable of going beyond replicating familiar models. Another sign of true maturity is having developed a distinct take on harmony and rhythm, plus mastery in innovating forms – but these more often manifest later on.”  

“(The work displays) coherent and skillful use of the orchestra as an entire inflected instrument in itself. Exciting music, due largely to an active carving across the flow of beat, displaying a sophisticated and personal command of rhythm.”

“The instruments are used appropriately and effectively, both as individual colors and in terms of sectional strengths. The final third of the piece is excellent – both in its character and its distinct point. The flow of music across time is well-personalized. “

“This work is utterly original in its formal structure.  It uses minimal materials, almost insubstantial, but fitting. (It is) intimate, contained, ritual music that moves in a very human progress –  almost as if strands of thought come forward, linger in examination and then dissipate.”

“Without the spine of a distinctive anchoring harmony, the musical capture of  inhales – exhales seems overly long in getting to letter L (which is placed actually just shy of the golden mean).”

“Really novel the idea behind this piece, requiring an adventurous mind-set for all members of the orchestra...Structurally, the opening bars and the closing effect are striking. However, the overall orchestration  -- while precise on a chamber-ensemble scale --  falls short in gauging relative tone-weight for the several dramatic interjections. Singleton winds cannot compete in defined pronunciation with singleton brass. And the delicate string ostinato – which is most of the piece – would be most effective if it is not interrupted, continuing palely, even while the trio’s main music is being played.”

(Please note that judges' assignments are rotated regularly, based on their qualifications, areas of interest, years of service, and availability at any particular stage of the evaluation process.)