Friday, May 10, 2019

WINNERS: composers (choral octavos), 2018-19

The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts, David (Volosin) Katz, chief judge, is honored to announce the winners, runners-up and honorable mention of The American Prize in Composition, 2018-19, in the choral music division (octavos). Winners in the choral division (major works) will be announced separately. 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: Because of many requests from artists with late spring and early summer performances, The American Prize 2019-20 will accept applications from CLASSICAL VOCALISTS, PIANISTS, CHAMBER ENSEMBLES and INSTRUMENTAL SOLOISTS postmarked or emailed by the new extended deadline date of Monday, July 1, 2019. Applications from COMPOSERS, CONDUCTORS, STAGE DIRECTORS, CONDUCTED ENSEMBLES, ARTS MARKETERS and in the performance of American Music (BACON AWARD) will be accepted until Monday, August 5, 2019. (Please note that although the dates on the application forms may not be changed, rest assured that your materials will be accepted if sent by the new deadline dates in the respective contest areas.)

Please make us aware of any misprints:

The American Prize in Composition—Choral octavos (professional division), 2018-19

The American Prize winner:
Kyle Pederson
Eagan MN
Can We Sing the Darkness to Light? Psallite; In the Beginning; Stars; A Mighty Fortress is our God   

Kyle Pederson
Kyle Pederson is a Minneapolis-based composer, lyricist, pianist, and educator. He enjoys working at the intersection of the sacred and secular, and his lyrics and music invite the choir and audience to be agents of hope, grace, and compassion in the world. Kyle has won awards for his choral works from Cerddorion Choral Ensemble of NYC, National Lutheran Youth Choir, and Little Singers of Armenia.  Recent commissions include AMIS International High School Honors Choir, TAISM International Choral Festival, Minnesota ACDA All-State High School Treble Chorus, and Choral Arts Initiative.  Several of Kyle’s choral pieces are featured in the commercially released New Choral Voices Volume II and III by Ablaze Records. Kyle’s work also includes two critically acclaimed piano-based albums, Renewal and 12.25, both collections of acoustic hymn arrangements. Kyle has an undergraduate degree from Augustana University, a Masters Degree in Education from University of St. Thomas, and an MFA in Music Composition from Vermont College of Fine Art. Additional information and links to Kyle’s music can be found at, with select scores available from Walton, Santa Barbara, Galaxy, and Carl Fischer music publishers.

2nd Place:
Paul David Thomas
Denton TX
Out Damned Spot   

Paul David Thomas
Paul David Thomas is an assistant professor and coordinator of music theory at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, TX. Paul's acoustic and electronic music has been presented at venues, conferences, and festivals throughout the North America and Europe. His wide range of compositional interests include writing for performer and live electronics, group improvisation,
and choral ensembles of all skill levels. Additionally, Paul is an active new music performer, regularly performing his own works for accordion and computer. Originally from northeastern Ohio, Paul holds degrees in composition from Bowling Green State University (MM) and the University of
North Texas (PhD). Paul's choral music is published through Hal Leonard, Carl Fischer, and BriLee Press.

3rd Place (there was a tie):
Daniel Elder
Nashville TN
Three Nocturnes (Ballade to the Moon; Star Sonnet; Lullaby) 

Daniel Elder
As a prolific writer of vocal and instrumental music, Daniel Elder (b. 1986) ties these genres together to create forms and aesthetics that are at once lyrical and textural, drawing its roots particularly from the impressionist movement. Critics have hailed his works as “deeply affecting” and "without peer," with emotional evocations ranging from lush lyricism to jagged polyphony. Daniel’s compositions have won recognition from The American Prize, The Simon Carrington Chamber Singers, Cantus, and many others, including a recording by the Grammy-award-winning Eric Whitacre Singers made at Abbey Road Studios as part of their 80th Anniversary Anthem Competition. The first commercial album of Daniel's choral works, "The Heart's Reflection: Music of Daniel Elder," was released in October 2013 by Westminster Choir College (Princeton, NJ) and Naxos of America, and debuted at #53 on the overall classical Billboard chart. Daniel currently resides in Nashville, TN as a full-time freelance composer. 

3rd Place (there was a tie):
Michael Rickelton
Baltimore MD 

Michael Rickelton
Michael Rickelton’s music "seizes the ear" (Gramophone). An experienced composer of solo, chamber, and orchestral works, Michael has a particularly strong and critically-acclaimed affinity for the voice. "There is a quality that distinguishes his music, catching one's ear in beauty and style" (soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson). Michael's works have been performed throughout the United States and abroad. Recently, his works have been played by the Nashville, Baltimore, and Peabody Symphonys, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, the Pacific Chorale, and the Choir of the Washington National Cathedral. Recent seasons have included stints as composer-in-residence with The Bridge Ensemble and St. David's Episcopal Church in Baltimore. His composition Pentecost for SATB chorus and piano was recently recorded by The John Alexander Singers and released on Delos records. Albany Records recently released “Time and Memory”, an album dedicated to Michael’s works for voice and piano. For more information, please visit

Finalist Honorable Mention:
Michael Bussewitz-Quarm
Sound Beach NY
My Name is Lamiya—Don't Call me “Refugee”

Michael Bussewitz-Quarm
Michael Bussewitz-Quarm has become one of America’s most recent emerging composers, specializing in choral works commissioned by consortiums around social and environmental issues.

After recently awarded a performance of “I’ll Fly Away” in the International Society of Contemporary Music’s New Music Days 2017 in Vancouver, BC, Michael is newly published by Peermusic Classical.

Michael’s most recent works include the commissioned work “The Road That Has No End", “Nigra Sum", and the final edition of Requiem Dies Magna, premiered by Long Island Voices and Sound Symphony under Michael’s direction in 2017. Michael is currently under commission by the Women’s Voices Chorus of Chapel Hill, NC. for “Only Time to Love: Gaaggee Zaag’aa" and The First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh with Calvary United Methodist Church for the former’s 125th anniversary celebration, for “Awake!”.

Current choral projects include the “Child Refugee Awareness" Choral Consortium Project and “The Great American Choral Reef Challenge”, both actively recruiting choirs and the latter to be premiered on and around Earth Day, 2019. With these songs, Michael hopes to bring attention to the children of the global refugee crisis as well as the urgency to respond to climate change.

Michael has recently launched three additional consortiums, one for Women’s and Treble Choirs at the Collegiate and High School levels called "Radium Girl" Commissioning Consortium which will be written to bring attention to women’s and worker’s rights, the commissioning choirs of The Unarmed Child, to be premiered during the 2019-2020 choral season, and the commissioning choirs of Mass of the Refugee for SATB choir, violin, cello, oud, piano and percussion for state premieres in 2020-2021.

Originally from Long Island, New York, Michael grew up as a baritone saxophonist and as accompanist and a tenor in the school’s chorus. Michael attended Ithaca College (BM ’94), for piano performance and music education, and Queen’s College (MM ’99) for music education.

Michael is also active in advocating for the transgender community. “It is my fervent wish to spread knowledge and understanding of the transgender community through guest speaking and by simply being present in the lives of the talented musicians and artists surrounding me.”


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