Friday, August 24, 2018

The American Prize ERNST BACON MEMORIAL AWARD recipients recognized for excellence in the performance of American Music

Ernst Bacon as a young man.
The American Prize, the national nonprofit competitions in the performing arts, has recognized ensembles, conductors, soloists and composers for musical excellence within their divisions in the performance of American Music as 2017-18 honorees of The Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music. The honorees include artists at professional, community, college/university, youth, and high school levels, both in this country and abroad.

The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit competitions unique in scope and structure, designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the United States based on submitted recordings. The American Prize has attracted hundreds of qualified contestants from all fifty states since its founding, has awarded more than $50,000 in prizes in all categories since 2010, and is presented annually in many areas of the performing arts. Additional information about the competitions may be found on the website:

The American Prize Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music recognizes and rewards the best performances of American music by ensembles and soloists worldwide, based on submitted recordings. There is no live competition. Applications are accepted from professional, college/university, community and high school age solo artists, chamber ensembles or conducted ensembles, competing in separate divisions, and from composers with excellent recordings of their works. Beginning in 2017, categories were expanded to encompass performances of American music in practically any instrumentation or genre, with very few repertoire restrictions.

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 in 2016 created an annual award in the memory of Ernst Bacon, recognizing the finest performances of American music worldwide.

The First Place winners of The American Prize ERNST BACON MEMORIAL AWARD
in each division for the 2017-18 contest year are:

PROFESSIONAL ensemble division
Solaris Vocal Ensemble
Giselle Wyers, conductor
Seattle WA

COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY ensemble division
SPECIAL PRIZE: Championing the Music of Ernst Bacon
Oklahoma State University Symphony Orchestra
Thomas Dickey, conductor
Stillwater OK
COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY ensemble division
Capital University Chapel Choir and Choral Union
Lynda Hasseler, conductor
Columbus OH

COMMUNITY ensemble division
Vox Nova
Christine Jarquio Nichols, conductor
Columbia MO

YOUTH & HIGH SCHOOL ensemble division
Decatur HS Wind Ensemble
Robert Truan, conductor
Decatur GA

PROFESSIONAL solo artist division
Ann Maire Wilcox-Daehn, soprano,
and Elizabeth Avery, piano
Springfield MO

COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY solo artist division
Corinne Rydman, soprano
San Francisco CA

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


The first place (winning) artist in each division receives a cash award up to $500. All 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 a member of The American Prize's distinguished panel of judges, winners are profiled on The American Prize websites, where links will lead to video and audio excerpts of artist performances.

THE AMERICAN PRIZE—Mission, History & Judges

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 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.


RELATED STORY: THE AMERICAN PRIZE honors Twenty-Two American Orchestras

RELATED STORY: THE AMERICAN PRIZE honors Sixteen American Orchestral Conductors

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