Wednesday, January 4, 2017

WINNERS: Ernst Bacon Memorial Award (revised)

Ernst Bacon
This listing was revised May 24, 2017 to include an additional citation recipient.

The American Prize is honored to announce the winners, runners-up and honorable mention recipients of The American Prize ERNST BACON MEMORIAL AWARD in the Performance of American Music, 2016, in all divisions. Congratulations!

Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found elsewhere on this blog. Please use the chronological tool in the right-hand column to find specific results.

Among the many contests of The American Prize, the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music is unique. It recognizes and rewards the best performances of American music by orchestras and choruses worldwide, based on submitted recordings. Applications are accepted from professional, college/university, community and high school orchestras, competing in separate divisions, from choruses performing with orchestra, from orchestra and choral conductors, and from composers of orchestral or choral/orchestral music with excellent recordings of their works.

Focused exclusively on works by American composers from any period and in any style, the contest not only judges performances, but in the case of new or unfamiliar works, the music itself.

Ernst Bacon (1898—1990) was one of that pioneering generation of composers who, along with Thomson, Copland, Harris, and others, found a voice for American music. Winner of a Pulitzer Scholarship (for his Symphony in D minor) and no fewer than three Guggenheim Fellowships, Ernst Bacon set out to create compositions that expressed the vitality and affirmative spirit of our country.

It is fitting, and with honor, that The American Prize creates an annual award in the memory of Ernst Bacon, recognizing the finest performances of American orchestral music worldwide.

To learn more about the music & legacy of Ernst Bacon, please visit the website of the Ernst Bacon Society.

Please make us aware of any misprints in the listings below by emailing:


Nan Washburn, conductor and Michigan Philharmonic, Plymouth MI
for these recorded performances:    

    Michael Daugherty—Ladder to the Moon
    Carter Pann—Slalom
    Kareem Roustom—Hewar

Nan Washburn, conductor and Michigan Philharmonic, Plymouth MI
Michigan Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor since 1999, Nan  Washburn is the 2013 Winner of the American Prize in Orchestral  Conducting Professional Division. She has also received19 ASCAP Awards  for Adventuresome Programming of Contemporary Music from the League of  American Orchestras. Previously serving as Music Director and Conductor  of Orchestra Sonoma, the West Hollywood Orchestra and Camellia Symphony,  she has guest conducted the symphony orchestras of Richmond, Sacramento,  Wyoming, Eugene, Berkeley, Marin, Cheyenne, Dubuque and Stockton  addition to appearances with Oregon Mozart Players, Women's  Philharmonic, the University of Michigan Philharmonia. Washburn has  worked with and performed works by many of the leading composers in the  U.S. today, including Ned Rorem, Libby Larsen, Ellen Zwilich, Zhou Long,  John Corigliano, Joan Tower, Frank Ticheli, Alvin Singleton, Chen Yi,  Lou Harrison, Lowell Liebermann, Michael Daugherty and Jennifer Higdon.

The Michigan Philharmonic, one of the most innovative and dynamic  professional orchestras in Southeast Michigan, was recently awarded the  prestigious Knight Foundation Arts Challenge Grant and received 2nd and  3rd Place honors from The American Prize, professional orchestra  division. Michigan Phil is bringing its events into an ever-expanding  roster of Michigan communities, including Plymouth, Canton,  Birmingham-Bloomfield, Brighton, Downtown Detroit, and many others. The  organization is committed to reaching out to a broad and diverse array  of audiences. Currently in its 70th Season, the orchestra plays a full  season of concerts throughout the year including pops, outdoor,  Bollywood and Fusion Festivals. The Philharmonic also has an extensive  education program that includes the Michigan Philharmonic Youth  Orchestra. 

Michael Daugherty is one of the most frequently commissioned,  programmed, and recorded composers on the American concert music scene  today. Daugherty first came to international attention when the  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performed his Metropolis Symphony at  Carnegie Hall in 1994. Since that time, Daugherty’s music has entered  the orchestral, band and chamber music repertoire and made him,  according to the League of American Orchestras, one of the ten most  performed living American composers. Daugherty is a frequent guest of  professional orchestras, festivals, universities and conservatories  around the world. He has been the Composer-in-Residence with the Louisville Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Colorado Symphony, and Cabrillo  Festival of Contemporary Music, among others. Daugherty has received  numerous awards, distinctions, and fellowships for his music including a  Fulbright Fellowship, Kennedy Center Friedheim Award. Daugherty’s  Metropolis Symphony and Deus ex Machina was honored with three GRAMMY®  Awards, including Best Classical Contemporary Composition for Deus ex  Machin. 

Composer/pianist Carter Pann has written for and worked with musicians  around the world, garnering performances by ensembles such as the London  Symphony and City of Birmingham Symphony, the Tchaikovsky Symphony in  Moscow, many Radio Symphonies around Europe, the Seattle Symphony,  National Repertory Orchestra, the youth orchestras of New York and  Chicago, and countless wind ensembles. He has written for Richard  Stoltzman, the Antares Ensemble, the Capitol Saxophone Quartet, the West  Coast Wind Quintet, the River Oaks Chamber Ensemble, and many concert  pianists. His String Quartet No. 2 “Operas” was commissioned by the  Takács Quartet to premiere in the 2015-16 season. Pann has been awarded  a Charles Ives Fellowship, a Masterprize seat in London and five ASCAPs  over the years. His numerous albums encompass solo, vocal, chamber,  orchestral, and wind music and have received two Grammy nominations to  date. He currently teaches at the University of Colorado in Boulder. 

Steeped in the musical traditions of the Near East and trained in western concert music and jazz, Syrian-born Kareem Roustom is an  Emmy-nominated composer who is a musically bilingual composer who has  collaborated with a wide variety of artists receiving numerous  commissions to compose works for Kronos Quartet, Daniel Barenboim and  the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra's  department of education, and others. Recent performances of Roustom’s  music have included performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Malmö  Opera Orchestra (Sweden), and at numerous festivals including the  Verbier Festival, the Lucerne Festival, the Salzburg Festival, the BBC  Proms, as well as performances in Japan, China, Germany, France, the  U.K., Argentina, the Middle East, and the U.S.A. Roustom’s work in film  includes a number of award-winning narrative and documentary films that  have competed at festivals that include Sundance, Cannes, Tribeca and  many others.

2nd Place:
Christina Brice Dolanc, composer, and Erie Chamber Orchestra & Erie Renaissance Singers Erie PA
for this recorded performance:

    Stars Alone for SSAATTBB Choral Ensemble and String Orchestra -- Christina Brice Dolanc
    poem by Sara Teasdale
    commissioned by the Erie Chamber Orchestra
    premiered April 2016 by the Erie Chamber Orchestra
    featuring the Erie Renaissance Singers 

Christina Brice Dolanc

Erie Chamber Orchestra & Matthew Kraemer
Christina Brice Dolanc is a composer, violinist, and vocalist currently residing in Erie, PA. She is steadily joining the ranks of today’s most innovative writers for strings and vocal ensemble and has recently found success with several of her compositions, including eight premieres, four commissions, and several national and international awards. Her music has been described as neo-impressionistic and emotionally enchanting.

Conductor Matthew Kraemer is the Music Director of the Erie Chamber Orchestra and has been recognized for his “musical sensitivity” and “energized sense of interpretation”. He was recently appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, and is in his fourth season as Music Director and Conductor of the Butler County Symphony (Butler, PA). His guest conducting schedule includes numerous ensembles throughout North America and Europe.

The Erie Chamber Orchestra (Erie, PA) was founded as the Erie Bayfront Orchestra in 1978 by conductor Bruce Morton Wright, and is currently sponsored by Gannon University. Comprised of the region’s finest musicians, the group is able to maintain its mission to ensure everyone has access to classical music.

The Erie Renaissance Singers was founded in 1999 by Carolyn Brock and has been led by Steven A. Woods since 2014. They are dedicated to fostering a human connection to music through their high standards of choral excellence. Despite the word “Renaissance” appearing in their name, the 15-member ensemble performs a varied program of choral music from all eras including modern compositions.

3rd Place (there was a tie):
Tim Huling, composer, and Saratoga Orchestra of Whidbey Island, Anna Edwards, conductor, Whidbey Island WA
for this recorded performance:
    The American Northwest - A Concerto for Harp and Clarinet (2015)
    Composer: Tim Huling
    Soloists: John Carrington, Harp and Jennifer Nelson, Clarinet
    Ensemble: Saratoga Orchestra of Whidbey Island
    Conductor: Anna Edwards

John Carrington, Harp and Jennifer Nelson, Clarinet

Saratoga Orchestra of Whidbey Island
    Conductor: Anna Edwards

Composer: Tim Huling
TIM HULING, composer of The American Northwest, is a Seattle native and concert and media composer who has written chamber music, ballet, jazz, film scores and video games. Past projects include music for the Beijing Olympics, PBS's Inside Passage, TLC's Little People, Big World. Mr. Huling is on the Film Scoring faculty at Berklee College of Music.

SARATOGA ORCHESTRA of Whidbey Island (WA) is a professional orchestra formed in 2007 as an expansion of the Saratoga Chamber Players founded by Whidbey Island’s legendary violinist and arts supporter, Michael Nutt.  The orchestra achieved significant growth from 2007 through 2012 under the leadership of Conductor Emeritus, Legh W. Burns. In 2014, Anna Edwards was appointed Music Director and Conductor and currently leads the orchestra.

ANNA EDWARDS, Music Director and Conductor of the Saratoga Orchestra, holds several positions as an artist/teacher in the Seattle area. Anna is the Director or Orchestras at Roosevelt High School in Seattle and additionally serves as conductor, founder, and music director of the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra. Her performing groups have been recognized at the local, state and national levels. In 2014, Anna received 1st place for conducting in The American Prize community orchestra division and the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra received 2nd place in The American Prize community orchestra performance division. Anna received her Doctorate of Musical Arts in conducting from the University of Washington and previously studied conducting at the prestigious Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.

3rd Place (there was a tie):
Jason Lim, conductor, and the Odysseus North Texas Chamber Orchestra, McKinney TX 
for this recorded performance:

    Russell Peck—Signs of Life II

Jason Lim, conductor, and the Odysseus North Texas Chamber Orchestra

Jason Lim, conductor, and the Odysseus North Texas Chamber Orchestra
Recognized by the Denton-Record Chronicle as one of “2012’s Most Fascinating People,” the career of conductor Jason Lim is on the rise. Lim was born in Penang, Malaysia and began his formal training in viola performance when he won a scholarship to study at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts with Alice Waten. He commenced his studies at the Canberra (Australia) School of Music, and completed his bachelor’s degree with honors at the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney. Jason received his Masters degree in orchestral conducting from the University of North Texas. Known for his fine technique in performances, Jason began his conducting studies in Australia: first as an apprentice with the Canberra Youth Orchestra, and later as an Assistant Conductor with the Ku Ring Gai Philharmonic Orchestra in Sydney, a position that was awarded in conjunction with the New South Wales Ministry of Arts Conducting Prize. Most recently, Mr. Lim has been of awards from the American Prize Competition: the 2011 Young Conductor Citation Award, third prize in the 2013 Conducting Competition and most recently second prize in the 2015 and 2014 American Prize Competition for professional conductors. In 2013 Jason made his European conducting debut with the Academic State Concert Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine in Kiev and in 2014 appeared as guest conductor with the Zabrze Philharmonic Orchestra in Poland and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Founded in Denton in 2012, Odysseus Chamber Orchestra consists of  professional classical musicians from the DFW area. In May 2012, Odysseus launched a successful inaugural performance featuring local soloists, performed with Christopher Deane, Professor of Percussion at the University of North Texas and gave the world premiere of Breathe by Brad Robin, a work commissioned by Artistic Director, Jason Lim. Innovative in its programs under the direction of Jason Lim, OCO collaborated with the Denton City Contemporary Ballet  staging a full ballet performance of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and in 2014 staged the premiere performance of the full production of Igor Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale. In 2014 OCO collaborated with world renowned double bassist, Jeff  Bradetich featuring the Tango music of Astor Piazzolla. In its short history, the Odysseus Chamber Orchestra has gained a growing national reputation as an emerging ensemble, winning third prize in the 2015 American Prize Competition for professional orchestras, 2nd prize in the 2014 and 3rd prize the year before. OCO has supported local service clubs like the Denton Breakfast Kiwanis Club, the Robson Ranch Kiwanis Club, sponsoring events such as the Eliminate Project Cruise and the Passing of the Banner Dinner. The outreach programs of Odysseus has expanded in the last two year, providing free chamber music series concerts, free amenity concerts in neighborhoods, educational school performances and collaborating with the Arts and Music Guild to organize the Summer Music Intensives.

JUDGES CITATION: "Exceptional Scholarship Leading to the Revival of a Charming American Work"
Paul Mauffray
    Hradec Kralove Philharmonic
    Czech Republic

for Chadwick's Tabasco
Paul Mauffray
Paul Mauffray began his music studies at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and Louisiana State University. He won 2nd Prize in the Bartok Conducting Competition and has 20 years professional conducting experience with European orchestras and operas in Prague, Brno, Bratislava, Lyon, Salzburg, St. Petersburg, and Vienna. After studies in Germany and the Czech Republic, he earned his master's degree in conducting at Indiana University where he was engaged as Associate Instructor. He conducted at the Bucharest National Opera, Slovak National Opera, and appeared frequently as conductor with violin-soloist Tomas Vinklat from the Vienna Philharmonic. Mauffray has been a frequent guest conductor with the Hradec Kralove Philharmonic, Janacek Philharmonic, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic, and Schoenbrunn Palace Orchestra in Vienna.  In 2016 he recorded the opera “The Scarlet Letter” and conducted performances of “Rusalka” at the Mariinsky Theatre. He is currently reconstructing the 1894 opera "Tabasco" by George W. Chadwick.


The American Prize winner:
Peter Askim, conductor, and The Next Festival of Emerging Artists, NYC & Falls Village CT
 for these recorded performances:

    Pierre Jalbert—Autumn Rhapsody
    Lisa Bielawa—The Trojan Woman

Lisa Bielawa
Pierre Jalbert
Peter Askim, conductor
About the Next Festival of Emerging Artists
The Next Festival of Emerging Artists is an immersion experience for talented string players on the cusp of great careers. Combining intense musical study and performance at the highest level, the festival brings together young artists, aged 20-30, from the best music schools and conservatories in the country, to work in a highly individualized and inspirational atmosphere.
The Next Festival is dedicated to championing the music of our time and supporting the artists of tomorrow. The 2015 season marked the Festival’s New York debut at (le)poisson rouge, in a program of all living composers. The concert was featured on the WQXR/Q2’s program New York Now. (

About Peter Askim
Active as a conductor, composer and bassist, Peter Askim is the Artistic Director of the Next Festival of Emerging Artists and the conductor of the Raleigh Civic Symphony and Chamber Orchestra, as well as Director of Orchestral Activities at North Carolina State University. He was formerly Music Director and Composer-in-Residence of the Idyllwild Arts Academy.

A dedicated champion of the music of our time, he has premiered numerous works, including works by composers Richard Danielpour, Nico Muhly, Christopher Theofanidis, Pierre Jalbert, Phil Kline, Rufus Reid, Chen Yi and Aaron Jay Kernis. He has collaborated with such artists as the Miró String Quartet, ETHEL Matt Haimovitz, Vijay Iyer and Sō Percussion.

About Pierre Jalbert

Pierre Jalbert is Professor of Composition and Theory at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music in Houston, where he has taught since 1996, and he serves as one of the artistic directors of Musiqa, a Houston-based contemporary chamber ensemble. His music is published by Schott Music. Among his many honors are the Rome Prize, the BBC Masterprize, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's 2007 Stoeger Award, given biennially "in recognition of significant contributions to the chamber music repertory", and a 2010 award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

About Lisa Bielawa
Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa is a 2009 Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition. Gramophone reports, “Bielawa is gaining gale force as a composer, churning out impeccably groomed works that at once evoke the layered precision of Vermeer and the conscious recklessness of Jackson Pollock,” and The New York Times describes her music as, “ruminative, pointillistic and harmonically slightly tart.” In 1997 she co-founded the MATA Festival, which celebrates the work of young composers. Bielawa was appointed Artistic Director of the acclaimed San Francisco Girls Chorus in 2013 and is an artist-in-residence at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, California.

2nd Place:
Hugh Murphy, conductor, and SUNY Purchase Opera/Purchase Orchestra, Purchase NY 
for this recorded performance:

    Robert Ward—The Crucible

Hugh Murphy, conductor
Hugh Murphy has been the Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Purchase Opera for their past sixteen seasons.  Under his baton, several Purchase Opera productions have been favorably reviewed by The New York Times, Opera News Magazine, Fanfare Magazine, American Radio Guide, and others; nine Purchase productions have been named “Best Opera of the Year” by the National Opera Association.  World-premiere recordings with Purchase Opera (Albany Records): The Tempest (Hoiby), Confession (Lucas).  At Purchase College, Mr. Murphy is responsible for coaching the voice majors, and teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in German and French Art Song, Operatic Literature and Styles.  Other faculty affiliations: Mannes College of Music (former), Eastman School of Music (Visiting Faculty), “Si Parla, and Si Canta!” (Italy).  Mr. Murphy’s expertise and experience span the vocal repertoire from the earliest operas to the most recent; his professional clients perform with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies.

3rd Place: 
Mark Bartley, conductor, and West Texas A&M University Symphony Orchestra Ensemble, Canyon TX
for this recorded performance:

    Libby Larsen—Four on the Floor

Mark Bartley, conductor, and West Texas A&M University Symphony Orchestra Ensemble
Mark Bartley, conductor
In addition to its performances at opera productions, traditional concerts, choral-orchestral masterworks, and dance collaborations, the West Texas A&M University Symphony Orchestra has gained notoriety for its live cinema presentations of silent films with newly-composed synchronized soundtracks.  Primarily comprised of undergraduate and graduate music students, the 65-member orchestra also includes students with other majors.  The ensemble frequently tours the West Texas region, but this May completed its first international tour with performances in Prague, Budapest, and Vienna.

Mark Bartley has conducted professional orchestras around the world including the Atlantic Coast Orchestra (Portugal), China Opera and Dance Symphony Orchestra (Beijing), the Harbin Opera Orchestra (China), the North Czech Philharmonic (Teplice) and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Bacau (Romania).  He has also conducted ensembles from Cornell, Yale, Boston University, University of Hawaii, Mount Holyoke College, and the New England Conservatory.  In Texas, Dr. Bartley has led the Amarillo Youth Symphony and served the Amarillo Symphony as Associate Conductor.  He has been Director of Orchestral Activities at WTAMU since 2006.

Michael W. Moore, conductor, and Bob Jones University Symphony Orchestra, Greenville SC
   Ernest Bloch—Schelomo
    Stephen Hawkey, cello soloist

Michael W. Moore, conductor, and Bob Jones University Symphony Orchestra
The Bob Jones University Symphony Orchestra, one of three orchestras at BJU, exists to inspire artistic excellence in performance as a display of God’s glory and His gifts to man. Auditions are open to all students in the University regardless of major program of study. The Symphony has a long and rich tradition of presenting masterworks from the orchestral and operatic repertoire.

Conductor Michael W. Moore is in his fifth season at the helm of the Bob Jones University Symphony Orchestra in Greenville, SC. Under his baton, the BJUSO received Honorable Mention in the college/university division of the 2015 American Prize for Orchestral Performance. Moore also serves as conductor and music director for the Fountain Inn (SC) Symphony Orchestra. He holds degrees in music education and instrumental conducting and studied with William Moody (USC-Columbia).

Stephen Hawkey is a cello performance major at BJU where he studies with Dr. Yuriy Leonovich. Stephen won the 2016 BJU Concerto & Aria Competition and was recently accepted into the 2016 National Repertory Orchestra as one of nine cellists chosen from around the world. With the Chante Piano Trio, he was semifinalist in the 2015 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. During the summer of 2015, he and his trio members studied with Colin Carr, Kim Kashkashian, and Daniel Philips at the Music Mountain Masterclass Series.

Peggy Dettwiler, conductor and the Mansfield University Concert Choir, Mansfield, PA
    Sing til the Spirit Moves (spirituals from twenty-three seasons)
Mansfield University Concert Choir

Peggy Dettwiler, conductor
The African American spiritual (also called the Negro Spiritual) comprises one of the largest and most significant forms of American folksong.  The Mansfield University Concert Choir, under the direction of Peggy Dettwiler, has performed these powerful choral art songs annually for more than twenty years with deep respect and earnest understanding.  The MU Concert Choir, the premier touring ensemble, has been invited for twenty consecutive years to perform at state, regional, national, or international choral conventions and has won eight gold medals at the World Choir Games including a Championship and four second-place prizes as well as first place and two second-place prizes at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales. The Concert Choir also won the American Prize in Choral Performance for the College & University Division in 2011 and gave their debut performance in Carnegie Hall as a part of the Performing Arts Educators 8th Annual Invitational in 2014. Peggy Dettwiler, Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Mansfield University, has served as a guest conductor and lecturer throughout the country and has given presentations at numerous NAfME and ACDA Conventions.  Dettwiler has produced two DVDs, one entitled, “Developing a Vocal Color Palette for Various Choral Styles” and the second, “Sing in Style.” She presented an interest session at the World Choral Symposium in Seoul, Korea, in August of 2014, and served as an adjudicator for the 2016 World Choir Games in Sochi, Russia.  Dettwiler received the Presidential Coin for Excellence from General Francis Hendricks, President of Mansfield University and was designated “Honored Artist of the American Prize.”

Michael Richards, conductor and the UMBC Symphony, Baltimore MD
    William Grant Still—Afro-American Symphony

Michael Richards, conductor and the UMBC Symphony
Founded in 1973 in Baltimore by conductor/violinist Robert Gerle, The UMBC Symphony is an ensemble of 90 students that performs music from the 17th to 21st centuries.  In addition to symphonies by Berlioz, Beethoven, Brahms and Sibelius, music from the last 100 years has also been represented on their recent concerts by works of Rahilia Hasanova (Azerbaijan/USA), Daniel Schnyder (Switzerland), Sofia Kamayianni (Greece), and Dmitri Shostakovich, as well as American composers Charles Ives, William Grant Still, Linda Dusman,  Karena Ingram, and Zach Thomas.  Guest soloists have included the Italian/Swiss "Trio des Alpes."  UMBC is a mid-sized public research university with a liberal arts curriculum, and has recently received attention as a national leader in both innovation and undergraduate teaching (U.S. News and World Report).   The student body, drawn from all 50 states and more than 100 other countries, is one of the most diverse in the nation.  Members of the Symphony are currently undergraduate students who are majoring in music and/or one of 19 other disciplines.

E. Michael Richards assumed leadership of the UMBC Symphony beginning in the fall of 2007.  Dr. Richards previously served as conductor of the Hamilton College Orchestra for 17 years, the Bowdoin College Orchestra, and as assistant conductor with the La Jolla Civic Orchestra (San Diego).  He has also guest-conducted the Syracuse Society for New Music. Fanfare Magazine heralded a recording on the Opus One label of Masataka Matsuo’s Hirai V that Richards led with the Hamilton College Orchestra as “a staggering achievement.”

Carolyn Watson, conductor and the Texas State University Symphony, San Marcos, TX
    Mollicone—Lady Bird, First Lady of the Land 

Carolyn Watson, conductor

Mollicone—Lady Bird, First Lady of the Land
Winner of the 2015 American Prize in Orchestral Performance and Runner-up for the American Prize in Conducting, Australian conductor Carolyn Watson is Director of Orchestral Studies at Texas State University. From 2013-15 she held the position of Conductor of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, having also conducted the World Youth Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra. Prior to moving to the US Carolyn enjoyed a successful tenure as the inaugural Conductor-in-Residence at Sydney's Conservatorium High School from 2011-2013. A Fellow of the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival, Carolyn was a major prizewinner at the 2012 Emmerich Kálmán International Operetta Conducting Competition in Budapest. She is the recipient of the Brian Stacey Award for Emerging Australian Conductors, Charles Mackerras Conducting Prize, Nelly Apt Scholarship and Opera Foundation Australia’s Bayreuth Opera Award and Berlin New Music Opera Award. Dr. Watson holds a PhD in Performance (Conducting) from the University of Sydney where the subject of her doctoral thesis was Gesture as Communication: The Art of Carlos Kleiber.


The American Prize winner:
Diane Retallack, artistic director, and the Eugene Vocal Arts Chamber Choir, Eugene OR
for this recorded performance:     

    Shadow & Light, an Alzheimer’s Journey in 16 movements, by Joan Szymko
    Newly commissioned work premiered April 8 and 10, 2016
    Beall Concert Hall, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon

    Eugene Vocal Arts (chamber choir of the Eugene Concert Choir organization)
    Eugene Concert Orchestra
    Soloists: Marietta Simpson, mezzo; Sarah Joanne Davis, soprano; Brendan Tuohy, tenor; Lexy Wellman, narrator
    Conductor Dr. Diane Retallack

Eugene Vocal Arts and Eugene Concert Orchestra

Joan Szymko

Diane Retallack, artistic director
Eugene Vocal Arts, the chamber choir of the Eugene Concert Choir organization, was founded by Artistic Director Dr. Diane Retallack in 1986. The 40-voice ensemble specializes in sophisticated repertoire from the Renaissance to the present and along with its parent organization is a resident company of the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene, Oregon. The Eugene Concert Choir organization commissioned Oregon composer Joan Szymko to create a choral work on the subject of memory loss, such as Alzheimer’s disease, entitled Shadow & Light. This ground-breaking masterwork was premiered by Eugene Vocal Arts and the organization’s orchestra, Eugene Concert Orchestra, in April of 2016. The project also includes a concert video, CD recording, and video documentary of the journey. Conductor Diane Retallack received her Doctor of Music from Indiana University and has been Artistic Director of the Eugene Concert Choir organization since 1985.

Eugene Vocal Arts, the chamber choir of the Eugene Concert Choir organization, was founded by Artistic Director Dr. Diane Retallack in 1986. The 40-voice ensemble specializes in sophisticated repertoire from the Renaissance to the present and along with its parent organization is a resident company of the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene, Oregon. The Eugene Concert Choir organization commissioned Oregon composer Joan Szymko to create a choral work on the subject of memory loss, such as Alzheimer’s disease, entitled Shadow & Light. This ground-breaking masterwork was premiered by Eugene Vocal Arts and the organization’s orchestra, Eugene Concert Orchestra, in April of 2016. The project also includes a concert video, CD recording, and video documentary of the journey. Conductor Diane Retallack received her Doctor of Music from Indiana University where she studied conducting with Margaret Hillis and score study with Julius Herford. She pursued further study in workshops with Helmuth Rilling and Robert Shaw. Diane Retallack has been Artistic Director of the Eugene Concert Choir organization since 1985 and was recipient of the 2005 Bishop Arts and Letters Award for extraordinary contribution to arts and culture in Eugene. Composer Joan Szymko has a catalog of over 100 published choral works and her music is performed by ensembles across North America and abroad.  Her music has been performed at regional, national and international choral festivals, competitions and conferences including six consecutive National Conferences of the ACDA.

2nd Place:
Donald L. Appert, conductor, Clark College Orchestra, Vancouver WA
for this recorded performance:

    Eric Ewazen—Palmetto Suite for Alto Trombone and Orchestra

Donald L. Appert, conductor, Clark College Orchestra
Eric Ewazen
Eric Ewazen was born in 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio. Receiving a B.M. At the Eastman School of Music, and M.M. and D.M.A. degrees from The Juilliard School, his teachers include Milton Babbitt, Samuel Adler, Warren Benson, Joseph Schwantner and Gunther Schuller. He is a recipient of numerous composition awards and prizes.. His works are recorded on Summit Records, d'Note Records, CRS Records, New World, Clique Track, Helicon, Hyperion, Cala, Albany and Emi Classics. He has been a faculty member at Juilliard School since 1980. Palmetto Suite for Alto Trombone and Orchestra was commissioned by Ronald Barron, Principal Trombone of the Boston Symphony and premiered by the Clark College Orchestra.

Donald Appert has been Music Director/Conductor of the Clark College Orchestra since 1990. He has guest conducted orchestras in Europe, Central America, Japan and Australia. Currently he is a Professor of Music and Head of the Music Department at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. In addition he is the Music Director/Conductor of the Oregon Sinfonietta and of the Jewish Community Orchestra, both in Portland, Oregon.  He received The American Prize in Orchestral Programming—Vytautas Marijosius  Memorial Award in 2011 for his work with the Oregon Sinfonietta, an Honorable Mention in 2012, 3rd Place in 2014, and 2nd Place in 2015. He was also Honored Artist of the American Prize in 2015. In 2014 he received the Clark County (WA) Arts Commission Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award.

3rd Place:
Libi Lebel, conductor, and Texas Medical Center Orchestra, Houston TX
for these recorded performances:

    Bernstein—Candide Overture
    Ron Nelson—Savannah River Holiday
    Grofe—Mississippi Suite

Texas Medical Center Orchestra

Libi Lebel, conductor
Established in November 2000, Texas Medical Center Orchestra (TMCO) is one of very few community orchestras in the United States and the world with its origin in the health professions. It includes physicians, dentists, nurses, medical students, biomedical scientists, social workers and other allied health professionals who are dedicated to making music. Part of the orchestra’s mission is to provide health care professionals a creative outlet; offer affordable concerts to a diverse public audience; and bring public attention and support for, medically related and/or educational charities.

Russian-born conductor Libi Lebel, founder and artistic director of TMCO, has a strong and growing reputation in the music world. Ms. Lebel has been listed as one of the 50 most influential women in Houston, (population over 2 million). She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Julliard School of Music and Westminster Choir College, in piano performance and conducting. Conducting appearances in New Jersey, New York, Texas, Russia and Romania have been met with high praise. In 2013, conductor Lebel led the TMCO in a well-received program at Carnegie Hall. As to her passion about music, Ms. Lebel says: “What inspires me is to make music come alive. To feel the love, pride, joy, sadness. To help it unfold in the most convincing and compelling way. With it, we connect to the very essence of our humanity, we then come into contact with that part of ourselves that expresses our most profound creativity. I am so lucky to have music in my life.”

Kathryn Bowers, conductor, and the Oratorio Society of Estes Park, Estes Park, CO 
    Jerry Brubaker—Rocky Mountain Majesty 

Kathryn Bowers, conductor, and the Oratorio Society of Estes Park
Kathryn Bowers was appointed Artistic/Music Director of the Oratorio Society of Estes Park in the spring of 2012. A professor emerita of Webster University in Saint Louis, she headed the choral, music education, and church music areas and continues in retirement as an online adjunct professor. Early in her career she performed with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and the Gächinger Kantorei in Stuttgart, as well as with well-known choirs in the London area. Now semi-retired, in addition to conducting OSEP, her musical activities include composing, piano accompanying, singing in a chamber choir, and playing the recorder and viola. Her BMED, MA, and DMA degrees are from Northwestern University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Illinois-Urbana respectively. Her conducting teachers have included Margaret Hillis, Paul Vermel, and Milko Kolarov.

The Oratorio Society of Estes Park (OSEP), along with the Estes Park Chamber Orchestra, was organized in December 1987 by Connie and Gary Elting and by Merritt and Laura Martin. Its first appearance was for a sing-along session of Handel’s Messiah. Since then OSEP’s conductors have introduced and led this organization of volunteer musicians from the Estes Valley to successfully perform a large variety of major classical works for chorus and orchestra, most recently including Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, the Spring section of Haydn’s The Seasons, Beethoven’s Mass in C and Choral Fantasy, Berlioz’s The Childhood of Christ, Bizet’s two L’Arlesienne Suites, and Randall Thompson’s Nativity according to Saint Luke. For the 100th Anniversary of Rocky Mountain National Park in 2015, OSEP commissioned new works from Robert Charles Howard and Jerry Brubaker.

Jerry Brubaker is an exclusive composer and arranger for Alfred Publishing Co. Inc. and has published over 300 works for band, symphony orchestra, and chorus. A native of Altoona, Pennsylvania, Jerry has a Bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music and a Master of Music from The Catholic University of America. Mr. Brubaker served for 30 years in the United States Navy Band in Washington, DC, as a French horn soloist and composer/arranger.  He became Chief Arranger in 1985 and held that position until his retirement from the Navy in 1998. Most recently Jerry has been a member of the Estes Park Chamber Orchestra, the Village Band of Estes Park (CO) and the Virginia Grand Military Band. He is President of The Association of Concert Bands. Three Rivers Rhapsody, Jerry’s newest composition will receive its premier on April 2, 2016, in Pittsburgh, PA.

Peter Wilson, music director, and the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra, Waynesboro, VA
    Copland—Lincoln Portrait

Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra

Peter Wilson, music director
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.

Music Director, Dr. Peter Wilson, an engaging and multifaceted violinist and conductor whose musicianship has been noted as “first-class” by The Washington Post. He has served as Music Director of the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra since 2007 and was appointed Music Director of the Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra in 2013. The String Section Commander for “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, he has performed as a violinist of The White House for over a quarter century. Highly respected throughout the National Capital Region, he is also Concertmaster of the American Festival Pops Orchestra, has guest conducted the National Symphony Orchestra and National Gallery Orchestra, and serves on the faculties of James Madison University and George Mason University as an adjunct instructor of violin. He holds music degrees from Northwestern University and The Catholic University of America where he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts.


The American Prize winner:
Wes Kenney, conductor, and the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, Denver CO
for this recorded performance:    

    Copland—Billy the Kid Suite

Denver Young Artists Orchestra

Wes Kenney, conductor
The Denver Young Artists Orchestra (DYAO) was formed in 1977 under the auspices of the Denver Symphony Orchestra, now the Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO).  It was started as a means for Colorado’s most talented young musicians to rehearse and perform together under demanding professional standards. DYAO has operated independently since 1979, and has maintained a close relationship with the CSO.

The mission of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra Association (DYAO) is to provide the finest possible youth orchestra programs, inspiring and educating young musicians through the performance of great works of music, and offering valuable cultural opportunities to the community. For thirty-eight years, DYAO has nurtured the talents of the Rocky Mountain region’s finest young musicians as an integral part of their musical education. Today, the organization’s five orchestras train nearly 250 students ages seven to twenty-three annually.

Wes Kenney in now in his third season with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra and now is preparing the YAO for appearances in Carnegie Hall in June 2016. The 2007 Grand Prize Winner of the Varna (Bulgaria) International Conducting Competition, later in August he will start his 13th season as Music Director of the Fort Collins (Colorado) Symphony and Director of Orchestras at Colorado State University. Named in 2004 to an additional post as Music Director of Opera Fort Collins, he currently conducts three professional operatic productions as well as numerous orchestra concerts and dance performances each season throughout Northern Colorado. Mr. Kenney’s recent guest conducting activities include the Denver Philharmonic, Colorado Symphony, Colorado Music Festival, Acadiana Symphony (LA), Lafayette (IN) Symphony, and New Mexico All-State. Next July he will travel to Korea for the first time to conduct the Changwon Philharmonic. He has also conducted the Alabama All-State Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Virginia Symphony, Alabama Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, and Richmond Symphony. Other international guest conducting includes performances with the Vidin State Philharmonic and Stara Zagora Opera Company in Bulgaria as well as the Edinburgh (Scotland) Music Festival.

2nd Place:
Orlando Cela, conductor, and the NC Governor's School Orchestra, Winston-Salem NC
for these recorded performances:

   Ken Ueno—On the Condition for the Existence of Most Specific Hypothesis
   Libby Larsen—What the Monster Saw
   Ives—Three Places in New England, Putnam’s Camp, Redding, Connecticut
   Ives—The Fourth of July
   Dulaney—The Old Harp, version 3
   John Luther Adams—Dark Waves
   Armando Bayolo—A Shelter that Filters the Sun

Orlando Cela, conductor, and the NC Governor's School Orchestra
Recently appointed music director of the Arlington Philharmonic (MA), Orlando Cela’s experience includes launching the orchestral department at Ningbo University in China and conducting the inaugural concert of the Ningbo City Symphony Orchestra. In the US, his conducting positions include work with orchestras and choruses at Randolph College (VA), and UMass Dartmouth (MA). Guest conducting credits include the Marquette Symphony Orchestra (MI), the Northern Michigan State University Orchestra (MI), Brandeis New Music Ensemble (MA).  He is currently the music director and conductor of the orchestra of the Governor’s School of North Carolina, with which he has performed world and American premieres by composers like Salvatore Sciarrino, Chen Yi, Hector Parra, Rebecca Saunders, Alwynne Pritchard, and many others.

The focus of Instrumental Music at Governor's School West is the study and performance of important music of our time for full orchestra and smaller ensembles, and the creation and performance of student works. These are all chosen to "open windows onto the future," the goal of the Governor's School curriculum as a whole. The orchestra and ensemble rehearsals are devoted not only to the preparation of the work for performance, but also to the development of an understanding of the concepts behind the pieces. Several class periods per week are devoted to lecture/discussions called "Context" – placing the music into a context of a broader understanding of 20th-21st-century musical thought and making meaningful connections with similar concepts in other disciplines. The orchestra repertoire that is studied and performed is all 20th-21st-century, and ranges from the relatively accessible styles of Holst, Copland, and Britten to the aesthetic and technical challenges of Lutoslawski, Tan Dun, Cage, Berio, Pärt, and Reich. These pieces are selected not only with the student's technical abilities in mind, but primarily as models of contrasting theories of 20th-century composition appropriate for study by the orchestra and the entire student body. Orchestra students respond with enthusiasm to the variety of repertoire, producing notable performances for high-school players.

Ron Polomchak, conductor and the Schaumburg Youth Concert Orchestra, Schaumburg, IL
    Ron Nelson—Jubilee
    Copland—Fanfare for the Common Man
    Richard Meyer—An American Rhapsody

Ron Polomchak, conductor and the Schaumburg Youth Concert Orchestra
The Schaumburg Youth Orchestra (SYO) was founded in 1989 as a recreational and educational outlet for young advanced musicians in the Schaumburg, Illinois area. Originating as a string ensemble with 16 members, the orchestra made its public debut with a concert performance at Schaumburg's 1989 Prairie Arts Festival. Current registration is over 200, with members from Schaumburg and over thirty outlying communities. The program enrolls new and returning members by audition at the beginning summer. The orchestras exist to supplement the students' curricular training, as all members are required to participate in their school orchestra or band program. Each of the orchestras performs two concerts annually at the Prairie Center for the Arts.  The Schaumburg Youth CONCERT Orchestra is the second tier ensemble that includes string, woodwind, brass and percussion students. The music literature is selected from authentic and developing full orchestra repertoire.

Ron Polomchak has been part of the Schaumburg Youth Orchestras since 2012.  After one season conducting the Sinfonia String ensemble, Mr. Polomchak began conducting the Schaumburg Youth Concert Orchestra.  Since 1995, Mr. Polomchak has directed the orchestra program at Lake Zurich Middle School South in Illinois School District 95.  Mr. Polomchak has also served as an orchestra conductor at the Blue Lake International Fine Arts Camp in Michigan.


Congratulations to all 2016 Laureates of The American Prize Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music.

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