Monday, December 31, 2018

FINALISTS: piano performance (concerto), 2018-19, The Lorin Hollander Award


Lorin Hollander


The American Prize is pleased to announce FINALIST pianists for 2018-19 in the CONCERTO division, The LORIN HOLLANDER AWARD. Congratulations! As the contests unfold, runners-up and winners will be selected from this list. To know the exact date when winners will be announced, please like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter #AmericanPrize, where that information will be published first.

The American Prize LORIN HOLLANDER AWARD celebrates the artistry of one of the greatest pianists of his generation. Lorin Hollander has appeared as guest soloist with virtually every major symphony orchestra in the world and is a veteran of over 2,500 performances across the globe. The American Prize is delighted to share the legacy of this legendary artist through the re-naming of the award for Piano Concerto Performance in his honor.
For more about the extraordinary life and career of Lorin Hollander, please visit http://lorinhollander.com/

If you are not a finalist this year, please remember that the contests are not yet over. The American Prize reserves the right to award Honorable Mentions and Citations for Special Achievement to any contestant, regardless of final placement. TAP has honored a number of semi-finalists and quarter finalists in the past--to recognize a unique talent or focus, unusual repertoire, vital programming or outreach. Citations and Honorable Mentions are usually awarded at the same time as winners and runners-up, but can be presented at any time up to the last winners' announcement of the contest year.

All contestants are reminded they are responsible for the viability of their online links to audition materials. Those links must remain active until the end of the contest year. Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email: theamericanprize@gmail.com

We invite finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on their facebook page, tweeting the news, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog. A sample announcement may be found at the end of the post.


FINALISTS: The American Prize in Piano Performance, concerto, The Lorin Hollander Award, 2018-19
—professional division


Yoon Lee
New York NY 
Mozart Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488

Yi-Yang Chen
Johnson City TN 
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4

Tzu-Yin Huang
Ann Arbor MI 
Samuel Barber Piano Concerto



FINALISTS: The American Prize in Piano Performance, concerto, The Lorin Hollander Award, 2018-19
—college/university division


Aoshuang Li
Beijing China
Stravinsky Concerto for Piano and Winds
 
Daniel Richardson
Danville CA 
Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat

Tomasz Robak
Baltimore MD 
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4




FINALISTS: The American Prize in Piano Performance, concerto, The Lorin Hollander Award, 2018-19
—high school division


Michael McClure
Kenmore NY 
Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor

Joey Zhu
San Ramon CA 
Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor


***

Finalists are encouraged to make the most of their selection by announcing it on social media and by including a link to this announcement on your website or blog.

Here is a sample announcement:

"Great News! I've just been selected as a FINALIST in the (blank) division of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts. Here's the link: (copy link here). The American Prize will be announcing WINNERS in my division soon. You can learn more about this prestigious national competition here: www.theamericanprize.org or follow the news on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-American-Prize-celebrating-American-excellence-in-the-arts/214320622728 or Twitter: https://twitter.com/americanprize "

Please feel free to modify or expand this announcement to suit your needs.

Congratulations to all finalists!




Saturday, December 29, 2018

SEMI-FINALISTS: composers—opera/theater/film/dance, 2018-19

The American Prize is pleased to announce SEMI-FINALIST composers in the OPERA/THEATER/FILM/DANCE divisions, 2018-19. Congratulations!

As the contests unfold, finalists, runners-up and winners will be selected from this list. To know the exact date when finalists will be announced, please like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter #AmericanPrize, where that information will be published first.

All contestants are reminded they are responsible for the viability of their online links to audition materials. Those links must remain active until the end of the contest year. Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email: theamericanprize@gmail.com

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on their facebook page, tweeting the news, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog. A sample announcement may be found at the end of the post.

Please make us aware of any misprints in the listings below by emailing: theamericanprize@gmail.com

The American Prize in Composition—OPERA/THEATER/FILM/DANCE, professional division, 2018-19

John G. Bilotta
Concord CA
Rosetta's Stone  
  
Gregg Brandalise
Poway CA
Love is the Answer        

Jenni Brandon
Long Beach CA
Three Paderewskis      

Roger Cichy
Scituate RI
Journey Home to the USS Arizona    
   
Scott Hargis
Chicago IL
Primary  
   
Austin Jaquith
Cedarville OH
Dracula Bloodlines      

Alden Jenks
Oakland CA
Letter from Linda  
   
Eva Conley Kendrick
Millis MA
Wish You Were Here  
  
Evan Mack
Albany NY
The Ghosts of Gatsby  
   
Patricia Elizabeth Martinez
Buenos Aires Argentina
Short Sleep/Breve Sueño  
   
Eric Sawyer
Amherst MA
The Scarlet Professor      

Tony Solitro
Philadelphia PA
Triangle  
   
Ludwig Tuman
Oxnard CA
Lord of the Cranes; Cat's Protector; The Happy Man's Shirt  
  
William Vollinger
Woodcliff Lake NJ
Let's Talk  


The American Prize in Composition—OPERA/THEATER/FILM/DANCE, student division, 2018-19

Joshua Baerwald
Milwaukee WI
The Process    
   
Jennifer Barker
Newark DE
Waulking in the Glen        

Madeline Merwin
Traverse City MI
Ceilings Made of Glass; Over the Top    

   
Yuxin Ouyang
Durham NC
Trajectory             


***

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on their facebook page, tweeting the news, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog.

Here is a sample announcement:

"Great News! I've just been selected as a semi-finalist in the (blank) division of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts. Here's the link: (copy link here). The American Prize will be announcing finalists in my division soon. You can learn more about this prestigious national competition here: www.theamericanprize.org or follow the news on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-American-Prize-celebrating-American-excellence-in-the-arts/214320622728 or Twitter: https://twitter.com/americanprize "

Please feel free to modify or expand this announcement to suit your needs.

Congratulations to all semi-finalists.



Wednesday, December 19, 2018

SEMI-FINALISTS: pops composers, 2018-19 (revised)

This listing was revised 1/20/19 by moving one applicant to the proper category.—DK 

The American Prize is pleased to announce 2018-19 SEMI-FINALIST composers in the pops / light music division. Congratulations!

As the contests unfold, finalists, runners-up and winners will be selected from this list. To know the exact date when finalists will be announced, please like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter #AmericanPrize, where that information will be published first.

All contestants are reminded they are responsible for the viability of their online links to audition materials. Those links must remain active until the end of the contest year. Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email: theamericanprize@gmail.com

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on their facebook page, tweeting the news, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog. A sample announcement may be found at the end of the post.


The American Prize in Composition—Pops / Light Music

Rick Bogart
New York NY
Concerto for Jazz Clarinet and Orchestra  
   
Conor Brace
Round Rock TX
Gettysburg  
   
Joseph Church
New York NY
The Tortoise and the Two Ducks  
  
M.L. Daniels
Georgetown TX
"Show Off"  
  
Carlo V. Frizzo
Bloomington IN
Chickasaw Cobb       

Gerald Gurss
Charlotte NC
Stand Up

Ander Del La Fuente Ibarreche
Syracuse NY
Elkarrekin Gaudela; El Crisol De Los Metales; El Himno Del Humor  
   
Robert Wendel
New York NY
Caribbean Sleigh Ride  


***

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on their facebook page, tweeting the news, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog.

Here is a sample announcement:

"Great News! I've just been selected as a semi-finalist in the (blank) division of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts. Here's the link: (copy link here). The American Prize will be announcing finalists in my division soon. You can learn more about this prestigious national competition here: www.theamericanprize.org or follow the news on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-American-Prize-celebrating-American-excellence-in-the-arts/214320622728 or Twitter: https://twitter.com/americanprize "

Please feel free to modify or expand this announcement to suit your needs.

Congratulations to all semi-finalists.

Monday, December 17, 2018

SEMI-FINALISTS: band composers, 2018-19

The American Prize is pleased to announce 2018-19 SEMI-FINALIST composers for band / wind ensemble in both professional and student divisions. Congratulations!

As the contests unfold, finalists, runners-up and winners will be selected from this list. To know the exact date when finalists will be announced, please like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter #AmericanPrize, where that information will be published first.

All contestants are reminded they are responsible for the viability of their online links to audition materials. Those links must remain active until the end of the contest year. Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email: theamericanprize@gmail.com

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on their facebook page, tweeting the news, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog. A sample announcement may be found at the end of the post.

Please make us aware of any misprints in the listings below by emailing: theamericanprize@gmail.com


The American Prize in Composition—Band / Wind Ensemble (professional division)

Mark Andrew Cook
Hagerstown MD
Dawn at Fox Gap: Symphony for Wind Ensemble
  
Greg Danner
Cookeville TN
Euphonium Concerto 
 
Dante De Silva
Tarzana CA
Kill Switch 
  
Gregory Fritze
Daytona Beach Shores FL
Variaciones Sinfonicas, Continental Concerto 
  
Jonathan Graybill
Willow Street PA
Stone & Twilight 
  
Quincy C. Hilliard
Lafayette LA
Kojiki 
 
Ted King-Smith
Mission KS
Between Glimpses of Blue 
  
Christopher Lowry
Antioch TN
Bicentennial Variations 
 
Andrew David Perkins
Fenton MI
ASYLUM 
  
David P. Sartor
Hermitage TN
THE SAINTS OF SEWANEE 
 
Chris Shelton
Norwood MA
A Winter Storm in Old New England 
  
Joseph T. Spaniola
Pensacola FL
Blow, Eastern Winds 
  
Geoffrey Stanton
Ann Arbor MI
Green Blade Rising 
 
Larry Tuttle
Van Nuys CA
Across the Divide 



The American Prize in Composition—Band / Wind Ensemble (student division)

Keith Allegretti
Austin TX
Petrichor 
 
Brent A. Morden
Bayside NY
Concertino; Danzon 
 
Daniel Morel
Kansas City MO
Flares/Flutters Fanfares 
 
Celka Ojakangas
Los Angeles CA
Bonehead Fizzix 
  
Marat Sanatullov
Seward NE
Through my eyes: One immigrant's story 


***

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on their facebook page, tweeting the news, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog.

Here is a sample announcement:

"Great News! I've just been selected as a semi-finalist in the (blank) division of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts. Here's the link: (copy link here). The American Prize will be announcing finalists in my division soon. You can learn more about this prestigious national competition here: www.theamericanprize.org or follow the news on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-American-Prize-celebrating-American-excellence-in-the-arts/214320622728 or Twitter: https://twitter.com/americanprize "

Please feel free to modify or expand this announcement to suit your needs.

Congratulations to all semi-finalists.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

SEMI-FINALISTS: Women in Opera, 2018-19

Friedrich Schorr as Wotan
This listing was revised on 12/21/18 to include semi-finalists in the high school division (see below.) — DK

The American Prize is pleased to announce SEMI-FINALIST women in opera and operetta for 2018-19, The FRIEDRICH and VIRGINIA SCHORR MEMORIAL AWARD in VOICE. Congratulations! (Be sure to check all divisions. The American Prize may have moved an audition to a more appropriate category.) As the contests unfold, finalists, runners-up and winners will be selected from this list. To know the exact date when finalists will be announced, please like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter #AmericanPrize, where that information will be published first. Semi-finalist women in art song/oratorio was published separately.

All contestants are reminded they are responsible for the viability of their online links to audition materials. Those links must remain active until the end of the contest year. Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email: theamericanprize@gmail.com

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on their facebook page, tweeting the news, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog. A sample announcement may be found at the end of the post.


The American Prize in Voice / Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award—opera & operetta, professional division (women),  2018-19

Karen Archbold
Glen Ellyn IL  
   
Lauren Auge
Kansas City MO  
   
Elizabeth Bivens-Logan
Lindenhurst IL  
   
Emily Yocum Black
Paducah KY  
   
Rachel Blaustein
Olney MD  
   
Taylor Hillary Boykins
Pontiac MI  
   
Carolyne Dalmonte
San Diego CA  
   
Frances Fenton
Houston TX  
   
Elena Galvan
Ithaca NY  
   
Youna Hartgraves
Carrollton TX  
   
Alexandra Jerinic
San Francisco CA  
   
Laura Kay
New York NY  
   
Kirsten C. Kunkle
Wilmington DE  
   
Keesun Kwon
Baltimore MD  

Susanna R. Lauer
Washington DC  
   
Abigail Levis
Claremont CA  
   
Meredith Mecum
Bronx NY  
   
Jacqueline Piccolino
Chicago IL  
   
Max Potter
Weehawken NJ  
   
Leandra Ramm
Pittsburg CA  
  
Dana Lynne Varga
Brighton MA  
   
Congcong Wang
Sunnyvale CA  

 
The American Prize in Voice / Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award—opera & operetta, college/university division (women),  2018-19

Elizabeth Barry
Grand Rapids MI  
   
Zarah Brock
Fredericksburg VA  
   
Alyce Daubenspeck
Nazareth PA  
   
Clare Demer
Tucson AZ  
       
Keely Futterer
Dover AR  
   
Hei Lee Law
Brighton MA  
   
Victoria Lawal
Los Angeles CA  
   
Shaina Martinez
Germantown MD  
   
Sophia Mintas
Greensburg PA  
   
Sarah Clementine Mire
Lubbock TX  
   
Samantha Noonan
Lincoln NE  
   
Therese Pircon
Macomb IL  
   
Michelle Ravitsky
San Antonio TX

Luisa Kay Reyes
Tuscaloosa AL

Rebecca Sacks
Athens GA  
   
Lani Stait
Chicago IL  
   
Kristen Sullivan
Denton TX  
   
Julia Claire Taylor
Coronado CA     

The American Prize in Voice / Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award—opera & operetta, high school division (women),  2018-19

Rebecca Clark
West Hartford  CT

Alina Dong
Houston TX

Alea Vernon
Cheshire CT


***

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on their facebook page, tweeting the news, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog.

Here is a sample announcement:

"Great News! I've just been selected as a semi-finalist in the (blank) division of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts. Here's the link: (copy link here). The American Prize will be announcing finalists in my division soon. You can learn more about this prestigious national competition here: www.theamericanprize.org or follow the news on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-American-Prize-celebrating-American-excellence-in-the-arts/214320622728 or Twitter: https://twitter.com/americanprize "

Please feel free to modify or expand this announcement to suit your needs.

Congratulations to all semi-finalists.






Saturday, December 1, 2018

SEMI-FINALISTS: Women in Art Song & Oratorio, 2018-19

Friedrich Schorr as Wotan
This listing was updated on 12/6/18 to include the name of an additional applicant transferred from the opera competition.—DK

The American Prize is pleased to announce SEMI-FINALIST women in art song & oratorio for 2018-19, The FRIEDRICH and VIRGINIA SCHORR MEMORIAL AWARD in VOICE. Congratulations! (Be sure to check all divisions. The American Prize may have moved an audition to a more appropriate category.) As the contests unfold, finalists, runners-up and winners will be selected from this list. To know the exact date when finalists will be announced, please like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter #AmericanPrize, where that information will be published first. Semi-finalist women in opera will be published separately.

All contestants are reminded they are responsible for the viability of their online links to audition materials. Those links must remain active until the end of the contest year. Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email: theamericanprize@gmail.com

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on social media and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog. A sample announcement may be found at the end of the post.


The American Prize in Voice / Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award—art song/oratorio, professional division (women),  2018-19

Lauren Auge
Kansas City MO  
   
Katherine Beck
Denver CO  
   
Elizabeth Ann Benson
Auburn AL  
   
Emily Yocum Black
Paducah KY  
   
Johanna Bronk
Newton MA  
   
Diana Cantrelle
Columbia MD  
   
Jaely Chamberlain
Centreville VA  
   
Megan Elizabeth Cook
Chicago IL  
   
Ann Belluso Cravero
West Des Moines IA  
  
Donata Cucinotta
Seymour IN  
   
Carolyne Dalmonte
San Diego CA  
   
Joan Marie Dauber
Chicago IL  
   
Frances Fenton
Houston TX  
   
Olga Perez Flora
Reno NV  
   
Sarah Hawkey
Brooklyn NY
   
Melanie Helton
East Lansing MI
   
Anna Christine Hersey
Oshkosh WI  
   
Alexandra Jerinic
San Francisco CA  
   
Laura Kay
New York NY  
  
Melissa Kornacki
Damascus MD
   
Ewa Kowcz-Fair
Chicago IL
   
Kirsten C. Kunkle
Wilmington DE  
   
Kim Leeds
Lincoln MA  
   
Alice Anne Light
Kansas City MO  
   
Brittany Michaelsen-Mulkey
Cedar Park TX  
   
Valeria Sokolova Ore
Las Vegas NV
  
Leandra Ramm
Pittsburg CA  
   
Alissa Rose
Westboro PA  
   
Penelope Shumate
Macomb IL  
   
Emma Sorenson
Chicago IL  
   
Emily Sternfeld-Dunn
Wichita KS  
   
Letitia Stevens
Walden MA  
   
Christine Steyer
Oak Park IL  
   
Anna Tonna
Bronx NY  
   
Melissa Treinkman
Venice CA  
   
Nicole Van Every
Norman OK  
   
Jamie Van Eyck
Waco TX  
   
Dana Lynne Varga
Brighton MA  
   
Katie Walders
La Mesa CA  
   
Ivy Walz
Candor NY  
     


The American Prize in Voice / Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award—art song/oratorio, college/university division (women),  2018-19

Alyce Daubenspeck
Nazareth PA  
   
Marina Davis
San Francisco CA  
   
Clare Demer
Tucson AZ 

Claire Dillahunty
Heath TX
   
Carley Duet
Cut Off LA  
   
Francesca Federico
New York NY  
   
Makeda Hampton
Lexington KY  
   
Christine Jobson
Miramar FL  
   
Victoria Lawal
Los Angeles CA  
   
Shaina Martinez
Germantown MD  
   
Sophia Mintas
Greensburg PA  
   
Theodora Ivanova Nestorova
Acton MA  
   
Samantha Noonan
Lincoln NE  
   
Galen Otten
Rochester NY

Jennifer Piazza-Pick
Columbia MD    

Therese Pircon
Macomb IL  
   
Michelle Ravitsky
San Antonio TX  
   
Veronica Richer
Bryan OH  
   
Tessa Romano
Boulder CO  
   
Emily Simmons
Phoenix AZ  
      
Julia Claire Taylor
Lawrence KS  



The American Prize in Voice / Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award—art song/oratorio, high school division (men),  2018-19

Pauline Rogers
Fremont CA  
   
Alea Vernon
Cheshire CT  
   
Victoria Lourdes Whatley
Fairhope AL  


***

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on their facebook page, tweeting the news, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog.

Here is a sample announcement:

"Great News! I've just been selected as a semi-finalist in the (blank) division of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts. Here's the link: (copy link here). The American Prize will be announcing finalists in my division soon. You can learn more about this prestigious national competition here: www.theamericanprize.org or follow the news on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-American-Prize-celebrating-American-excellence-in-the-arts/214320622728 or Twitter: https://twitter.com/americanprize "

Please feel free to modify or expand this announcement to suit your needs.

Congratulations to all semi-finalists.






Tuesday, November 27, 2018

SEMI-FINALISTS: Piano solo, 2018-19


The American Prize is delighted to announce SEMI-FINALIST piano soloists for 2018-19. Congratulations! (Be sure to check all divisions. The American Prize may have moved an audition to a more appropriate category.) As the contests unfold, finalists, runners-up and winners will be selected from these lists. To know the exact date when finalists will be announced, please like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter #AmericanPrize, where that information will be published first.

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on social media, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog. A sample announcement may be found at the end of the post.

All contestants are reminded they are responsible for the viability of their online links to audition materials. Those links must remain active until the end of the contest year. Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email: theamericanprize@gmail.com

The American Prize in Piano Performance, 2018-19, professional solo division:

Svetlana Belsky
Northbrook IL  
   
Matthew Bengtson
Saline MI  
   
Yi-Yang Chen
Johnson City TN  
   
Andree-Ann Deschenes
Los Angeles CA  
   
Anchie Donn
West Hartford CT  
   
Tzu-Yin Huang
Ann Arbor MI  
   
Kangwoo Jin
Madison WI  
  
Jooyoung Kim
Fishers IN  
   
Akiko Konishi
Chicago IL  
   
Jin Ah Kwon
Lewisville TX  
   
Walter Morales
Pittsburgh PA  
   
Jarred Morehead
New York NY  
   
Jihong Park
Fort Lauderdale FL  
   
Ben Raznick
Denver CO  
   
Hyojin Rhim
Forest Hills NY  
   
Reed Tetzloff
Forest Hills NY  
   
Olivia Xin Zhang
Lexington KY  




The American Prize in Piano Performance, 2018-19, college/university solo division:

Meilin Ai
Denton TX  
   
Nathan Cheung
Pleasanton CA  
   
Hyejin Cho
Ann Arbor MI  
  
Ahyoung Cho
East Lansing MI  
   
Hokyong Choi
Cambridge MA  
   
William Hume
Carlisle PA  
   
Anna Keiserman
Newark NJ  
   
David Kotler
Allston MA  
   
Anthony C  Lee
Cary NC  
   
Aoshuang Li
Beijing, China
   
Jane Liu
Cleveland OH  
   
Lingxu Peng
Wuhan Hubei, China 
   
Christopher Richardson
Danville CA  
   
Tomasz Robak
Baltimore MD  
   
Luca Sacher
Lubbock TX  
   
Cecilia Sakong
State College PA  
   
Hyunah Song
East Lansing MI  
   
Wei-Yi Sun
Columbus OH  
   
Jarrett Takaki
Wilmette IL  
   
John Wilson
Miami Beach FL  
   
Brian Woods
Winchester VA  
   
Yin Zhang
Lincoln NE  



The American Prize in Piano Performance, 2018-19, high school solo division:

Jane Bua
New York NY  
   
William Chang
San Francisco CA  
   
Jasper Heymann
New York NY  
   
Henry Jiaxiang Huang
Columbia MO  
   
Annika Huprikar
Deerfield IL  
   
Michael McClure
Kenmore NY  




***

Semi-finalists: make the most of your selection by announcing it on your facebook page, tweet the news, and include a link to this announcement on your website or blog.

Here is a sample announcement:

"Great News! I've just been selected as a SEMI-FINALIST in the (blank) division of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts. Here's the link: (copy link here). The American Prize will be announcing FINALISTS in my division later this year. You can learn more about this prestigious national competition here: www.theamericanprize.org or follow the news on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-American-Prize-celebrating-American-excellence-in-the-arts/214320622728 or Twitter: https://twitter.com/americanprize "

Please feel free to modify or expand this announcement to suit your needs.

Congratulations to all semi-finalists!

Monday, November 19, 2018

SEMI-FINALISTS: Men in Opera, 2018-19

Friedrich Schorr as Wotan
The American Prize is pleased to announce SEMI-FINALIST men in opera and operetta for 2018-19, The FRIEDRICH and VIRGINIA SCHORR MEMORIAL AWARD in VOICE. Congratulations! (Be sure to check all divisions. The American Prize may have moved an audition to a more appropriate category.) As the contests unfold, finalists, runners-up and winners will be selected from this list. To know the exact date when finalists will be announced, please like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter #AmericanPrize, where that information will be published first. Semi-finalist men in opera will be published separately.

All contestants are reminded they are responsible for the viability of their online links to audition materials. Those links must remain active until the end of the contest year. Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email: theamericanprize@gmail.com

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on their facebook page, tweeting the news, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog. A sample announcement may be found at the end of the post.


The American Prize in Voice / Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award—opera & operetta, professional division (men),  2018-19

Jeff Byrnes
Detroit MI   

Tomas Dominguez
Green Bay WI   

Charles H. Eaton III
Storrs CT   

Albert Niedel
Gaithersburg MD   

Logan Tanner
Lawrence NJ   



The American Prize in Voice / Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award—opera & operetta, college/university division (men),  2018-19

Bradley Bickhardt
Columbia NJ   

Benjamin Howard
Denton TX   

Ian Murrell
Vandalia IL   




***

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on their facebook page, tweeting the news, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog.

Here is a sample announcement:

"Great News! I've just been selected as a semi-finalist in the (blank) division of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts. Here's the link: (copy link here). The American Prize will be announcing finalists in my division soon. You can learn more about this prestigious national competition here: www.theamericanprize.org or follow the news on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-American-Prize-celebrating-American-excellence-in-the-arts/214320622728 or Twitter: https://twitter.com/americanprize "

Please feel free to modify or expand this announcement to suit your needs.

Congratulations to all semi-finalists.






Saturday, November 17, 2018

SEMI-FINALISTS: Men in Art Song, 2018-19

Friedrich Schorr as Wotan
The American Prize is pleased to announce SEMI-FINALIST men in art song & oratorio for 2018-19, The FRIEDRICH and VIRGINIA SCHORR MEMORIAL AWARD in VOICE. Congratulations! (Be sure to check all divisions. The American Prize may have moved an audition to a more appropriate category.) As the contests unfold, finalists, runners-up and winners will be selected from this list. To know the exact date when finalists will be announced, please like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter #AmericanPrize, where that information will be published first. Semi-finalist men in opera will be published separately.

All contestants are reminded they are responsible for the viability of their online links to audition materials. Those links must remain active until the end of the contest year. Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email: theamericanprize@gmail.com

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on social media and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog. A sample announcement may be found at the end of the post.


The American Prize in Voice / Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award—art song/oratorio, professional division (men),  2018-19

Troy Castle
Marion IN   

Tomas Dominguez
Green Bay WI   

Michael Hix
Albuquerque NM   

Justin John Moniz
Springfield IL   

Bryan Pinkall
Manhattan KS   

Royce Strider
Meadville PA   

David Tayloe
Tuscaloosa AL   



The American Prize in Voice / Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award—art song/oratorio, college/university division (men),  2018-19

Austin Sinclair Harris
Missouri City TX   

Benjamin Howard
Denton TX



The American Prize in Voice / Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award—art song/oratorio, high school division (men),  2018-19

Carl Ho
Houston TX   

Pablo Rubin-Jurado
New York NY   


***

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on their facebook page, tweeting the news, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog.

Here is a sample announcement:

"Great News! I've just been selected as a semi-finalist in the (blank) division of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts. Here's the link: (copy link here). The American Prize will be announcing finalists in my division soon. You can learn more about this prestigious national competition here: www.theamericanprize.org or follow the news on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-American-Prize-celebrating-American-excellence-in-the-arts/214320622728 or Twitter: https://twitter.com/americanprize "

Please feel free to modify or expand this announcement to suit your needs.

Congratulations to all semi-finalists.






Thursday, November 8, 2018

SEMI-FINALISTS: Piano Concerto, 2018-19 (The Lorin Hollander Award)


Lorin Hollander
The American Prize is delighted to announce SEMI-FINALIST piano concerto soloists for 2018-19, The Lorin Hollander Award. Congratulations! (Be sure to check all divisions. The American Prize may have moved an audition to a more appropriate category.) As the contests unfold, finalists, runners-up and winners will be selected from these lists. To know the exact date when finalists will be announced, please like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter #AmericanPrize, where that information will be published first.

The American Prize LORIN HOLLANDER AWARD celebrates the artistry of one of the greatest pianists of his generation. Lorin Hollander has appeared as guest soloist with virtually every major symphony orchestra in the world and is a veteran of over 2,500 performances across the globe. The American Prize is delighted to share the legacy of this legendary artist through the re-naming of the award for Piano Concerto Performance in his honor. For more about the extraordinary life and career of Lorin Hollander, please visit http://lorinhollander.com/

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on social media, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog. A sample announcement may be found at the end of the post.

All contestants are reminded they are responsible for the viability of their online links to audition materials. Those links must remain active until the end of the contest year. Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email: theamericanprize@gmail.com


The American Prize in Piano Concerto Performance, 2018-19, The Lorin Hollander Award, professional division:

Yoon Lee
New York NY  
Mozart Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488

Yi-Yang Chen
Johnson City TN  
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4

Tzu-Yin Huang
Ann Arbor MI  
Samuel Barber Piano Concerto



The American Prize in Piano Concerto Performance, 2018-19, The Lorin Hollander Award, college/university division:

Meilin Ai
Denton TX  
Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2

Aoshuang Li
Beijing China
Stravinsky Concerto for Piano and Winds
  
Daniel Richardson
Danville CA  
Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat

Tomasz Robak
Baltimore MD  
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4
   
Cecilia Sakong
State College PA  
Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor


 
The American Prize in Piano Concerto Performance, 2018-19, The Lorin Hollander Award, 2018-19, high school division:

Michael McClure
Kenmore NY  
Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor

Avik Sarkar
Chestnut Hill MA  
Chopin Piano Concerto No 1 in E minor

Joey Zhu
San Ramon CA  
Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor



***

Semi-finalists: make the most of your selection by announcing it on your facebook page, tweet the news, and include a link to this announcement on your website or blog.

Here is a sample announcement:

"Great News! I've just been selected as a SEMI-FINALIST in the (blank) division of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts. Here's the link: (copy link here). The American Prize will be announcing FINALISTS in my division later this year. You can learn more about this prestigious national competition here: www.theamericanprize.org or follow the news on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-American-Prize-celebrating-American-excellence-in-the-arts/214320622728 or Twitter: https://twitter.com/americanprize "

Please feel free to modify or expand this announcement to suit your needs.

Congratulations to all semi-finalists!

Monday, November 5, 2018

SEMI-FINALISTS: Chamber Ensembles, 2018-19

The American Prize is delighted to announce SEMI-FINALIST chamber ensembles for 2018-19. Congratulations! (Be sure to check all divisions. In certain cases, The American Prize may have moved an auditioning ensemble to a more appropriate category.)

As the contests unfold, finalists, runners-up and winners will be selected from these lists. To know the exact date when finalists will be announced, please like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter #AmericanPrize, where that information will be published first.

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on social media, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog. A sample announcement may be found at the end of the post.

All contestants are reminded they are responsible for the viability of their online links to audition materials. Those links must remain active until the end of the contest year. Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email: theamericanprize@gmail.com

The American Prize in Chamber Music Performance, 2018-19, professional division:

Amosa Duo
Urbana IL

Blanka Bednarz and Matthew Bengtson
Carlisle PA    
   
Estrella Piano Duo
Northbrook IL        

The Sierra Duo
Saline MI    
   
Seraph Brass
Naples FL    
  
District5
Takoma Park MD    
   
In Motus Tuba Quartet
Pullman WA    
   
Duo Francois
Fort Collins CO    
   
Duo Seraphim
Brooklyn NY 

Rosco String Quartet
Salt Lake City UT        

Duo Aldebaran
McAllen TX    
   
Noree Chamber Soloists
New York NY    
   
Ensemble 365  
Bayside NY
   
Ensemble for These Times
San Francisco CA    
   
Sheridan Solisti
Highland Park IL   

Sylvestris Quartet with Harry Baechtel and Michael Seregow
San Francisco CA
   
Duo Guitiano
Fayetteville NC    
   
Mackenzie-Williams Duo
Tallahassee FL    
   
Duo Flautas Frescas
Opelika AL    



The American Prize in Chamber Music Performance, 2018-19, college/university division:

Koinonia Trio
Ann Arbor MI    
   
International Counterpoint
Atlanta GA    
  
The Prima Piano Quartet
Columbia SC    
   
Aruna Quartet
Lubbock TX    
   
Zelos Quartet
San Jose CA    
   
Estampe Trio
Savoy IL    
   
Bierstadt Brass Quintet
Greeley CO    



The American Prize in Chamber Music Performance, 2018-19, high school division:

The Brahms Piano Quintet
New York NY    
  
Huntley High School Saxophone Quartet
Huntley IL    
   
The Ariose String Quartet
Jacksonville FL        

Trio Cantare
Santa Clara CA    
   
The Orenda Quartet
Edwardsville IL    
  
Firefly Quartet
Ridgewood NJ    
   
Quantum Quartet
Carrollton TX    


***

Semi-finalists: make the most of your selection by announcing it on your facebook page, tweet the news, and include a link to this announcement on your website or blog.

Here is a sample announcement:

"Great News! Our ensemble just been selected as a SEMI-FINALIST in the (blank) division of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts. Here's the link: (copy link here). The American Prize will be announcing FINALISTS in my division later this year. You can learn more about this prestigious national competition here: www.theamericanprize.org or follow the news on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-American-Prize-celebrating-American-excellence-in-the-arts/214320622728 or Twitter: https://twitter.com/americanprize "

Please feel free to modify or expand this announcement to suit your needs.

Congratulations to all semi-finalists!

Monday, October 29, 2018

SEMI-FINALISTS: Instrumental Soloists (2018-19)

The American Prize is delighted to announce SEMI-FINALIST instrumental soloists for 2018-19. Congratulations! (Be sure to check all divisions. The American Prize may have moved an audition to a more appropriate category.) As the contests unfold, finalists, runners-up and winners will be selected from these lists. To know the exact date when finalists will be announced, please like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter #AmericanPrize, where that information will be published first.

We invite semi-finalists to make the most of their selection by announcing it on social media, and including a link to this announcement on their website or blog. A sample announcement may be found at the end of the post.

All contestants are reminded they are responsible for the viability of their online links to audition materials. Those links must remain active until the end of the contest year. Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email: theamericanprize@gmail.com

The American Prize in Instrumental Performance, 2018-19, professional division:

Brian Allred
Kansas City KS
Flute      
   
Christine Erlander Beard
Omaha NE
Flute      
   
Blanka Bednarz
Carlisle PA
Violin      
   
Mary Elizabeth Bowen
Winston-Salem NC
Trumpet          

Christopher Dickey
Pullman WA
Tuba      
   
Krista Jobson
Edinburg TX
Flute      
   
Christopher Lowry
Antioch TN
Viola      
   
Christopher Nichols
Smyrna DE
Clarinet      
  
Hannah Porter Occena
Glen Cove
NY Flute      

Kumiko Shimizu
Cleveland MS
collaborative piano           

Kenneth Thompkins
Troy MI
Trombone      
 
Erin Murphy
Stillwater OK
Flute      
   
Rick Bogart
New York NY
Clarinet      
  
Gloria Justen
San Francisco CA
Viola      

Ulli Reiner
Poway CA
Violin     
   
Denise Tryon
Cincinnati OH
Horn      
  
Zoe Vandermeer
Gaylordsville CT
WelshTriple Harp
Baroque Triple Harp



The American Prize in Instrumental Performance, 2018-19, college/university division:

Eftihia Victoria Arkoudis
Morgantown WV
Flute      
  
Joe Broom
McLean VA
Euphonium      

Samuel DeCaprio
Lebanpn CT
Cello      

Taylor Fleshman
Kernersville NC
Harp      
  
Scott Greene
Highland Park IL
Clarinet      
   
Tyrone Page
Baltimore MD
Saxophone      
   
Hanan Rahman
Alpharetta GA
Horn      
   
Fei Tong
Mount Pleasant MI
Violin      
   
Daniel Wolfe
Chambersburg PA
Bassoon



The American Prize in Instrumental Performance, 2018-19, community division:

Thomas J. Philbrick
Okemos MI
Violin      
   
Shan Su
Tyler TX
Viola   



The American Prize in Instrumental Performance, 2018-19, high school division:

Claire Arias-Kim
Hoffman Estates IL
Violin      
  
Grace Huh
San Jose CA
Violin      
  
Abigail Leong
Fremont CA
Cello      
  
Pierce Wang
Fremont CA
Violin      



***

Semi-finalists: make the most of your selection by announcing it on your facebook page, tweet the news, and include a link to this announcement on your website or blog.

Here is a sample announcement:

"Great News! I've just been selected as a SEMI-FINALIST in the (blank) division of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts. Here's the link: (copy link here). The American Prize will be announcing FINALISTS in my division later this year. You can learn more about this prestigious national competition here: www.theamericanprize.org or follow the news on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-American-Prize-celebrating-American-excellence-in-the-arts/214320622728 or Twitter: https://twitter.com/americanprize "

Please feel free to modify or expand this announcement to suit your needs.

Congratulations to all semi-finalists!

Friday, September 7, 2018

GUEST BLOGGER: Mrs. Ernst Bacon on the VITAL ROLE of CONDUCTORS

Mrs. Ernst Bacon, who, as chairman of the Ernst Bacon Society, helps sponsor The American Prize Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music, writes about the essential conductor's role in expanding the repertoire.

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Ernst Bacon as a young man.
I’d like to make an imperfect analogy between the falling trees and various categories of under-performed composers.

If a woman composes a piece of music and no one ever hears it, in effect it doesn’t exist.  The same is true of a black composer.  A third category is living composers, whose music has been receiving more performances in recent decades to balance the works of “dead Europeans” still preponderant on most concert programs.

In the past few years, many performers - including singers, chamber musicians, and conductors - have begun to champion women composers, both dead and alive, and also black composers, whether male or female, living or not living.  This new trend gives voice to whole forests of composers whose music has been too long neglected and in many cases totally unknown to the general public.  These additions enhance and enrich the repertoire to the benefit of all.  The singers, chamber musicians, and conductors who perform music in these three categories are vitally important in bringing this music alive and assuring its continued existence.

The opposite of “dead European composers” is "living American composers."  My late husband, Ernst Bacon, was a strong advocate of the latter. Now, in addition to the three categories of living, black, and women composers, there is a fourth category that mostly continues to be neglected:  the category of “forgotten dead Americans.”  As Bacon's widow, I have been trying to revive the music of this once well-known American.  But as is true of so many other things, “It takes a village,” and my personal efforts can only succeed as part of a team.

This summer I’ve been greatly encouraged by the advocacy of one of our CODA members, James Tapia of Syracuse University, who performed Bacon’s “Erie Waters” with the Syracuse Summer Festival Orchestra last night and is planning to perform his Pulitzer-winning “Symphony in D Minor” as part of his championing of “forgotten Americans.”  At last night’s performance of “Erie Waters,” I was unexpectedly asked to give a short talk about my husband and then - even more unexpectedly - given a framed certificate in appreciation for “Outstanding Advocacy of American Music.”  I felt deeply honored by this recognition - but I think that Jim deserves his own special certificate!  He believes, as I do, that there are fine works by many Americans no longer living, such as Robert Helps and Howard Hanson, that are in danger of sinking into oblivion, and he is dedicating himself to reviving this music, primarily written between the 1930s - 1970s. Ernst's “Symphony in D Minor” was written before I was born, and I will be thrilled to hear it for the first time conducted by James Tapia!

The dead Americans who have NOT been forgotten had their own personal champions - among them, of course, Copland, whose music became widely known and deservedly loved through Bernstein.  As we celebrate Bernstein in his centennial year, I think one of his greatest accomplishments is putting Copland and others on the map.  Even Copland needed a champion, and Bernstein was that vital link to his future fame.

In my case, now that Ernst is gone, I’m married to his music and am doing what I can to get it on the map before I too am gone.   He himself had a deep love of the “dead Europeans,” having been born to a Viennese mother and having studied and heard their music throughout his growing up years in Chicago.  But after returning from a period of study in Vienna, he felt the youth and vitality of our own country and realized that America should find its own musical voice, just as the transcendental authors had found a literary voice.  He took to heart the suggestions of Dvorak earlier in the century that American composers embrace our country's folk songs, including the music of native Americans and black people.  Carl Sandburg, who was a guitarist and collector of folk songs, as well as a poet, was a good friend of the Bacon family, and he too encouraged Ernst to incorporate folk materials into his own music.

Since Ernst is no longer here to advocate for American music, I myself have tried to continue his advocacy.  But I am not a performer, and I salute all of you conductors who perform the works of living composers, women composers, black composers - and forgotten American composers.  All of you are making important contributions in furthering the cause of American music; and because of you, all of the diverse trees in the forest of American music will be preserved for posterity.

Best wishes,
Ellen Bacon                                                                  


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

GUEST BLOGGER: "An American in Ankara," Part 2

GUEST BLOGGER, The American Prize Laureate Composer and Honored Artist, Lee Actor, writes about conducting concerts of his music in Turkey.  

For part one of this story, please click: https://theamericanprize.blogspot.com/2018/08/guest-blogger-american-in-ankara-part-1.html 

(Are you a laureate of The American Prize with a musical story to share with our readership? Please write to us with your ideas at theamericanprize@gmail.com) 

PART TWO of "An American in Ankara"—more GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
by Lee Actor
As the Assistant Conductor of the Palo Alto Philharmonic since 2001, I am very familiar with the rehearsal techniques and pacing needed to prepare a good amateur orchestra for performance.  However, this would be my first time conducting a professional orchestra, and I was admittedly a bit anxious.  As the sole composer on the program, I faced a double whammy: the musicians might dislike my music, my conducting, or both; and negative feelings in one area were sure to affect the other.

Fethi taught me a few words of Turkish to introduce myself to the orchestra, and as we started rehearsing “Dance Rhapsody” a comfortable relationship quickly developed between me and the musicians.  My fears about communication issues proved unfounded; most of the orchestra understood at least some English.  I learned that the concertmaster had studied for several years at the New England Conservatory, and those few times I needed to express a more complex idea, she helpfully translated for the orchestra.  But for the most part “musical Italian” and a little English worked just fine.  I quickly learned to avoid using large numbers, as in “Please begin at m. 237”; much better was “6 before letter K”.  Interestingly, the musicians in Izmir the following week specifically asked me to use absolute measure numbers when they realized I was intentionally avoiding using them.

There is a fine balance for a conductor – especially a guest conductor – between maintaining control and keeping the musicians engaged.  For example, I had been told that the mid-rehearsal break was 15 minutes long; but that first day when I returned to the stage at the appointed time, it was still largely empty.  The “real” break was closer to 25 minutes, which I didn’t make an issue of; an easy decision considering the 3-hour rehearsal length.  On purely musical issues, we worked hard but efficiently, and I made no compromises.  I was “tested” a couple of times – such as when a string principal suggested that a certain passage would be easier if not played as softly as notated – but the orchestra quickly realized that I knew what I wanted, and there was very little friction overall.  As the week passed, more and more musicians overcame their shyness or insecurity about their English to tell me how much they were enjoying the music and working with me.

The orchestra management had asked me if I was willing to give a presentation to local conservatory students, which I agreed to.  On Wednesday afternoon my talk covered the circuitous journey to my career as a full-time composer, with numerous audio examples of how my compositional style has changed over the past 40 years.  No translator was needed, and the audience seemed very appreciative.
Rehearsal in Ankara
The performance in Ankara was billed as the “Turkish-American Friendship Concert” (a bit ironic considering the recent diplomatic friction between the countries), and it wasn’t until we had been in Turkey for some time that I understood how key a player the U.S. Embassy had been as a financial promoter of the concert.  They held a very nice reception for us on Thursday evening at the ambassador’s residence, where I met the acting ambassador and much of his staff, all of whom attended the performance Friday evening.  Of course, promoting good relations between Turkey and the U.S. is a major component of their jobs, and they were very excited to learn that an American composer would be in Ankara for a week to conduct a program of his works.  I should mention that none of the orchestra management who attended the reception had ever been to the ambassador’s residence before, so it was a first for all of us.  One person I met there was a Turkish composer who wrote orchestral music but taught jazz at the conservatory; improbably, he received his doctorate in Tennessee!

The “general” rehearsal on Friday morning – what we would call a dress rehearsal – included a large contingent of elementary-age school kids in the audience.  At the break, they rushed up to the stage and seemed genuinely excited to speak to me, though honestly I’m not sure why.  I’m not a big fan of tiring out the orchestra the day of the concert, so I made sure we did what we needed during the rehearsal and let them go 30 minutes early.  You can’t overrate good will.

I arrived at the concert hall 2 hours before the performance, where the U.S. Embassy filmed a short promotional video; you can see here: http://www.leeactor.com/videos.htm#USEmbassy_videos.

The house was nearly full for the concert, which was received warmly.  I was pretty sure that Dance Rhapsody and the saxophone concerto would go over well, as they always seem to; but I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the enthusiastic ovation given the 3rd Symphony, much of which has a fairly dark mood.  The orchestra recorded video for the entire concert, which I’ve linked to on my website:
http://www.leeactor.com/videos.htm#DR_videos
http://www.leeactor.com/videos.htm#SC_videos
http://www.leeactor.com/videos.htm#Sym3_videos

Just outside ancient Ephesus
Following the performance in Ankara, the original plan was to fly the 325 miles to Izmir for another week of rehearsals and concert; but Fethi offered to drive us there in his van for a more up close and personal view of the country, which sounded like fun.  We spent most of the day Saturday on the road, during which it rained intermittently.  Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey and is located on the west coast of the country, on the Aegean Sea.  It is a popular tourist destination and has a relaxed, laid back feel not unlike Northern California.  Several of Fethi’s close relatives live in Izmir, including his brother Cemil, recently retired concertmaster of the Izmir State Symphony Orchestra (İzmir Devlet Senfoni Orkestrası in Turkish).  Cemil and his wife Karen – originally from Wales – were extremely gracious and treated us like family members, hosting us at their home nearly every evening for dinner and conversation.

The rehearsal schedule in Izmir was similar to that in Ankara: rehearsals in the mornings from Tuesday through Friday, with the concert Friday evening, leaving us two full days for sightseeing.  One must-see destination, about an hour away by car, is the famous ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus, some of which is as much as 8000 years old.  There is a large Greek amphitheater there which is still used as a performing venue.
Concert in Izmir
The concert hall in Izmir is fairly new, and quite attractive.  As in Ankara, the orchestra provided a driver each day.  The musicians again were very friendly and welcoming, and as the week went on a number of them approached me during breaks to let me know they enjoyed rehearsing my music.  It was interesting to compare the two orchestras: one a little stronger in the strings, the other with stronger horns, etc.; but overall they were quite similar in their level of playing.  The concert in Izmir was also well-received, and the entire experience was very humbling and gratifying for me.
Fethi and Me
It is a great honor for any composer to have an entire program dedicated solely to his works.  It’s not unusual to see an all-Beethoven, or all-Mozart, or all-[fill in the name of another immortal composer] concert program; but such a thing is much rarer for a living composer.  It’s not something I ever expected to happen for me – let alone in Turkey!  I’m told that this was the first concert in the 192-year history of the C.S.O. that consisted of the works of a single composer, conducted by the composer.  Obviously I’m very humbled and grateful for the opportunity, and look forward to my next visit to Turkey.  My biggest debt of gratitude goes to Fethi Günçer, who took it upon himself to champion my music in Turkey, and single-handedly fought with determination to overcome every obstacle – and there were many – to bring me to his country to perform.  No composer could ask for more.

***






Tuesday, August 28, 2018

GUEST BLOGGER: "An American in Ankara," Part 1

GUEST BLOGGER, The American Prize Laureate Composer and Honored Artist, Lee Actor, writes about conducting concerts of his music in Turkey.

(Are you a laureate of The American Prize with a musical story to share with our readership? Please write to us with your ideas at theamericanprize@gmail.com)

PART ONE: "An American in Ankara"
by Lee Actor
In November of 2011, I received an unexpected and surprising email from Turkey.  It was from a musician named Fethi Günçer, who explained that he played clarinet/saxophone for the Presidential Symphony Orchestra in Ankara, had heard my alto saxophone concerto online, really liked it, and suggested that I come to Turkey to conduct it with his orchestra.  My initial reaction, frankly, was “Is this for real?”.  A quick online search revealed that this was indeed a legitimate, full-time professional orchestra – the Turkish name is Cumhurbaşkanlığı Senfoni Orkestrası, or C.S.O. – and in fact one of the oldest orchestras in the world, having been founded in 1826.  Looking through their season schedule, I discovered that the orchestra presented a new program every week from September through May, with repertoire very similar to that of any major American orchestra – with the exception of a few Turkish composers who I wasn’t familiar with.

Naturally, I was intrigued, and had many questions: about the rehearsal schedule, possible language issues communicating with the orchestra (English is my only fluent language), the financial arrangements – and not least about Turkey itself, which I had never visited.  But my main concern was how programming decisions get made.  Certainly for U.S. orchestras, individual musicians have little or no say over programming, which is normally the province of orchestra management and music directors.  For historical reasons, all orchestras in Turkey are state institutions, with rotating management councils elected by the musicians, and Mr. Günçer was confident that presenting this kind of project to his friends on the management council had a high probability of being approved.  In his enthusiasm, he even suggested offering an all-Actor program, to be conducted by me, and taking it to orchestras in other Turkish cities besides Ankara.  This prompted me to ask the question, “Why would people in Turkey come to a concert of works by an American composer they’ve never heard of?”  Not to worry, he assured me; they played weekly to nearly full audiences, who no doubt would enjoy my music.  They would consider it an honor to host me, and had every reason to expect a successful concert.  No pressure!

Over the following months, as we continued to email back and forth, Fethi introduced the symphony management to my music, which apparently they liked very much.  In mid-2013, I finally received a formal invitation from the orchestra to conduct a program of my works for the 2013-14 season.  However, it was late in the planning process, and we couldn’t find a mutually agreeable time to schedule the concert.  I was invited again for the 2014-15 season, but the appointment of a new General Music Director and the usual bureaucratic red tape caused that season’s schedule to fill up before we could find a suitable date.  I got another invitation in the summer of 2015 for the 2015-16 season, and, try as we might, couldn’t find a date that worked for both of us.  Unbelievably, the same thing happened a year later for the 2016-17 season.  The stars finally aligned for the 2017-18 season and we locked in a week in mid-March 2018.  In short order, Fethi arranged for a concert the following week in Izmir with the Izmir State Symphony Orchestra (İzmir Devlet Senfoni Orkestrası in Turkish).  A few months later I had signed contracts with both orchestras and could start planning this trip in earnest.

Then in early October 2017, Turkey and the U.S. got into a diplomatic dispute and both stopped issuing travel visas to the other country.  As the impasse continued week after week, the entire project became increasingly doubtful.  It seemed the only other option I had was to make an appointment for an interview at the nearest Turkish embassy (400 miles away) and hope they would decide to issue a visa.  But I was working on a deadline for my latest composition, and didn’t have the time to spare – especially since there was no guarantee that it would result in a travel visa.  I asked my friends at the C.S.O. if there was anything they could do, but their hands were tied.  The two countries finally kissed and made up the last week of December 2017, and I was able to quickly get our e-Visas online.

Another snag concerned getting the orchestral parts for the program to Turkey.  When the C.S.O. tried to place an order on my website, they told me they were unable to because “Turkey” was not in the list of countries offered.  This surprised me, as I use PayPal on the website.  But a little investigation revealed that in 2016 Turkey had passed new regulations that required IT systems for financial transactions be localized within the country, making it impossible for PayPal to continue doing business there (they distribute their IT across numerous global hubs).  This inspired us to forgo the shipping of physical parts entirely, opting instead for secure pdfs – much less expensive and less work, at least on my part.  I’ve since added a pdf option to my online store for all parts.

The orchestra booked our flights, and we made our final preparations.  Ok, I’ll say it – I HATE traveling.  I hate airports with their security lines and endless waiting, I hate being a captive sardine on an airplane, I hate disrupting my daily schedule, I hate not having my “stuff” around me.  It took the extraordinary opportunity offered me in Turkey to overcome my innate reluctance to spend 2 weeks in a foreign country.  We had a direct flight from San Francisco to Istanbul, which took 13 hours; from there it’s an hour or so flight to Ankara, the capital of Turkey and its 2nd largest city.  The orchestra sent a car to take us from the airport to the hotel, where we finally met in person my now good friend Fethi Günçer.  Fethi greeted us with flowers for my wife and a large supply of bottled water – “better than hotel bottled water”, he assured us.  Apparently, most people in Turkey drink bottled rather than tap water.

Our room was fairly small by American standards, but big enough for our needs, and at least we had Wi-Fi.  But as we hauled in our several large suitcases filled with 2 weeks’ worth of clothing, concert clothes and other essentials, we noticed there was no closet, no place to hang up anything, no drawers, and no shelves.  Hmm, this was going to be interesting.  We did end up changing rooms after one night, as the ventilation system wasn’t working properly, and ended up in a larger room with space to hang up and store our clothes.


We had two full days before rehearsals started on Tuesday, leaving plenty of time for sightseeing around Ankara.  Fethi was our gracious host, taking us to museums, bazaars, and the famous mausoleum of Atatürk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey, which replaced the crumbling Ottoman Empire in 1923.  Call me quirky, but I always enjoy visiting supermarkets and department stores in other countries, which along with “people watching” gives me a better feel for the local population than artifacts from the Bronze Age, interesting though the latter may be.  We had several outstanding meals in Ankara; one of the most memorable was lunch at a restaurant very popular with locals, but practically unknown to tourists.  We had lamb “kebap” – seasoned meat roasted on a vertical rotisserie, sliced thinly and served on a kind of puffy bread – and the best baklava I’ve ever had, baked fresh daily at the restaurant.  And at the hotel breakfast buffet I developed a daily habit for “simit”, a popular street food which is basically a round bread covered in sesame seeds – kind of a Turkish bagel.  The food in Turkey was delightful, the only problem being to avoid overindulging.

On Tuesday morning we finally got down to business.  The orchestra sent a car to take us from the hotel to the concert hall, only a few minutes away.  The program was designed around my “Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra”, a Finalist for the 2013 American Prize in Orchestral Composition and always a big hit with audiences; it has been performed 16 times to date.  Fethi and I spent a couple of hours on Monday going over the whole concerto and aligning our concepts of the piece; I had just conducted a performance of the concerto in February with the Palo Alto Philharmonic, so it was still very fresh in my memory.  For the opener I had decided on “Dance Rhapsody”, one of my most popular pieces (14 performances) and a sure-fire audience pleaser; it won 2nd place in the 2011 American Prize in Orchestra Composition, and was the winner of the 2016 Austin Civic Orchestra Composition Competition.  I had conducted the premiere in 2010 and knew there were technical challenges for both orchestra and conductor.  The final piece on the program was my 34-minute “Symphony No. 3”, which had not been performed since its premiere in 2013; it has a definite “Shostakovich” vibe, and a couple of the movements are challenging even for professionals.  The program totaled 72 minutes of music, which I thought would be quite doable in 4 rehearsals, even though this would be all-new music for the orchestra – the Turkish premieres of all 3 pieces, in fact.

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Tomorrow: 
PART TWO: "more GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS"