Thursday, April 12, 2018

WINNING COMPOSERS: instrumental chamber 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 instrumental chamber music 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—INSTRUMENTAL CHAMBER MUSIC, professional division, 2017-18

The American Prize winner:
Ching-chu Hu   Newark OH
    The Swash of Water and Red
Ching-chu Hu
Ching-chu Hu studied at Yale University, Freiburg Musikhochschule in Freiburg, Germany, The University of Iowa, and the University of Michigan. Honors includes composer-in-residence at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, the American Music Week Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria, the Aspen and Bowdoin Music Festivals, The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Banff Centre for the Arts.  He has received performances at various international festivals and venues, including the Alternativa Festival (Center “DOM”) in Moscow and Wigmore Hall in London, England. Ensembles performing his work include the Kiev Philharmonic, the National Dance and Opera Orchestra of China, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra, Moscow Conservatory’s Studio New Music Ensemble, Newark Granville Symphony, Brave New Works, the University of Iowa Center for New Music, ETHEL, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, NOW Ensemble, and Brooklyn Rider. His music can be found on Albany Records, ERM Media, Capstone Records, and online. He is the Richard Lucier Endowed Professor of Music at Denison University.  More information can be found:

2nd Place:
David Faleris   Annapolis MD
    A Martyred Village
David Faleris
An active and versatile musician, DAVID FALERIS wears many hats as a composer, trombonist, educator, and administrator. After completing his undergraduate work at Boston College (B.A., Music), David returned to his home state of Maryland to study with James Olin at The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University (M.M., Trombone Performance). He returned to Boston and served as Program Administrator for the Boston University Tanglewood Institute while teaching at Boston College and freelancing as a composer and trombonist. After eight years, David set out to pursue his long-time passion of composing for visual media by way of Berklee College of Music (M.M. & Post-graduate Fellowship, Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games) in Valencia, Spain. He currently resides in Edinburgh, U.K., working at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland while actively composing for visual media, as well as new works for the concert hall.

3rd Place (there was a tie):
Douglas Hedwig   Chattanooga TN
    "A Certain Slant of Light"
Douglas Hedwig
Composer Douglas Hedwig was a trumpet player with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (Lincoln Center, NYC) for 27 years, working with and alongside the finest conductors and soloists in the world. Since turning his full attention to composition in 2011, his music has been performed at the Blossom Music Festival by members of the Cleveland Orchestra (OH), by the West Point Band (The United States Army Band), and at New Music on the Bayou Festival (LA). Douglas Hedwig has composed works for trumpet, brass ensemble, strings, percussion, chorus, and concert band.  His experimental, electro-acoustic works have been heard worldwide. His music is published by Carl Fischer Music (NYC), and TRN Music Publisher. Dr. Hedwig previously served on the faculty of The Juilliard School and is Professor Emeritus of Music at the Conservatory of Music of Brooklyn College (City University of New York).

3rd Place (there was a tie):
Daniel McCarthy   Akron OH
    Towers of Power: Chamber Symphony No. 4
Daniel McCarthy
Daniel McCarthy has over 30 recordings of his music on Albany, Centaur, d'Note Classics, Gasparo, and Klavier Records, and 100 publications with C. Alan Publications, Ludwig Music, and The American Composer’s Edition  His music has been performed and recorded by artists such as The Harrington, Avalon, and Arianna String Quartets, Eugene Corporon and The North Texas Wind Symphony, The Brevard Festival Orchestra, The Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra, The World Youth Symphony Orchestra (Interlochen, Michigan), The Amarillo Symphony Orchestra, The Slovak National Symphony Orchestra, The Naples Symphony Orchestra, Rhythm & Brass, and The United State Marine Corps., Bands and Tuba/Euphonium Quartet, and the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors.

Finalist Honorable Mention:
David Avshalomov   Santa Monica CA
    Trotzky's Train
David Avshalomov
A third-generation American composer and conductor based in Santa Monica, David Avshalomov is also an accomplished bass vocalist. He composes in an accessible neo-tonal, modern Romantic style that balances a lyric gift with characteristic rhythmic vitality and pungent harmonies. His influences include the great 20th-century tonal composers (plus his late father Jacob and grandfather Aaron). He has written for forces ranging from solo instruments to full orchestra, band, and chorus, from songs and incidental pieces to full-length oratorio and opera, with an increasing number of regional commissions. Currently he is writing his second opera. His music has been performed professionally across the US, in Europe, Russia, and the Far East, and recorded on Albany and Naxos. He has won numerous grants and competitions, most recently The American Prizes for Band Composition (1st Place, 2015, 2nd Place 2016, 3rd Place 2014, plus frequent Finalist in other categories); the 2016 IOCSF Choral Composition Competition (First Place), Five VoxNovus 15 Minutes of Fame awards, Honored Artist of the American Prize 2014, a 2013 ACDA Silver Platter Award for Choral Composition, and a 2012 Special Judges’ Citation for Unique Artistic Achievement and Distinctive Merit  from the American Prize for Orchestral Composition. He earned his B.A in Music at Harvard and a D.M.A. in conducting (Krachmalnick) and composition (Bergsma, Verrall, Suderberg) at the University of Washington, studied at Aspen (Morel, Blomstedt, Torkanowsky, Jones [composition]), and Tanglewood (Bernstein, Schuller, Ozawa), was music director of several US orchestras and choruses on both coasts, guest conducted widely, toured in Europe and the Far East, and recorded orchestral music by his grandfather Aaron in Moscow for Naxos. His conducting work has garnered frequent listings in Who's Who in Music and Who's Who in the West.

Finalist Honorable Mention:
David P. Sartor   Hermitage TN
    Sonata for Trumpet and Piano
David P. Sartor
David P. Sartor is Adjunct Professor of Composition at Trevecca Nazarene University  and Music Director of Nashville’s Parthenon Chamber Orchestra.  Sartor’s compositions have received the American Bandmasters Association’s  prestigious Ostwald Award, the National Fine Arts Award, and more than three dozen awards from New Music for Young Ensembles, Meet The Composer, Delta Omicron, and ASCAP, among others.  A popular guest composer and conductor, his engagements include the Washington National Cathedral, the Knoxville and Chattanooga Symphony Orchestras, Illinois State University, Middle Tennessee State University, the Nexus Chamber Orchestra, the Vanderbilt University Orchestra, the Knoxville Brass Choir, the University of Tennessee Brass Choir, the Dogwood Arts Festival Chamber Orchestra, and a conducting “mini-residency” at California State University sponsored by New York City’s Meet The Composer Foundation. In 2009, Sartor was named a National Patron of Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity in recognition of his accomplishments as a conductor and composer.  Web site at

Special Judges Citation: "Music for Use: Accessible, Well-crafted, and Always Attractive."
Nancy Bloomer Deussen   Mountain View CA 
   Trio for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, The Pegasus Suite
Nancy Bloomer Deussen
American composer Nancy Bloomer Deussen is well known as a composer, performer and arts impressario. She is a leader in the growing movement for more melodic, tonally oriented contemporary music and is co-founder and President Emeritus of the SF Bay Chapter of the National Association of Composers, USA. Her original works have been performed in the USA, UK, Canada, Indonesia, Iran,  Europe, Australia and China and she has received numerous commissions both locally and nationally. Ms Bloomer Deussen holds BM and MM degrees from The Manhattan School of Music and a BM in Music Ed from the USC School of Music. Her teachers of composition were Vittorio Giannini, Lukas Foss, Ingolf Dahl and Wilson Coker. She was a finalist in Orchestral and Choral composition for The American Prize in 2012 and Second Place Winner in 2013 for the American Prize in Chamber Music composition for her “Woodwind Quintet”. In 2014 she was selected as one of five nationally Honored Artists of 2014 by The American Prize and in 2015 she again was a finalist in Orchestral composition. Her most recent honors are being chosen as First Place Music Winner of The Vinnie Ream Award (NLAPW-2016), a performance by The Missouri Symphony on July 1, 2016 of her “American Hymn” to celebrate our nations Independence Day, a commission to compose a work for chorus and orchestra to celebrate the 40 year anniversary of Mission College and 10th anniversary of The Mission College Orchestra (Santa Clara, CA) and a commission from Duo Terlano (PA) for a suite for violin and cello. Both premieres will take place this April. There will also be a performance of “The Transit of Venus” by The Peninsula Symphony (San Mateo, CA) in a space themed concert in May of this year as well as a number of other upcoming performances. Audio links of some of her works and more information can be found at: and

Special Judges Citation: "Music for Use: Accessible, Well-crafted, and Always Attractive"
Rebecca Oswald    Beaverton OR 
   "My Blue Ocean, Your Eyes","To Solace My Heart","The Gentle Rain of Your Pure Love","The Whisper of the Meaning","A Complete Life in Our Hands" 
Rebecca Oswald
Rebecca Oswald is an award-winning composer and lifelong pianist. She earned a BMus summa cum laude in music theory and composition from Westminster Choir College of Rider University (1998), and an MM in music composition from the University of Oregon School of Music (2001). She lives in Oregon. Oswald has composed for piano, voices, choral and chamber ensembles, orchestra, chorus with orchestra, and a clarinet concerto. In 2016 her first opera “Via Lactea” premiered in Bend, Oregon. She recorded two CDs of original piano music, “Whereas” (2011) and “October Wind” (2005). Several of her chamber and orchestral works have been released as well. In 2015 Oswald's "Theseus and the Minotaur" received honorable mention for The American Prize in Composition (chamber music, professional division), and several of her choral and chamber works were TAP finalists in 2014 and 2015. For more information please visit

Honorable Mention:
Bruce Babcock    Pasadena CA 
Bruce Babcock
Applauded by Aaron Copland, inspired by Desmond Tutu, and mentored by Hugo Friedhofer and Earle Hagen, Bruce Babcock has spent his working life composing for the musicians of Los Angeles.
Babcock holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in composition from California State University, Northridge. He won an Emmy Award in 1992, one of eight total Emmy nominations, and eight TV/Film awards from BMI. He has collaborated as an orchestrator and conductor with some of the biggest names in film scoring, including James Newton Howard and Michael Kamen. In the concert music world, Bruce earned commissions from Pacific Serenades, the Santa Barbara Chamber Music Festival, and UCLA faculty members Juliana Gondek and Doug Masek. He has received premieres from the Donald Brinegar Singers, the Antioch Ensemble, the Debussy Trio, and Boston Metro Opera. All Unto Me, dedicated to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was performed with the Archbishop in attendance in 2011.

Honorable Mention: 
Shawn Crouch    Miami Beach FL 
   Lew Beach
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.

Honorable Mention: 
Joel Scott Davis    Hoover AL 
   String Quartet No. 1: Vespers
Joel Scott Davis
Joel Scott Davis is a composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist whose music has been performed at such esteemed venues as Carnegie Hall, the Palais Ferstel in Vienna, and Harlaxton Manor in England. In addition to his concert works, his film scores have been featured in international film festivals and nationwide PBS broadcasts. More recently, his 2016 vocal cycle Songs of Liberty was named a semi-finalist for The American Prize. An alumnus of the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts, Davis serves as Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Music Theory, Musicology, and Technology at Samford University’s School of the Arts in Birmingham, Alabama; previously, he held teaching appointments at The Master’s University, Claremont Graduate University, and The University of Alabama at Birmingham. He holds graduate degrees in composition from Claremont Graduate University, where he studied and apprenticed under Edward David Zeliff and Peter Boyer.

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.

Honorable Mention: 
Ann Stimson   Weston MA 
   Caracas for solo piano
Ann Stimson
Ann Stimson holds a B.A. in music and sociology from Oberlin College and an M.A. in music composition from SUNY/Buffalo, where she studied with Morton Feldman. Her ten commissions include the first ever in the history of the Chromatic Club of Boston and a brass quintet which is an imaginary encounter between Giovanni Gabrieli and Dizzy Gillespie, as well as chamber music and music for theater, film, dance and puppetry. Her music has been performed around Boston and in Chicago, Indiana, Iowa, Texas, Washington, D.C. and Paris.  At the Performing Arts Center/Metrowest in Framingham, MA, she teaches piano to 14 students, compiling their compositions yearly. She has written feature articles for Symphony Pro Musica (Mark Churchill, Music Director). She does music publicity for esteemed composer Patricia Morehead, and was also publicist for the late Ruth Lomon. She has given 13 solo piano concerts at local Councils on Aging. 

The American Prize in Composition—INSTRUMENTAL CHAMBER MUSIC, student division, 2017-18

The American Prize winner:
Olga Amelkina-Vera   Plano TX
    Submerged Worlds
Olga Amelkina-Vera
Olga Amelkina-Vera’s works have been called “the discovery of the evening” (Sarasota Herald-Tribune),  “brilliant” (The Royal Gazette), “incandescent” and “hypnotic” (Fort Worth Star Telegram), and “exotic” (Soundboard).  A native of Belarus, Olga has resided in the United States since 1997. She is currently finishing her Master’s in Composition at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.  She also holds MM and DMA degrees in guitar performance from the University of North Texas, as well as a BA Summa Cum Laude from the University of St. Thomas. Olga won first prize in the Japan Guitar Ensemble Composition Competition (2013) and Austin Classical Guitar Society Composition Competition (2009 and 2012).  Most recently, she was named the Irving Symphony Orchestra 2016-2017 SMU Student Composer-in-Residence.  Her compositions for guitar are published by Les Productions d’Oz. She is faculty at Collin College in Plano, TX. To learn more about Olga, please visit

2nd Place:
Neal Endicott   Laingsburg MI
   "Against the Dying of the Light"

Neal Endicott
Neal Endicott is a composer, saxophonist, and educator based out of the Lansing, Michigan area, where he is currently pursuing his Doctorate in Composition at Michigan State University where he studies with David Biedenbender. He holds a Master’s of Music degree in Composition from Western Michigan University where he studied under Dr. Richard Adams. Notable performances of Neal’s work include the premiere of his chamber orchestra composition Digress by the Lviv Philharmonic as a finalist in the 2016 KLK New Music Orient/Occident Composition Competition; the premiere of his string quartet Against the Dying of the Light by the Susan Mayo String Quartet at the 2016 Region VI Conference of the SCI in Wichita, Kansas; the premiere of Come Slowly, Eden by clarinetist Javier Perez-Garrido as part of the Vox Novus Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame concert series in Alicante, Spain; and numerous performances by groups at Western Michigan University.

3rd Place:
Dana Kaufman   Miami FL
    Peaporutus (Concussion)
Dana Kaufman
Dana Kaufman’s works have been heard throughout North America, and in Estonia, the Czech Republic, and Italy. Her music has been featured at venues/festivals including New York Opera Fest, Jordan Hall, soundSCAPE Festival, Boston New Music Festival, Centro Musica Contemporanea di Milano, Charlotte New Music Festival, Opera on Tap Chicago, and Women Composers Festival of Hartford; it has been performed by Great Noise Ensemble, a very small consortium, Na Wai Chamber Choir, Firebird Ensemble, Wet Ink Ensemble, Resound Duo, So Percussion, and members of OperaRox Productions and the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra. Ms. Kaufman has received numerous honors and awards, including a Fulbright Research Grant for ethnomusicology/composition research in Estonia, and recognition from the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards and The American Prize. A DMA Candidate in Composition, she is the first University of Miami Frost School of Music student to be a Dean’s Fellow.

Finalist Honorable Mention:
Jacob Beranek   Oconomowoc WI
    Sonata for Violin and Piano
Jacob Beranek
Jacob Beranek (b. 1998) is a composer and pianist from Oconomowoc, WI. He has won many composition awards, including the national Project 21 Prize for Music Composition, the Wisconsin School Music Association Student Composition Project, and 2nd Place in the National Federation of Music Clubs Junior Composers competition. He studied for three weeks in 2016 at the Curtis Institute of Music’s Young Artist Summer Program, and also regularly attended the Jr. Composers Institute in Minneapolis from 2012-2015. Additionally, Jacob is a serious pianist who won first place in every event entered during the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Wisconsin Federation of Music Clubs State Festivals. An honor student, Jacob is a senior at University Lake School in Hartland, WI, and plans to study composition in college. You can learn more about Jacob and his musical endeavors on his website,

Finalist Honorable Mention:
Jonathan Embry   Fulton NY
    Passacaglia in F Minor, Op. 4, Solo Organ
Jonathan Embry
Originally from Maine, Jonathan Embry is a Doctor of Music student at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, studying organ performance with Hans-Ola Ericsson. Jonathan completed his Master in Sacred Music degree at the University of Notre Dame. He studied organ with Craig Cramer and continuo with Paul Walker. He received a B.M. from Syracuse University where he studied organ with Kola Owolabi and composition with Andrew Waggoner. Jonathan received the Poister Award from Syracuse twice and the Rev. Michael Driscoll Award from Notre Dame. Jonathan has worked at several churches as organist or music director and enjoys playing church services. Jonathan’s compositions have been performed in four countries. His Passacaglia in F Minor had its European premier in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2016. In 2017 Jonathan will be the invited guest artist at the International Organ Festival in Kondopoga, Russia.

Finalist Honorable Mention:
Christopher Lowry   Antioch TN
    "Suite for Violin and Piano, Opus 5"
Christopher Lowry
Nashville native Christopher Lowry is emerging as one of the leading violists and most performed composers of his generation. A two-time winner of the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, Lowry has won prizes in the Lewisville Lake Symphony International String Competition (2015), The Vox Novus Call for Scores "Celebrating 200 Years with the West Point Band" (2017), The American Prize in Composition (Orchestral and Chamber Divisions, 2016), 2016 Oklahoma Youth Winds Composition Competition, 2016 Salford International Composing Contest, 2016 Alabama Symphony Orchestra Call for Scores, 2016 BandWidth Music Festival Call for Scores, 2016 Missouri Composers Orchestra Project Composition Competition, 2016 ABLAZE Orchestral Masters Call for Scores, NAfME Composition Competition (2015, 2012), Frank Van Der Stucken Composition Award (2015), Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra Composition Competition (2015), and the Anton Stadler International Basset Clarinet Composition Competition (2010), among others. Lowry’s orchestral piece Golden Rhapsody received honorable mention in the 2016 Maurice Ravel International Composer’s Competition. He is also a two-time winner of the World Projects Composition Competition, winning in 2015 with Tranquillo for Orchestra (premiered in Carnegie Hall, June 2016) and in 2016 with Calm After - Chorale-Fanfare for Orchestra (to be premiered June 2017, Walt Disney Concert Hall). His music has been recorded by the Brno Filharmonie (Czech Republic) and performed by the Nashville Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Imperial Symphony, Nashville Philharmonic, Louisiana State University Symphony, Austin Peay State University Symphony, Middle Tennessee State University Symphony, Vanderbilt Wind Symphony, Central Band of the Royal Air Force, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band Chamber Ensemble, and many others. A doctoral candidate at LSU, he holds a Master’s Degree from LSU and a Bachelor’s Degree from Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music.


No comments:

Post a Comment