Monday, April 16, 2018

WINNING COMPOSERS: choral music, 2017-18

The American Prize is honored to announce the winners, runners-up, citation recipients and honorable mentions of The American Prize in Composition, 2017-18, in choral 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.

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.

REMINDER: The final postmark deadline for composers to apply for The American Prize, 2018-19, is APRIL 30, 2018.  There is no need to email in advance to take advantage of the April date. Please note that although the deadline date on application forms will not be changed, your application will be accepted through the final deadline.

Please make us aware of any misprints:

The American Prize in Composition—MUSIC for CHORUS, professional division, 2017-18

The American Prize winner:
Joel Bentley Thompson   Snellville GA
    Seven Last Words of the Unarmed 
Joel Bentley Thompson
Joel Bentley Thompson (b.1988) is an Atlanta composer, pianist, conductor, and educator. His latest work, Seven Last Words of the Unarmed for TTBB chorus and full orchestra, was premiered February 2017 by the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club and Sphinx Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Eugene Rogers. Currently the Upper School Choir Director at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta, Thompson also served as Director of Choral Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Andrew College from 2013-2015. Thompson is a proud Emory alum, graduating with a B.A. in Music in 2010, and an M.M. in Choral Conducting in 2013. His teachers include Eric Nelson, William Ransom, Laura Gordy, Richard Prior, John Anthony Lennon, Kevin Puts, Robert Aldridge, and Scott Stewart.


2nd Place (there was a tie):
David Lipten   Tallahassee FL 
    How to
David Lipten
David Lipten’s music has been described as possessing "strength and integrity...along with…deep [and]...rigorous musical lyricism.” The New York New Music Ensemble, the Chester Quartet, and the Bienen Contemporary Ensemble/Donald Nally, among others, have premiered his compositions. His string quartet, Ictus, received first prize at the Portland Chamber Music Festival. The chorus “Volti” performed and recorded Time’s Dream for chorus (E.E. Cummings, poems). His Show of Hands for piano has been performed 13 times in the US and in Europe. His first CD, Best Served Cold, was released in 2012. The New York Virtuoso Singers, Harold Rosenbaum, conductor, recorded two songs for chorus from the cycle “How To” and released them in 2016.

2nd Place (there was a tie):
Scott Perkins   New Haven CT
    The Stolen Child; A Word Out Of The Sea; The World of Dream
Scott Perkins
Connecticut native Scott Perkins enjoys a multifaceted career as an international prizewinning composer, a versatile performer, and an award-winning scholar. His music has been praised by critics for publications including the Washington Post (“dramatic,” “colorful”) and the Washington Times (“perfectly orchestrated,” “haunting,” “a remarkable and welcome musical surprise”). He has been commissioned by organizations ranging from the Washington National Opera to the American Guild of Organists, and his work has been performed throughout North America and Europe. His debut CD was released on Navona Records earlier this year. Scott has concertized throughout the United States and abroad. He has performed with numerous professional ensembles as both a tenor and a conductor, and he is a featured soloist on CDs produced by Bridge Records and Loft Recordings. Scott earned a Ph.D. in composition and masters degrees in music theory and music theory pedagogy from the Eastman School of Music.

3rd Place:
Mari Esabel Valverde   Fort Worth TX
    "When Thunder Comes"
Mari Esabel Valverde
Composer and singer Mari Esabel Valverde has been commissioned by the American Choral Directors Association, the Texas Music Educators Association, GALA Choruses, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and others. Her works are published by earthsongs, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and Walton Music and self-published.
A translator, she is fluent in French and Spanish and studies Brazilian Portuguese and Swedish. She has translated Ravel’s opera L’Enfant et les Sortilèges among other vocal works and documents from French to English. An educator, she taught voice at the high school level for four years in Texas, where she sang with the Dallas Symphony Chorus, the Dallas Chamber Choir, and Vox Humana. Ms. Valverde holds degrees from St. Olaf College, the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, France, and San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She is a member of ASCAP, ACDA, and the American Composers Forum. For more information, please visit

Finalist—Special Judges' Citation:"Best Use of Musical Material from Another Source"
Jesse Ayers & Charles Myricks, Jr.   Canton OH
    There's a Stirrin' in the Water
Jesse Ayers
JESSE AYERS was the winner of the inaugural American Prize for Orchestral Composition in 2011, and was named an "Honored Artist" of the American Prize in 2014. Recent honors include First Prize in the 2016 Opera Kansas Zepick Modern Opera Composition Competition, a 2014 Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Excellence Award, the 2013 Boston Metro Opera Concert Award, the 2011 Dayton Ballet “New Music for New Dance" award, and a 2010 MacDowell Fellowship. Recent commissions include those from the Akron Symphony, Soprani Compagni, the Indiana Bandmasters Association, the Ohio Private Colleges Instrumental Conductors Association, the Wisconsin Lutheran National Honors Band, and Milligan College. His music has been performed in more than 100 U.S. cities and eight foreign countries. 

Charles Myricks, Jr.
Charles Myricks, Jr., is currently Chief Operating and Development Officer of the National Association of the Church of God. For several years he served as Vice President and General Manager of Word Records in Nashville.  In 2000, Myricks was commissioned to write the First Night Akron theme song for the city’s Millennial Celebration, and was also instrumental in the creation of the popular “Gospel Meets Symphony” concerts with the Akron Symphony Orchestra. In February 2004, he collaborated with Ohio Ballet to produce and premiere Transformation, based on the Biblical figure of Paul. The following year he expanded that work into Paul: A Musical Journey, which recounts the life of the apostle in a musical that blends gospel, rhythm-and-blues and jazz.

Finalist—Special Judges' Citation: "Relevant, Heartfelt and Deeply Moving"
Gerald Gurss   Columbia SC
    Be at My Side (Policeman's Prayer)
Gerald Gurss
Gerald Gurss currently serves as the artistic director for One Voice Chorus (Charlotte, NC). Mr. Gurss earned a bachelor's of music from Emporia State University and a Master's of Music from Miami University. In addition to his academic achievements, he is a conductor, teacher and composer.  Choruses throughout the United States have performed his works. His works have been commissioned by Sine Nomine (Denver, CO), the New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus, Providence United Methodist Church (Charlotte, NC), 1st Baptist Church of Wadesboro (NC), San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus (CA), the Turtle Creek Chorale (TX), and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte. In 2014 Gerald worked with homeless LGBT youth of from the Carolinas to produce a documentary called, HOME. With HOME, came the original work, “Jonathan’s Song,” based on the struggles of a specific youth. The American Prize has awarded him as a semi-finalist in choral composition (2015) and a finalist/honorable mention recipient in choral composition (2016). Gerald is a DMA candidate in choral conducting at the University of South Carolina, where he studies with Dr. Larry Wyatt and Dr. Alicia Walker.

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Michael Cox   Fort Worth TX
Michael Cox
Michael Cox has recently retired, after nineteen years, as professor of Music Theory and composition at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.  At Southwestern Seminary, he directed the Men’s Chorus from 1993-2003 and the Southwestern Singers from 2006-2009.  Prior to joining the faculty at Southwestern, Cox was an associate professor of music at Oklahoma Baptist University (1972-1989) teaching conducting, music theory and serving as director of the Bison Glee Club for thirteen years. He is currently Director of the Chancel Choir, Composer in Residence, and Director of Music Ministries at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.  As an adjunct faulty member at Dallas Baptist University, he has taught orchestration, counterpoint, advanced analysis, choral arranging, composition and music theory. Cox received the Bachelor of Music degree with honors in piano performance from Oklahoma Baptist University, the Master of Music degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and the Doctor of Music degree in composition from Florida State University in Tallahassee. Dr. Cox has composed and published numerous sacred choral and instrumental works for use in the church.  More recently, his compositional efforts have focused upon larger works for festival size choir and orchestra.  His latest effort in this genre is an eight-movement work for tenor soloist, choir, and orchestra titled “Symphonic Psalms.” Dr. Cox is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers and has received their Standard Award  every year since 1987.  Dr. Cox’s international ministry opportunities as guest composer and conductor have included trips to Seoul, Korea, Vitoria and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Shawn Crouch   Miami Beach FL
    Visions and Ecstacies
Shawn Crouch
Shawn Crouch, composer and conductor has had his works performed and commissioned by ensembles in the United States, Canada and Europe including the Cleveland Orchestra, American Modern Ensemble, Cantori New York, California E.A.R. Unit, Chanticleer, Del Sol String Quartet, Eighth Blackbird, the Lunar Ensemble, newEar Contemporary Ensemble, Phoenix Chorale, Prism Quartet, San Francisco Choral Artists, Santa Fe Chorale, Seraphic Fire, and Volti. Shawn has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The American Prize, ASCAP, BMI, Yale University, Society of Composers Inc., Meet the Composer and the Percussive Arts Society Chorus America and the American Composer’s Forum. Shawn’s music has been commercially recorded by, among others, the American Modern Ensemble, Chanticleer, Seraphic Fire, and Volti. His music is published by G. Schirmer, Hal Leonard and HoneyRock Publishing. Shawn Crouch is currently Assistant Professor of Practice of Composition and Theory at the University of Miami where he is artistic director of the Ensemble Ibis New Music Ensemble.

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Joy DeCoursey-Porter   Bellevue WA
    "There Was The One"
Joy DeCoursey-Porter
Joy is a Canadian-born composer residing in Seattle, Washington. She is a graduate of San Diego Christian College and composed her first chorale piece in 1999 for a senior music theory project. The piece was later performed by the college chorale at the 2000 graduation ceremony. Joy resumed her efforts in the art of choral composition in 2010 and has had both choral and instrumental pieces performed throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. She has gained recognition via ChoralNet's Silver Platter Awards, Project Encore and The American Prize. Currently Joy’s self-published works can be found through MusicSpoke ( and

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Carlo Vincetti Frizzo   Bloomington IN 
    Fugue with Robin and Dogwood; Nightscape; A la Noche
Carlo Vincetti Frizzo
Carlo Vincetti Frizzo is pursuing a doctorate degree in choral conducting and composition at Indiana University where he has been the associate conductor for NOTUS as well as the associate chorus master for several IU Opera Theater productions. Mr. Frizzo also conducted new film music at IU’s Double Exposure and was the music director of New Voices Opera. His music has been played by Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall and recorded on Magni Publications and New Tertian Recordings. He was a winner of the MTNA National Student Composition Competition and NOTUS Choral Composition Contest. He was the 2nd place winner of the C4 2015 Commissioning Competition.  He was selected to be a composition fellow at the Big Sky Choral Initiative where he worked with Donald Nally and members of The Crossing. Prior to his arrival to Indiana University, he taught theory and composition at Sam Houston State University.

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Elaine Hagenberg   Windsor Heights IA
    selected choral works
Elaine Hagenberg
Elaine Hagenberg’s music “soars with eloquence and ingenuity” (National ACDA Choral Journal). Her compositions have been performed by schools, churches, universities, honor choirs and festivals
throughout the United States and abroad. Notable performances include the National Youth Choir at Carnegie Hall, the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales, the Melbourne International
Choral Festival in Australia, North Central and Central American Choral Directors Association Conferences, and several All State Choirs. Elaine graduated from Drake University and her compositions are published through Oxford University Press, Hinshaw Music, Hal Leonard,
G. Schirmer, and Beckenhorst Press. For more information, please visit:

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Jakub Polaczyk   Astoria NY
Jakub Polaczyk
JAKUB POLACZYK was born in Cracow on the 8th of March in 1983. He is a composer, pianist, and music educator living in New York City. In 2015, he began teaching at the New York Conservatory of Music. In 2013 he received his Artist Diploma in Composition (Prof. Reza Vali) as a full scholarship recipient at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. In 2010 he received combined Bachelor/ Master Degree in Composition (2010) from the Music Academy of Cracow. There he studied composition with Assistant Professor Marcel Chyrzyński, orchestration with Prof. Krzysztof Penderecki and computer music with Prof. Marek Chołoniewski. In 2008/2009 semester as part of the Socrates-Erasmus Exchange Scholars program he studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels, where he refined his compositional techniques in the class of Jan van Landeghem. In 2010-2011 he took postgraduate course in film scoring and theater music at the Music Academy and Schiller Film School in Lodz. In 2008 he received Master Degree in Musicology from the Jagiellonian University in Cracow under the supervision of Prof. Małgorzata Woźna-Stankiewicz, and in 2005 Bachelor Degree in Musicology under supervision of Professor Jadwiga Paja-Stach.  In 2005 he graduated from the Żelenski Secondary Music School in the piano class of Irena Rolanowska, obtaining diploma with honors. JAKUB has also received numerous awards and scholarship outside the academia. The most recent being: Distinction on the International Composition Competition in memory of A. Schnitkee in Sochi (Russia, 2018), MACRO Composition Competition distinction in Madison(2017), American Prize in Composition (finalist: 2014, 2017), the Iron Composer Award at the 2013 Iron Composer Competition held at Cleveland, Ohio.

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Walter Saul   Fresno CA
    The Word Was Made Flesh
Walter Saul
Walter Saul holds degrees from Duke and Eastman. His many composition honors include 25 ASCAP awards from 1990-2015, as well as "Composer of the Year" commissions from North Carolina Music Teachers Association (1986) and Oregon Music Teachers Association (1990). Performances of his works have occurred in 24 states and five nations, including Carnegie Hall and Paris. He has released six CD’s of his works: Out of Darkness Into His Marvelous Light (1998), From Alpha to Omega (2002), Songs of Requited Love (2007), Walter Saul: Sonatas and Meditations for Piano (2014), Kiev 2014: Orchestra Music by Walter Saul (2015), and Quiltings (CD and DVD, 2015). His music appears also on a 7th CD, Les flûtes enchantées, and on the Ring of Fire 2001 DVD. His website is His mission is to create through music windows of light that reveal and glorify the suffering and risen Jesus Christ.

The American Prize in Composition—MUSIC for CHORUS, student division, 2017-18

The American Prize winner:
Xingzimin Pan   Salt Lake City UT
    What Flowers Tell You
Xingzimin Pan
Xingzimin Pan’s music has been performed in the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Finland, Hungary, Australia and China. He is the award recipient of the 4th China-ASEAN Music Week Composition Competition, the 1st FNMC Composition Contest and 2nd IFCM International Composition Competition. Pan’s works have been published by Fudan University Publishing House and Schott Music. As one of the most emerging choral music composers in China, Pan has collaborated with many outstanding international choirs include Sydney Chamber Choir, Echo Chamber Singers (where he serves as Composer-in-Residence) and Shanghai Spring Children’s Choir. His representative works Poem I (IFCM Competition winning composition), Everlasting Love (Fudan University the 110th Anniversary Celebration commission), Dandelion (Echo Chamber Singers commission) and Wuxi Sights (Wuxi Children’s Palace Choir commission) received strong reviews from both critics and audiences. Pan is now studying for the Ph.D degree in Composition at the University of Utah.

2nd Place:
Jihyun Kim   Houston TX 
    A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky
Jihyun Kim
Jihyun Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Studying Composition with Shinuh Lee, she graduated early from Seoul National University with a Bachelor of Music as valedictorian and then earned a master's degree in Composition. Later, she graduated with a Master of Music from Indiana University where she studied with Don Freund, Aaron Travers and PQ Phan. She is currently pursuing a DMA at Rice University, studying with Karim Al-Zand. Her composed pieces have been performed at the festivals in Korea such as the Korean Music Expo and the ISCM World Music Days. Her works have also been performed in the United States and Brazil, including International Symposium of New Music, the RED NOTE New Music Festival and the Midwest Composers Symposium. Additionally, she won the Libby Larsen Prize in the International Alliance for Women New Music Competition and the Merit Award in the LinYao Ji International Competition for Composition in Hong-Kong.

3rd Place:
Marlene Miller   West Grove PA
    Repeating Random
Marlene Miller
Marlene Miller is an aspiring young composer. She was born in North Carolina and raised in Pennsylvania. In college, she joined the NOW Music Society and has since become the secretary of the society. Ms. Miller has played a crucial role in uniting the various departments in the West Chester School of Arts and Humanities through collaboration in her position as secretary. Previously, she received an honorable mention in the American Prize composition competition. She was also awarded the Roz Patton Scholarship for composition in voice from West Chester University. She is proud of the pieces she’s composed so far and desires to continue to use her art to make social change in a politically charged society. Marlene is dual majoring in Music Theory and Composition and English Composition at West Chester University.

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Nicolas Chuaqui   Bloomington IN
    Qui Confidunt in Domino
Nicolas Chuaqui
Nicolas Chuaqui creates works that draw on the musical traditions, both new and old, that exist around us. His recent compositions have been heard at several prominent American festivals, including June in Buffalo (2016), The Florida Electroacoustic Student Festival (2015), Midwest Composers' Symposium (2015), The NYC Electroacoustic Music Festival (2014), and The Deer Valley Festival (2014). He has also recently had his first opera, The Forest of Dreams, premiered in a fully-staged production by New Voices Opera (Indiana; 2016). Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, where he was trained as a chorister and pianist, he moved east for undergraduate study at Dartmouth College, and then split the different between those two locations, completing Master's work at Indiana. In college he developed not only as a composer, but also as a performer, leading his vocal group to a second-place finish on Season 3 of NBC's "The Sing-Off."


No comments:

Post a Comment