Friday, July 20, 2018

THE AMERICAN PRIZE honors twenty-two American Orchestras

The American Prize, the national nonprofit competitions in the performing arts, has honored twenty-two American orchestras nationwide for musical excellence within their divisions, for community outreach, and educational enrichment. The honorees include ensembles in professional, community, college, university, youth, and high school divisions, representing ten U.S. states.

The First Place orchestras in each division for the 2017-18 contest year are:

Professional Orchestra:
Allentown Symphony, Allentown PA, Diane Wittry, music director 

University Orchestra: Baylor Symphony Orchestra, Waco TX, Stephen Heyde, music director 

College Orchestra: Davidson College Symphony Orchestra, Davidson NC, Tara Villa Keith, music director

Community Orchestra:
Seattle Collaborative Orchestra, Seattle WA, Anna Edwards, music director

Youth Orchestra: Denver Young Artists Orchestra, Denver CO, Wes Kenney, conductor

Public Magnet School Orchestra:
Denver School of the Arts Symphony, Denver CO, Enrique Lasansky, music director

High School Orchestra:
Seven Lakes HS Symphony Orchestra, Katy TX, Desiree Overree & John Mays, conductors

Photos and short biographies of each of these orchestras, as well as those of the runners-up in each division may be found here:

A larger list of orchestras, advanced to the finals earlier this season, may be found here:

Additional information about the competitions may be found on the website:

The first place (winning) orchestra in each division receives a cash award up to $500, depending on the year, the division and the number of applicants. All orchestras receive certificates, written professional adjudication, and regional, national and international recognition based on recorded performances. There is no live competition. In addition to written evaluations from judges, winners are profiled on The American Prize websites, where links will lead to video and audio excerpts of artist performances. The American Prize has awarded more than $50,000 in prizes in all divisions since 2009 and is presented annually in many areas of the performing arts.


The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts grew from the belief that a great deal of excellent music being made in this country goes unrecognized and unheralded, not only in our major cities, but all across the country: in schools and churches, in colleges and universities, and by community and professional musicians.

With the performing arts in America marginalized like never before, The American Prize seeks to fill the gap that leaves excellent artists and ensembles struggling for visibility and viability. The American Prize recognizes and rewards the best America produces, without bias against small city versus large, or unknown artist versus well-known.

David Katz
David Katz is the chief judge of The American Prize. Professional conductor, award-winning composer, playwright, actor and arts advocate, he is author of MUSE of FIRE, the acclaimed one-man play about the art of conducting. Joining Katz in selecting winners of The American Prize is a panel of judges as varied in background and experience as we hope the winners of The American Prize will be. Made up of distinguished musicians representing virtually every region of the country, the group includes professional vocalists, conductors, composers and pianists, tenured professors, and professional orchestra, band and choral musicians.

“Most artists may never win a Grammy award, or a Pulitzer, or a Tony, or perhaps ever even be nominated,” Katz said, “but that does not mean that they are not worthy of recognition and reward. Quality in the arts is not limited to the coasts, or to the familiar names, or only to graduates of a few schools. It is on view all over the United States, if you take the time to look for it. The American Prize exists to encourage and herald that excellence.”

By shining a light on nationally recognized achievement, winners of The American Prize receive world-class bragging rights to use in promotion right at home. “If The American Prize helps build careers, or contributes to local pride, or assists with increasing the audience for an artist or ensemble, builds the donor base, or stimulates opportunities or recruitment for winning artists and ensembles, then we have fulfilled our mission,” Katz said.

The American Prize is administered by Hat City Music Theater, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit performing arts organization based in Danbury, Connecticut.


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