Friday, August 3, 2018

ERNST BACON AWARD (American Music Performance): ensemble divisions, 2017-18

Ernst Bacon
The American Prize is honored to announce WINNERS, runners-up, citation recipients and honorable mentions of the ERNST BACON MEMORIAL AWARD for the PERFORMANCE of AMERICAN MUSIC, 2017-18, in ensemble divisions. Congratulations! (Solo artist division winners of the Bacon Award are posted separately.)

Among the many contests of The American Prize, the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music is unique. It recognizes and rewards the best performances of American music by ensembles and individual artists worldwide, based on submitted recordings. Applications are accepted from professional, college/university, community and high school age solo artists, chamber ensembles and conducted ensembles, competing in separate divisions, and from composers with excellent recordings of their works. Beginning in 2017-18, categories were expanded to encompass performances of American music in practically any instrumentation or genre, with very few repertoire restrictions.

Focused exclusively on works by American composers from any period and in any style, the contest not only judges performances, but in the case of new or unfamiliar works, the music itself.

Ernst Bacon (1898—1990) was one of that pioneering generation of composers who, along with Thomson, Copland, Harris, and others, found a voice for American music. Winner of a Pulitzer Scholarship (for his Symphony in D minor) and no fewer than three Guggenheim Fellowships, Ernst Bacon set out to create compositions that expressed the vitality and affirmative spirit of our country. It is fitting, and with honor, that The American Prize created an annual award in the memory of Ernst Bacon, recognizing the finest performances of American music worldwide. To learn more about the music & legacy of Ernst Bacon, please visit the website of the Ernst Bacon Society.

Questions, or to make us aware of any misprints in the listings below, please email:

The American Prize ERNST BACON MEMORIAL AWARD for the PERFORMANCE of AMERICAN MUSIC, PROFESSIONAL ensemble division, 2017-18

The American Prize winner:
Giselle Wyers, conductor
Solaris Vocal Ensemble
Seattle WA
Floodsongs—Anne LeBaron

Solaris Vocal Ensemble
Solaris Vocal Ensemble consists of 12 professional vocalists from the Seattle area. They seek to encourage a renaissance in innovation in the field of choral music and specialize in new American works, including world premieres. Every project is unique and never repeated.  Their premiere concert featured four American world premieres which culminated in a CD recording available through Albany Records.  In 2015, they launched “Burning the Bridge,” a neo-medieval tale of love and courtship, with a narrative thread stitched between every piece, featuring expressive movement choreographed by a dancer.  Solaris is thrilled to have continued collaborations with Seattle Modern Orchestra, including last month's “Quest”, a program of works by Julia Wolfe, Ted Hearne, and Stuart Dempster, and a full concert honoring American music luminaries Stuart Dempster and Robert Erickson, entitled “Double Portrait.”

Giselle Wyers, founding conductor of Solaris, is the Donald E. Petersen Associate Endowed Professor of Choral Music at the University of Washington. She has conducted All-State and honor choirs in New York (Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center), Georgia, Connecticut, Nebraska, Texas, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, and Vancouver, Canada. She has conducted semi-professional ensembles across the United States and in Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia, and Sweden. She is series editor of the Giselle Wyers Choral Series through Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and is regularly commissioned to compose new works for high school, community, and professionally-based choirs across the United States and in Europe.

Second Place:
Reuben Blundell, conductor
Gowanus Arts Ensemble
Brooklyn NY
“American Romantics”—music by Foote, Busch, Parker, more

Reuben Blundell
The Gowanus Arts Ensemble, with conductor Reuben Blundell, released this CD in April 2016. It garnered outstanding reviews in Gramophone Magazine, American Record Guide, Australia’s Limelight Magazine and other major outlets, and continues to be featured on classical radio.  They recently recorded a second CD, with release anticipated in late 2017.  The group is named after Brooklyn’s Gowanus Arts Building, in a corner of Brooklyn rejuvenating through investment in the environment and the arts.

The Gowanus Arts Ensemble comprises some of New York’s finest musicians, who can be found playing as soloists, in Broadway shows and other major ensembles. For the 2016 CD, its members were violinists Hiroko Taguchi (concertmaster), Orlando Wells, Yuiko Kamakari, Elizabeth Nielsen, and Sarah Zun, violists Entela Barci and Carla Fabiani, cellists Julian Schwarz and Alisa Horn, and bassist Rick Ostrovsky.

Reuben Blundell is Music Director of the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra near Philadelphia, and New York’s Riverside Orchestra. He recently completed eight transformative years with the orchestra at Hunter College (CUNY) and has served as a Chelsea Symphony conductor for five years.  Blundell has performed in his native Australia, in Austria, Chile, Holland, Iraq, Japan, and Lebanon. He conducted the New World Symphony in their 2013 John Cage festival.

After studies in Melbourne and Sydney, he was a Tanglewood Fellow (’02 & ’03) and a principal New World Symphony violinist (2003-05). He attended the Monteux School (’05 & ’06) and Eastman, earning a conducting DMA with Neil Varon and studying violin with Zvi Zeitlin.

Third Place (there was a tie):
Michael S. Horwood, composer
Sinfonia Varsovia 

Ian Hobson, conductor
Joseph Kubera, piano
Warsaw Poland
Intravariations— Horwood

Michael S. Horwood
Michael S. Horwood (b. 1947, Buffalo, NY) studied with Lejaren Hiller, Lukas Foss, and Istvan Anhalt at SUNY Buffalo (BA, MA). His composition career developed with performances, broadcasts, recordings and commissions, while securing professorship at Humber College in Toronto. His 60+ compositions constitute a kaleidoscope of directions including avant-garde, jazz, minimalism, electroacoustic and neo-romanticism. Besides the wide variety, Horwood has an acute sense of sonority and a subtle use of humor. He has composed for conventional ensembles, unusual instrumental combinations, flexible scoring, dance, theater and film. He resides in Tucson, Arizona. 
Sinfonia Varsovia
Sinfonia Varsovia began in 1984 as an expansion of the Polish Chamber Orchestra and was led by Yehudi Menuhin. Krzysztof Penderecki is the current music and artistic director. The Sinfonia Varsovia is a Warsaw cultural institution. It performs at many prestigious concert halls and festivals, working with world renowned conductors and soloists. The orchestra has recorded over 280 CDs, many of which have received impressive prizes.
Ian Hobson
Pianist, conductor, scholar, educator, adjudicator and founder of the Sinfonia da Camera, Ian Hobson is internationally recognized for his extraordinarily comprehensive repertoire new and old, consummate performances of Romantic and contemporary composers. His discography covers over 60 recordings for 10 CD labels.
Joseph Kubera
Joseph Kubera is recognized as a leading interpreter of contemporary music for over 30 years as witnessed by extensive touring, impressive reviews and recordings on 10 different prestigious new music labels. A soloist at numerous new music festivals, he has championed a diverse range of who’s who in contemporary music.

Third Place (there was a tie):
Rain Worthington, composer
Missouri State University Symphony 

Christoper Kelts, conductor
Springfield MO
Tracing a Dream—Worthington

Rain Worthington
“There is a deep interiority to this music . . . Worthington has an instantly recognizable sound, an austere sensuality not quite like anyone else . . . a composer of considerable imagination, emotional expressiveness, and poetic sensibility.” – American Record Guide

Performances of Rain Worthington’s compositions have spanned the globe from Brazil to Iceland to Armenia, with premieres in Tokyo, Oxford University, and the Delhi Music Society in India. Her work takes “. . . ideas of American musical style to a new place – like a walk in a familiar, yet very different park” – Chamber Music magazine

Her catalog includes works for orchestra, mixed chamber ensembles, violin duo, solo marimba and even a miniature for oud. When asked what inspires her music, Rain says the impulses for new pieces have ranged from the sounds of “NYC garbage trucks backing up late in the night, to the two-note expression of a sigh, to a dream of a careening bike ride through dark fog.”

In 2016 Navona Records released Worthington’s CD of orchestral works “DREAM VAPORS” to critical acclaim. That same year Missouri State University Symphony premiered her orchestral work, “Tracing a Dream.” Worthington returned to MSU 2017 as guest composer for a residency and the premiere of “In Passages” – for violin soloist and string orchestra. This work is scheduled for a PARMA Recordings session in 2017 with Croatian conductor, Miran Vaupotić. In addition to composing, Worthington serves as Artistic Administrator/Composer Advocate for the New York Women Composers.
Missouri State University Symphony
Christoper Kelts
The Missouri State University Symphony Orchestra is a full-sized symphonic orchestra that performs from the complete range of symphonic repertoire.  Its members come from all different walks of academic life.  Students performing in the University Symphony are music majors, music minors and non-majors.  The orchestra’s diverse musicians come from all parts of the State of Missouri, the greater mid-west region and as far away as China, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan and Columbia, South America.  Conductor, Christopher Kelts is in his 3rd year as Director of Orchestral Studies.  Concurrently he is Music Director and Conductor of the Kinnor Philharmonic Orchestra, Kansas City Civic Orchestra and artistic partner with Project Musica.  Rain Worthington, American composer, has had a wonderful relationship with the Missouri State University Symphony with this première of Tracing A Dream and a very recent world première of her work In Passages for solo violin & string orchestra.


SPECIAL PRIZE: Championing the Music of Ernst Bacon: 
Thomas Dickey, conductor
Oklahoma State University Symphony Orchestra
Stillwater OK  

music by Bacon (Nantucket Fling), Copland (Our Town), Hanson (Symphony No. 2)

Oklahoma State University Symphony Orchestra
The OSU Symphony Orchestra is one of the School of Visual & Performing Arts’ premier performing ensembles, showcasing some of the university’s finest players performing traditional orchestral repertoire in a series of dynamic concerts.  In addition to approximately five annual performances, the OSUSO also provides music for the Opera Theater’s fully staged productions and serves as the lab orchestra for various academic classes, from composition to orchestral conducting.  The OSUSO is dedicated to the study and performance of significant orchestral music, and to that end often collaborates with faculty and guest soloists in performances of major concerto literature.  In 2013, the OSUSO was a finalist in The American Prize in Orchestral Performance Competition and performed at the College Orchestra Directors Association National Conference in Cleveland, Ohio and the Oklahoma Music Education Association Conference in Tulsa.
Thomas Dickey
Dr. Thomas Dickey is the Director of Orchestral Studies at Oklahoma State University, where he conducts the OSU Symphony Orchestra and guides all aspects of the orchestra and orchestral conducting programs.  He concurrently serves as Music Director & Conductor of the OSU Youth Orchestra and the Stillwater Community Orchestra.  Prior to his appointments in Oklahoma, he was the Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and Music Director & Conductor of the Dubuque Symphony Youth Orchestra (IA).

He holds doctoral and master's degrees in orchestral conducting from the University of Georgia and Louisiana State University, respectively, and graduated with highest honors from Eastern Illinois University. He has worked with conductors such as Carl Topilow, Christopher Zimmerman, Daniel Lewis, Gustav Meier, and Diane Wittry, and further studied conducting at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and numerous workshops and master classes.

The American Prize winner:
Lynda Hasseler, conductor
Capital University Chapel Choir and Choral Union
Columbus OH
the music of Jake Runestad

Capital University Chapel Choir and Choral Union
Since 1929, the Capital University Chapel Choir has upheld the rich Lutheran heritage of fine choral singing and enjoys national and international acclaim as a premier collegiate choral ensemble.The Capital University Choral Union is one of the premier volunteer choirs in central Ohio, distinguished by its keen musicianship and challenging repertoire.
Lynda Hasseler
Lynda Hasseler, D.M.A. is Professor of Music, Director of Choral Activities, and acting Head of the Voice Area in the Conservatory of Music at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, where she directs the Chapel Choir, Choral Union, and vocal chamber ensemble, Philomel; and teaches choral methods and conducting. Nurturing Capital University’s rich choral legacy, the choirs under her direction have received numerous invitations to perform for multiple music regional and national conferences and festivals, have been awarded gold medals in world choral competitions and have toured nationally and internationally.
Jake Runestad
Jake Runestad is an award-winning and frequently-performed composer of “highly imaginative” (Baltimore Sun) and “stirring and uplifting” (Miami Herald) musical works. He has received commissions and performances from leading ensembles around the world. Jake’s visceral music and charismatic personality have fostered a busy schedule of commissions, residencies, workshops, and speaking engagements, enabling him to be one of the youngest full-time composers in the world. Jake Runestad holds a Master’s degree in composition from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University where he studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts. Has has also studied extensively with acclaimed composer Libby Larsen. A native of Rockford, IL, Mr. Runestad is currently based in Minneapolis, MN and his music is published by JR Music.

Second Place (there was a tie):
Stephen Heyde, conductor 
Baylor Symphony Orchestra
Waco TX
Barber—Tocatta Festiva, op. 36
Stucky—Son et Lumiere

Baylor Symphony Orchestra
The Baylor Symphony has an extensive performance schedule, annually presenting six concerts of standard orchestral repertoire, a full opera production, concerto accompaniments, new music readings, choral/orchestral collaborations and a series of children's concerts reaching an audience of over 6000 area schoolchildren.

The featured piece in this application is Son et lumièr by Pulitzer award winning composer Steven Stucky, a Baylor alumnus who passed away February 14, 2016. Other pieces submitted include 2016-17 performances of the Kevin Puts Symphony #2 and the Samuel Barber Tocatta festiva and an earlier Baylor Symphony performance of Christopher Theofanidis’ Rainbow Body.

The Symphony has appeared at the Texas Music Educators Convention eight times,  performed a 2003 PBS Special, “Christmas at Baylor” seen by six million viewers, performed at Piccolo Spoleto Festival and at a national convention of the American String Teachers Association. The Baylor Symphony has collaborated with many distinguished American performers including Van Cliburn, Joseph Gingold, Robert Shaw, Corey Cerovsek, Jacob Druckman, Lorin Hollander, Roberto Diaz, Andrew Balio and Peter Schickele among others. The BSO has taken international tours of Costa Rica (2004) and Belgium (2010) and has won the prestigious American Prize for four consecutive years since 2015. Former members of the BSO have won positions in many professional orchestras including New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Cincinnati and Fort Worth among others.

Second Place (there was a tie):
Chris Younghoon Kim, conductor
Cornell Orchestra 

Richard Faria, clarinet
Ithaca NY
Clarinet Concerto—Joan Tower   

Chris Younghoon Kim
Cornell Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Chris Younghoon Kim, present multiple concerts during each academic school year.  The membership of the orchestra is formed from students of all colleges and departments across the university-wide community.  It is the only non-music major orchestra to win first place among collegiate orchestras the ASCAP award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary music during the 2008-2009 season. It has won the Adventurous awards for 6 years in a row from 2008-2014. For the last seven seasons Cornell Orchestras have been jointly producing the Ithaca International conducting masterclasses with Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra.
Joan Tower  
Joan Tower is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today. During a career spanning more than fifty years, she has made lasting contributions to musical life in the United States as composer, performer, conductor, and educator. Her works have been commissioned by major ensembles, soloists, and orchestras, including the Emerson, Tokyo, and Muir quartets; soloists Evelyn Glennie, Carol Wincenc, David Shifrin, and John Browning; and the orchestras of Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC among others. Tower was the first composer chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission of sixty-five orchestras. Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony recorded Made in America in 2008 (along with Tambor and Concerto for Orchestra). The album collected three Grammy awards: Best Contemporary Classical Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance. Nashville’s latest all-Tower recording includes Stroke, which received a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. In 1990 she became the first woman to win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Silver Ladders, a piece she wrote for the St. Louis Symphony where she was Composer-in-Residence from 1985-88. Other residencies with orchestras include a 10-year residency with the Orchestra of St. Luke's (1997-2007) and the Pittsburgh Symphony (2010-2011). She was the Albany Symphony’s Mentor Composer partner in the 2013-14 season. Tower was cofounder and pianist for the Naumburg Award winning Da Capo Chamber Players from 1970-1985.
Richard Faria
Clarinetist Richard Faria pursues an active career as soloist, chamber musician, and educator. He has been a participant in numerous festivals such as the Bennington Chamber Music Conference, Bard Music Festival of the Hamptons, Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, Skaneateles Festival, Garth Newel Music Festival, and Klasik Keyifler in Cappadocia, Turkey. His chamber music experience includes collaborations with such diverse groups as the Zephyros and Sylvan Wind Quintets, Atlantic, Tetraktys, and Arianna String Quartets, Composers Concordance, Guild Trio, Mother Mallard, and the Young Composer’s Collective in Seattle. He has performed in Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, The Kitchen, Miller Theater, Spivey Hall, the Smithsonian Institution, as well as at the American Academies in Rome and Berlin, Netherlands' De Lakenhal, and the Temple of Apollo in Turkey.

Third Place:
David Hahn, conductor  
Eastman Repertory Singers
Rochester NY   
Fern Hill—John Corigliano

Eastman Repertory Singers
The Eastman Repertory Singers is a mixed 60-voice chorus of Eastman students presenting frequent performances under the direction of graduate students in conducting, in styles ranging from Renaissance madrigals and motets to premieres of contemporary choral works. Recent concerts have included the Haydn Lord Nelson Mass, the Duruflé Requiem, and works of Rachmaninoff, Mozart and Bach. This chorus includes students in vocal performance, conducting, piano, organ, composition, and music education.

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Catherine Sailer, conductor
University of Denver Lamont Chorale
Denver CO
music by Averitt, Takach, Lampi, more

University of Denver Lamont Chorale
The University of Denver Lamont Chorale is the premier choir at the University of Denver, and includes music majors and non-music majors from across the school.  The choir passionately pursues artistic excellence in choral performance and sings diverse repertoire.  Through the Chorale's dedication to performing music of living composers, it has enjoyed collaborations with Tan Dun, Morten Lauridsen, Eric Whitacre, Tim Takach, Ken Lampl,  and many more established and emerging composers and conductors.  The Lamont Chorale has performed for the Colorado Music Educator's Association Conference, and the Regional conference of the American Choral Director's Association.

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Chris David Westover, conductor
Denison University New Music Ensemble
Granville OH  
Bassoon Concertino—Augusta Read Thomas

Denison University New Music Ensemble
Chris David Westover, D.M.A., is Assistant Professor of Music and conductor of the Wind Ensemble at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Westover led wind ensembles, orchestras and operatic performances at Bethel College, the University of Oklahoma and the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU. He is in constant demand as a conductor and has led bands and orchestras in the US and China. His research focuses on the historical sources of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Most recently he presented his scholarship as a guest speaker at the 2016 International Conference on Creativity and Performance at Hong Kong Baptist University.
Chris David Westover
His career spans operatic performances including Falstaff, Don Giovanni, and Iphigenie en Tauride, as well as educational work with young singers and orchestras. Westover commands a broad and diverse repertoire including the core symphonic repertoire and the contemporary repertoire of the symphony orchestra and wind ensemble. He has served as a staff conductor for the TUTTI Festival and the 4x4 Prizes. He has commissioned and premiered works by Brad Baumgardner, Andrew McManus, Michael Kallstrom, David Sterrett and Dan Lazerescou.

In February 2010, Westover led the critically acclaimed Dallas premiere of Daniel Roumain’s “Darwin’s Meditation for the People of Lincoln” during the inaugural season of the renowned Winspear Opera House. The Dallas Morning News said the performance “often shift[ed] between majesty and melancholy, [and] was as powerful an emotional exploration as a historical one.” Westover’s conducting mentors include Jonathan Shames, John Carmichael, Jack Delaney, and Eric Smedley.

The American Prize ERNST BACON MEMORIAL AWARD for the PERFORMANCE of AMERICAN MUSIC, COMMUNITY ensemble division, 2017-18

The American Prize winner:
Christine Jarquio Nichols, conductor
Vox Nova
Columbia MO
music by Lowell Liebermann, William Billings, Moira Smiley, more

Vox Nova
Vox Nova (founded 2014), a vocal chamber group based in Columbia, Missouri, brings friendship and teamwork to its sound. The musicians in the ensemble are established music educators, conductors, and professional vocalists. The members currently come from Columbia, MO, Kansas City, Lawrence, KS, Chicago, Baton Rouge, Colorado, New York City, and Seattle. Many of the members perform with other professional choirs, prominent music festivals, and chamber opera companies, both locally and across the United States. Vox Nova is committed to choral excellence and to spreading choral music to listening audiences. Vox Nova regularly collaborates with native Columbia chamber ensembles and composers. They have been guest artists for the Odyssey Chamber Music Series, the Idaho International Choral Festival, the True/False Film Festival, and MMEA. In 2015, they were selected as national semifinalists in the professional division of The American Prize in Choral Performance, and were 2016 semifinalists in the professional division of The American Prize in Chamber Ensemble Performance. They are the 2017-2018 Ensemble-in-Residence for the Odyssey Chamber Music Series.

Second Place (there was a tie):
Libi Lebel, conductor
Texas Medical Center Orchestra
Houston TX
Appalachian Spring—Copland  

Libi Lebel
Established in November 2000, Texas Medical Center Orchestra (TMCO) is one of very few community orchestras in the United States and the world with its origin in the health professions. It includes physicians, dentists, nurses, medical students, biomedical scientists, social workers and other allied health professionals who are dedicated to making music. Part of the orchestra’s mission is to provide health care professionals a creative outlet; offer affordable concerts to a diverse public audience; and bring public attention and support for, medically related and/or educational charities.

Russian-born conductor Libi Lebel, founder and artistic director of TMCO, has a strong and growing reputation in the music world. Ms. Lebel has been listed as one of the 50 most influential women in Houston, (population over 2 million). She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Julliard School of Music and Westminster Choir College, in piano performance and conducting. Conducting appearances in New Jersey, New York, Texas, Russia and Romania have been met with high praise. In 2013, conductor Lebel led the TMCO in a well-received program at Carnegie Hall. As to her passion about music, Ms. Lebel says: “What inspires me is to make music come alive. To feel the love, pride, joy, sadness. To help it unfold in the most convincing and compelling way. With it, we connect to the very essence of our humanity, we then come into contact with that part of ourselves that expresses our most profound creativity. I am so lucky to have music in my life.”  

Second Place (there was a tie):
Walter Morales, conductor
Edgewood Symphony Orchestra
Pittsburgh PA  
Porgy & Bess Symphonic Picture— Gershwin/Bennett
Barber—Adagio for Strings
Copland—Lincoln Portrait

Walter Morales
Walter Morales is the Music Director of the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra. His previous positions include Music Director of Undercroft Opera, Music Director of the Carnegie Mellon University Contemporary Ensemble, Head of Music of Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic, Assistant Director of Orchestral Studies at Carnegie Mellon University and Assistant Conductor of the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic. He has been a guest conductor with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, Butler County Symphony Orchestra, McKeesport Symphony Orchestra, University of Costa Rica Symphony Orchestra, University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Duquesne University Opera & Orchestra, Pittsburgh Youth Chamber Orchestra and Rutgers Chamber Orchestra.  He has also served as cover conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. For more information please visit:
Edgewood Symphony Orchestra
The Edgewood Symphony Orchestra, a not-for-profit organization, strives to be the best volunteer symphony orchestra in the region while providing cultural experiences to our members and community through challenging symphonic music. The ESO is committed to valuing its members and providing them with the opportunity to improve their technical and musical skills and share their passion through high quality performances and educational outreach.

Third Place:
William P. Gorton, conductor and composer
Members of Philadelphia Orchestra & friends
NJ Master Chorale, Philadelphia Boys Choir
Haddonfield NJ  
Gorton—Te Deum

William P. Gorton
William Gorton is the Director of Sacred Music at Haddonfield United Methodist Church in New Jersey, where he is also Artistic Director/Conductor of the New Jersey MasterChorale, which performs choral masterworks twice yearly with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Friends. Prior to his appointment at HUMC, Dr. Gorton was Assistant Professor of Voice and Opera at Millikin University, where he taught studio voice, served as coach and conductor for the opera program, and directed Tudor Voices, a select chamber choir specializing in early music. William has had a diverse career as singer, voice teacher, composer, and conductor. The Founding Artistic Director of the Central Virginia Masterworks Chorale, he acquired his DMA in Choral Conducting at Arizona State University. While at ASU he also served as Assistant Chorus Master for the Phoenix Symphony Chorus. With a M.M. in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College, William has been a professional tenor and voice teacher, performing opera roles and oratorios with numerous organizations around the United States. Dr. Gorton is also a published composer. His hymn, “O God in Whom We Live,” can be found in Worship and Song, a United Methodist hymnal. World Library Publications has published “The Lord is My Shepherd,” for SATB choir with piano and flute. Hope Publishing recently released his arrangement for SATB choir, piano, and violin obbligato, “Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head.” His opus includes numerous art songs, choral anthems, and church service works, as well as a new orchestral work, “Fantasy on God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” recently performed in concert with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Friends. An April 9, 2017 performance of the Chorale, together with the Philadelphia Boys Choir, included Duruflé’s Requiem, Mozart’s Regina Coeli (K. 247), and the world premiere of Dr. Gorton’s Te Deum, for orchestra, SATB choir (divisi), treble choir, and mezzo-soprano solo.

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Donald L. Appert, conductor and composer
Oregon Sinfonietta
Vancouver WA
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra—Appert

Oregon Sinfonietta
Donald L. Appert
Donald Appert been Music Director/Conductor of the Clark College Orchestra since 1990. He has guest-conducted orchestras in Europe, Central America, Japan and Australia. Currently he is a Full Professor of Music and Head of the Music Department at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. In addition, he is the Music Director/Conductor of the Oregon Sinfonietta and of the Jewish Community Orchestra, both in Portland, Oregon.  He received The American Prize in Orchestral Programming—Vytautas Marijosius  Memorial Award in 2011 for his work with the Oregon Sinfonietta, an Honorable Mention in 2012, 3rd Place in 2014, and 2nd Place in 2015. He was also Honored Artist of the American Prize in 2015. In 2014, he received the Clark County (WA) Arts Commission Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award.  He has received the ASCAPLUS Award numerous times and orchestras in Europe, Central America, Japan, Australia, and the United States have performed his works.  Jeffrey Butler of the Houston Symphony (who commissioned the work) will premiere his latest composition, Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, with the Clark College Orchestra in June of 2018. Videos of his conducting and his original compositions may be seen and heard via the Internet on his web site at

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Thomas Rainey, conductor
Williamson County Symphony Orchestra
Round Rock TX
Gershwin & All That Jazz    

Williamson County Symphony Orchestra
The Williamson County Symphony Orchestra is completing its 15th season.  The 100-member Orchestra is staffed entirely by volunteer musicians and run by volunteer administrators. Most of the musicians are adults working in other professions but who have a great love of music and have performed at high levels earlier in their life.  The musicians consider their efforts as a ministry to the community.

The Orchestra performs FREE "pops-styled" concerts often highlighting American composers in the classical, movie/TV, and contemporary genre and new compositions from our Composer-in-Resident, Dr ML Daniels.  The FREE concerts are pitched toward families, seniors, and people who do not yet know they like great music.  The Orchestra, directed by Dr Thomas Rainey, performs a two-concert series four times a year - Fall, Christmas, Spring, & Outdoor - at venues across Williamson County plus one FREE concert for the troops and their families at Ft Hood.

The Orchestra's March 2016 concert series was devoted to that most American form of music - jazz. The theme Gershwin and All That Jazz  had numerous samples of George Gershwin's "classical" music along with the great music of Duke Ellington and some of Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong's top hits.  One could hear the influence of Jazz in the selection of movie music by Henry Mancini.  The Orchestra's focus was to demonstrate how "classical" the jazz idiom has become.

Finalist—Honorable Mention:
Douglas Anderson, conductor
The Putnam Chorale
Carmel NY
Casey at the Bat—William Schuman

The Putnam Chorale
The Putnam Chorale, under the artistic direction of composer/conductor Dr. Douglas Anderson, is the sole community chorus in Putnam County, NY. Founded 1984, the Chorale has been providing high quality choral and orchestral music and academic commentary ever since. The two-fold mission of the Chorale is to provide amateur and aspiring professional singers an opportunity to enrich their lives through choral singing and to provide the community with compelling performance experiences unrivaled outside of major city venues. Chorale choristers come from Putnam, Westchester, and Dutchess counties and nearby Connecticut.  Music Director Douglas Anderson, currently a Professor of Music on the faculty of Borough of Manhattan Community College, is a conductor, composer, educator, and producer who has been active in the New York music scene for over 40 years.  He founded the American Chamber Opera Company in 1984 and conducts the Downtown Symphony in New York City.

The American Prize ERNST BACON MEMORIAL AWARD for the PERFORMANCE of AMERICAN MUSIC, YOUTH & HIGH SCHOOL ensemble division, 2017-18

The American Prize winner:
Robert Truan, conductor
Decatur HS Wind Ensemble
Decatur GA  
American Salute—Gould

Decatur HS Wind Ensemble
This is Robert Truan’s third year as Director of Bands for Decatur High School where he teaches Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, IB Music, and other chamber ensembles.  While at Decatur, his ensembles have won a Grand Championship at the Southern Invitational Music Festival, have performed at the Georgia Music Educator’s Association Convention twice, and have performed at the Cork School of Music in Ireland.  His ensembles have also received straight superior ratings at Large Group Performance Evaluation.  This is the second year Decatur has differentiated its band classes in two groups: Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band.  After Wind Ensemble’s inaugural year, our recorded submission was selected to headline Music for All’s Southeastern Regional Concert Band Festival. Robert Truan is heavily influenced by his wonderful mentors throughout the years: Reid Hall, Richard Brasco, Dr. Tony McCutchen, John Culvahouse, Dr. John P. Lynch, Dr. Laura Moates Stanley, and Jack Jean.  Mr. Truan graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Georgia and has a Master’s degree in Music Education.

Second Place:
Michael Isadore, conductor
Dulles HS Honors Orchestra  
Sugar Land TX
Visions and Miracles—Theofanidis
Autumn Rhapsody—Jalbert

Dulles HS Honors Orchestra 
Located in Sugar Land, TX, The John Foster Dulles Orchestra program is one of the largest orchestra programs in Fort Bend ISD and one of the premiere orchestra programs in the state of Texas.  Located in Sugar Land, a southwest suburb of Houston, Fort Bend County and Dulles High School are among the most diverse schools in America. The orchestra program in Fort Bend ISD began in 1990 and Dulles High School has only had two orchestra directors.  Michael Isadore became the director of orchestras in 1999 and today the program boasts over 170 members.  The Dulles Orchestra has been consistently awarded the Mark of Excellence National Honor Orchestra Award and Commended Award in the string and full orchestra categories, been runner up for TMEA Honor Orchestra and has performed at the Midwest Clinic in 2004 and 2016.

Third Place:
Carolyn Watson, conductor
Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra
Interlochen MI
The Improvised Violin Concerto—Mark O'Connor

Carolyn Watson
A major prizewinner at the 2012 Emmerich Kálmán International Operetta Conducting Competition in Budapest, Carolyn Watson was also a Fellow of the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival where she studied with David Zinman. She has conducted throughout Europe with orchestras including Staatsoper Berlin, Brandenburger Symphonkier, BBC Concert Orchestra, North Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Kodály Philharmonic, Savaria Symphony Orchestra (Hungary), Budapest Operetta Theatre, and Bulgarian State Opera Bourgas. In 2016 Carolyn was one of ten conductors selected for the elite Dallas Opera Institute for Women Conductors and has participated in master classes with Marin Alsop, Peter Eötvös, Yoel Levi, Martyn Brabbins and Alex Polishchuk.

Carolyn conducted musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic in Interaktion 2010, was resident assistant at the Israeli National Opera in 2009 and has worked with conductors including Sir Charles Mackerras, Simone Young and Karen Kamensek. She is the recipient of the Brian Stacey Award for Emerging Australian Conductors, Charles Mackerras Conducting Prize awarded by the Australian Music Foundation in London, Nelly Apt Scholarship and Opera Foundation Australia’s Bayreuth Opera Award and Berlin New Music Opera Award. Carolyn holds a PhD in Performance (Conducting) from the University of Sydney where the subject of her doctoral thesis was Gesture as Communication: The Art of Carlos Kleiber.

An enthusiastic music educator, Carolyn is currently Director of Orchestral Studies at Texas State University and enjoys an active freelance career throughout the US, Europe and Australia. From 2013-15 she held the prestigious position of Conductor of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, having also conducted the World Youth Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra since moving to the US in 2013.



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