Sunday, October 19, 2014


The American Prize is honored to announce the winners and runners-up in the community orchestra division of The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2014. Congratulations!  

All finalists receive written evaluations from a member of The American Prize judging panel.

Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found elsewhere on this blog.  

Please make us aware of any misprints:

The American Prize in Orchestral Performance
—community orchestra division

The American Prize winner:
Howard Hsu, music director
Valdosta, GA

Created in 1990, the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra serves both the cultural life of Valdosta and the regional academic mission of Valdosta State University. The high standard of performance of the orchestra enables it to attract guest soloists of national and international renown to the Valdosta community. The orchestra's membership is a unique blend of resident artist-faculty, students studying professional music disciplines, talented community performers, and carefully selected professionals from a five-state region. Supported by an Advisory Board of Directors, the Valdosta Symphony Guild, Valdosta State University, corporate sponsors, and hundreds of individual patrons, the orchestra has become an important part of the cultural life of the entire region.    

Among judges' comments: "The ensemble plays with excellent intonation and balance. The individual wind and brass players are of high quality and play with lovely tone."

2nd Place (there was a tie):
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.  In 2011 the orchestra toured the People’s Republic of China performing in 9 cities including Beijing, Qingdao, Dalian, Chaoyang, Jinzhou, Shenzhen, Shenyang and Xi’an. 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 the Juilliard 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”.

Among judges' comments: "This is an excellent orchestra with many experienced players of quality, especially in the string sections."

2nd Place (there was a tie):
Anna Edwards, music director
Seattle, WA

Seattle Collaborative Orchestra is an intergenerational, semi-professional community orchestra with a strong educational component based in collaboration. Musicians of the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra largely consist of members or alumni of Seattle high schools and University of Washington music students, in addition to members of professional music ensembles in the Seattle area (i.e. Seattle Symphony and Pacific Northwest Ballet). It is our aspiration to spread musical enjoyment to our Seattle metropolitan community.

Among judges' comments: "…sensitive ensemble playing, very accurate and musical. There are exceptional individual players in the orchestra."

3rd Place:
Peter Wilson, music director
Waynesboro, VA

The Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra ( WSO ) founded in 1996,  is a non-profit organization of professional, amateur and student musicians serving Waynesboro, Staunton, Charlottesville and other Central Virginia Communities. The WSO provides dedicated instrumentalists with opportunities to collaborate in an intergenerational and educational environment, to share in the joy of music-making and to contribute to the cultural vitality of the region.

Among judges' comments: "...very intense opening; deeply felt; strings very good. As a whole, a very moving and musical performance."


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