Monday, February 27, 2017

COMPOSER WINNERS: chamber music (student division)

The American Prize is honored to announce the winners,  runners-up, citation recipient and honorable mentions of The American Prize in Composition, 2016, Chamber Music, in the student division. Congratulations!

"Taken as a whole, these are hardly 'students' (except in the sense that we all always are), these are exceptional composers, regardless of their age or degree status. They deserve to be listed specially, for the variety and excellence of their achievements."—DK

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.

QUICKNOTES: Although The American Prize does not usually provide written evaluations to semi-finalists, some semi-finalist composers will receive in their certificate packets short comments, suggestions or overall impressions made during the judging. We hope they will prove valuable. All finalists receive written evaluations from a member of The American Prize judging panel.

Please make us aware of any misprints:

The American Prize in Composition—Chamber (student division)

The American Prize winner:
Lara Poe    Chestnut Hill MA
    Divergence—for string quartet

Lara Poe
Finnish-American composer Lara Poe, currently based in London, has had performances in the US and Europe, with performers such as the JACK quartet, Aija Reke, the Liminka Music Weeks string orchestra, the Tampere Filharmonia and the New England Conservatory Preparatory School Piano Seminar students. She is currently studying with Kenneth Hesketh at the Royal College of Music, London, as an RCM Award Holder supported by the Doctor Knobel Fund in the MMus degree program.

Poe received a Bachelor of Music degree from Boston University in 2016 where she studied composition with Alex Mincek, Joshua Fineberg, Martin Amlin, Ketty Nez, Richard Cornell, and with Kenneth Hesketh, while studying abroad at the Royal College of Music. Before Boston University, she studied at New England Conservatory Preparatory School with Rodney Lister as well. While pursuing composition, Lara has also studied piano, with Nigel Clayton (RCM), Linda Jiorle-Nagy, Edna Stern, Sergey Schepkin, Bertica Shulman-Cramer, Melanie Almiron and Vanessa Morris.

At Boston University, Poe received the Wainwright and Department of Theory and Composition awards, and was also nominated for Pi Kappa Lambda. She has been a finalist for the BMI student composition competition, and has been a finalist for the Morton Gould Young Composer Awards twice. She was also a co-winner of the UMass Lowell Chapter, National Music Conference, and has received an Honorable Mention in the Ithaca Women’s Works composition competition as well.  Poe’s current projects include a violin concerto for Aija Reke and the Hancock Cantata orchestra, which will be premiered in Lexington, near Boston, MA. She is also working on a variety of smaller chamber music projects and a couple of solo pieces for colleagues at the RCM.

2nd Place (there was a tie):
Yihan Chen    Planifield IN
    spirits-river: a piano sonata

Yihan Chen
Chen Yihan was born in Changzhou, China. He is a recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award as well as the IU Jacobs School of Music Dean’s Prize. His “Solemn Rites - Daqu for Orchestra No. 1” was performed by the Symphony Orchestra of the National Opera House in Beijing, China in October, 2015. His work for SATB choir “Shui Guang Lian Yan” (Ripples Glisten Away...) was included in “Half Moon Rising”, an anthology of Chinese choral music published by Edition Peters, and was premiered by Cantoría Hong Kong in the Hong Kong City Hall in 2015.

Chen Yihan is currently pursuing bachelor’s degrees in music composition and piano performance at Jacobs School of Music, studying composition with Claude Baker and piano with Arnaldo Cohen. His principle composition teachers also include Sven-David Sandström, Don Freund, P.Q. Phan, and Aaron Travers.

2nd Place (there was a tie):
Ian Evans Guthrie    Fort Worth TX
    Journey Through Cascadia—for mezzo-soprano and piano

Ian Evans Guthrie
Ian Guthrie blends Western concert music with various world musics. He recently received 3rd prize in the National MTNA Composers Competition and has received other prizes and recognition from the Society of Composers, ASCAP, the Webster Young Composers Competition, and the WSMTA Young Composers competition. In addition, many of his works have been performed publicly around the nation from groups such as fEARnoMUSIC, Portland’s Metropolitan Youth Symphony, the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, the Moore Philharmonic Orchestra, March Music Moderne, the Atlantic Music Festival, the Charlotte New Music Festival, the Clear Creek Music Festival, the Oregon Bach Festival, and the 2014 Pierrot Lunaire Project. His latest commissioned works include Farallonier for alto saxophone and The Conqueror Worm for mixed chorus. He has served on various committees, including the Society of Composers, Inc., where he is the 2015-16 Region VI Student Representative.

3rd Place:
Daniel Despins    Wilmington DE
    Medusa—for wind quintet

Daniel Despins
Daniel Despins (b. 1994) is a composer of contemporary classical music flavored with many different styles, including jazz, rock, folk, and traditional music, with strong influences from neo-Romantic music of the 20th and 21st centuries. He has written for choral, instrumental, and chamber ensembles, as well as duets and smaller works for solo voices and instruments. He currently resides in Newark, Delaware, where he studies music composition at the University of Delaware under the guidance of Dr. Jennifer Barker. His works have been performed both throughout the university’s campus and in communities throughout New Castle County. His music can be found online at

JUDGE'S CITATION: "Creating a unique, sustained sound world"
Joshua Hey    Philadelphia PA
    fissu/|rupT/t|eaR—for electric guitar

Joshua Hey
Joshua Hey is a Philadelphia-based composer pursuing a Ph.D. as an Andrew W. Mellon fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. He has worked with the PRISM Quartet, Omaha Symphony, Daedalus Quartet, Uusinta Ensemble (FIN), Eastman Sinfonietta, LAPS (BEL), Icon Arts ensemble (ROU), University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Orchestra, UMKC Chorale and Nicholas Isherwood, among others. Additional studies include workshops and festivals such as June in Buffalo (USA), Etchings (FRA), Ars Musica (BEL), American Conservatory in Fontainebleau (FRA), Composit (ITA) and the “New Music New Media” Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme (GBR). For the 2014-15 academic year, he was a visiting scholar at the Sibelius Academy and University of Helsinki with a Jane and Aatos Erkko fellowship from the the American-Scandinavian Foundation.

Dana Kaufman   Miami FL  
    Halcyon Disquiet—for flute, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, electric guitar and violin
Dana Kaufman
The works of Dana Kaufman (b. 1989) have been heard throughout North America, and in Estonia, the Czech Republic and Italy. The recipient of numerous awards, Ms. Kaufman’s music has been featured at Estonian Music Days, Centro Musica Contemporanea di Milano, Charlotte New Music Festival, Ravinia Festival, Music Institute of Chicago, Peoria Civic Center, Jordan Hall, North American Jewish Choral Festival and 2015 Women Composers Festival of Hartford; it has been performed/recorded by groups including Great Noise Ensemble, Atlantic Music Festival Contemporary Ensemble, a very small consortium, Firebird Ensemble, Wet Ink Ensemble and Sō Percussion. After returning from Estonia as an ethnomusicology/composition Fulbright Fellow, Ms. Kaufman completed her MM in Composition at New England Conservatory (Academic Honors; Pi Kappa Lambda nominee). She is currently pursuing her DMA at University of Miami Frost School of Music, where she is the first Frost School of Music student to be a Dean’s Fellow. 

Joungmin Lee    Columbus OH
    Vexatious—for string quartet

Joungmin Lee
Joungmin Lee’s music has been performed in the US, Europe, Canada, and Asia. He is a Gold & Silver Medal Winner of Global Music Awards for his string quartet ‘Vexatious’ and electro-acoustic piece ‘Heterogeneous’. They have been published by ABLAZE Records on Hong Kong New Music Ensemble Live from Prague Vol. 1 and Electronic Masters Vol. 5 disc which includes his award-winning work. Moreover, the ‘Vexatious’ will be also published by Editro Sconfinarte and 31st volume of the SCI CD Series as a winner. Also, he is a special invited guest to present a lecture presentation at the 2017 SCI Region IV Student Conference at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Music. Lee's work has been recognized by numerous competitions and “Call for Scores”, including Salvatore Martirano Memorial Composition Award in US, Florence String Quartet Competition in Italy, Valencia International Performance Academy & Festival in Spain, IV Rieti Elettroacustica Festival in France, the Soundstreams Emerging Composer Workshop in Canada, Hong Kong New Music Ensemble in Prague & Macau, Chang-Ak Contemporary Music Society Composition Competition in Korea, SIME International Electroacoustic Music Competition in France, SEAMUS in US, Musinfo Opus-centrum in France, Bozzini_Lab Montreal Workshop in Canada, Cicada Consort in US, National Student Electronic Music Event('16, '17) in US, Radio Transmission Art Pieces (New York 90.7-FM) in US, Busan International Modern Dance Festival in Korea, and SCI Region Conferences, among many others. Additionally, Joungmin's music has been featured by the JACK Quartet, PARMA Recordings LLC, Ascanio Quartet, Transient Canvas, the Midwest Composers Symposium, UI Dance and International Writing Program Collaboration, University of Iowa Center for New Music, Louisiana State University SoM Recital Hall, St. Cloud State University Listening Room - PAC 158, University of Kansas Murphy Hall, The University of Oklahoma Catlett Music Center, University of Alabama Moody Concert Hall and Recital Hall, Otterbein University Snapshot Conference, University of Texas at Arlington Irons Recital Hall, and Seoul Arts Center. Currently he is pursuing the DMA composition at The Ohio State University with Dr. Thomas Wells. He holds degrees from New York University (M.Mus in music technology). Joungmin has studied with David Gompper, Josh Levine, Bryan Haaheim, Hyunsook Choi, and Dafna Naphtali, in addition to private studies Elainie Lillios. 

Sangwon Lee    Champaign IL
    String Quartet No. 1
Sangwon Lee
Sangwon Lee, born in Korea, holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Keimyung University in Korea and received his Master of Music degree from New England Conservatory in Boston. Sangwon is currently pursuing his Doctorate Music Arts at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where he took classes in advanced studio techniques with Professor Scott A. Wyatt. Lee has won numerous international awards and honors for his compositions including EACA International Composition Competition (Japan), JURGENSON International Composition Competition (Russia), Frederic Mompou International Award (Spain), “2 Agosto” International Composition Competition (Italy), Destellos International Electroacoustic Music Composition Competition 2016 (Argentina), etc. His works have been performed and broadcasted in Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Belgium, Brazil, U.S. and South Korea. He has been invited as one of the presenting composers from 2016 Contemporanea Nuova Musica in Udine (Italy), the Matera Intermedia Festival 2016 – digital art festival (Italy), MUSLAB 2016 International Festival of Electroacoustic Music (Brazil), NSEME 2017 (the National Student Electronic Music Event), and the SEAMUS (the Society of Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States) 2017 National Conference. 

Christopher Lowry    Antioch TN    
    Romanza—for four violas
    Livewire!—for flute, clarinet, and horn
Christopher Lowry
Nashville native Christopher Lowry is emerging as one of the leading violists and most performed composers of his generation. His music has been performed by the Nashville Symphony, Nashville Philharmonic, Imperial Symphony, Austin Peay State University Symphony, Middle TN State University Symphony, Vanderbilt Wind Symphony, Blair Chamber Choir, “The President’s Own” US Marine Band, members of the Taipei Symphony and Seoul Philharmonic, New York All-State String Orchestra, Plainview Old-Bethpage JFK High School String Orchestra, and many youth orchestras from around the country. Lowry has won awards in the Alabama Symphony Call for Scores, BandWidth Music Festival Call for Scores, Missouri Composers Orchestra Project Competition, World Projects Composition Competition, NAfME Composition Competition, Frank Van Der Stucken Award, Nashville Philharmonic Composition Competition, Anton Stadler International Basset Clarinet Composition Competition, among others. Lowry holds a BM degree from Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music and a MM degree from LSU, where he is currently working towards his DMA. 

Aaron Mencher    Johns Creek GA
    Fast-Forward—for the Deviant Septet

Aaron Mencher
Aaron Mencher is a composer that has done a variety of work ranging from contemporary classical music to film scores to incidental music. In February, the Deviant Septet recorded his piece Fast-Forward. Also, he recently finished scoring the film Maggephah directed by Brad McGaughey.

Aaron’s New for Wind Ensemble won the 2015 NAfME Student Composers Competition. This piece was premiered by the All-National Concert Band. It is now distributed through Murphy Music Press. In The Forest won the 2014 Third Millennium Ensemble Prize Pre-College Division. Until 2015, he was the composer for The Dancing Goat Theater for many shows including A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night. He is currently attending University of Missouri on a full tuition music composition scholarship where he is studying under Stephen Freund and William Lackey. More information about Aaron and his music can be found at


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