Friday, September 4, 2020

Winners: ORCHESTRAS, 2019-20


The American Prize wishes everyone safety and health during this difficult time.


The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts, David (Volosin) Katz, chief judge, is honored to announce the winners, runners-up, and citation recipients of The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2019-20, in all 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.

COVID EXTENSIONS: Because of the current national and international situation, many rules have been changed and requirements eased to make it easier to apply for The American Prize 2020-21. In addition, application deadlines have been extended. We will accept applications from COMPOSERS, CLASSICAL VOCALISTS, PIANISTS, CHAMBER ENSEMBLES and INSTRUMENTAL SOLOISTS postmarked or emailed by Wednesday, September 9, 2020. Applications from CONDUCTORS, STAGE DIRECTORS, CONDUCTED ENSEMBLES, ARTS ADMINISTRATORS (arts marketing, arts education) and in the performance of American Music (BACON AWARD) will be accepted until Wednesday, September 9, 2020. Further extensions may be granted pending the most current information about the virus.

Please make us aware of any misprints: theamericanprize@gmail.com


The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, professional division, 2019-20
 

The American Prize winner:
Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra         
Matthew Scinto 
Harwich Port  MA      

Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra         
Founder and Music Director Matthew Scinto has a vision for the future of classical music on Cape Cod; by collaborating with local Cape individuals, arts organizations, and local causes, our orchestra aims to create a unique concert experience while providing high quality, enriching, and memorable orchestral music. Past season projects have included collaborations with poet Judy Askew, the Harwich Guild of Artists, the Edward Gorey House, and the Whydah Pirate Museum.
Recently named the "Best New Cultural Attraction of 2019" by Yankee Magazine, we believe the key to inspiring our audience is by infusing contemporary music with local Cape flavor, performing music by traditionally under-represented composers, and engaging with our audiences on a deeply personal level.


2nd Place:
McKinney Philharmonic Orchestra
Jason Lim
McKinney TX
McKinney Philharmonic Orchestra
The McKinney Philharmonic Orchestra was founded by Artistic Director Jason Lim as the Odysseus Chamber Orchestra in May 2012 in Denton, Texas. The orchestra consists of professional classical musicians from the Dallas/Fort Worth area dedicated to deepening, strengthening and broadening the organization’s relationship with the communities it serves
through music.

In its short history, the orchestra has garnered a growing national reputation as an emerging ensemble, winning second and third prizes in the American Prize Competition for professional orchestras in 2014 and 2015, respectively. In 2016, the orchestra was awarded the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for excellence in performing American Music. In addition, the orchestra has supported local service clubs like the Denton Breakfast Kiwanis Club and the Robson Ranch Kiwanis Club, and sponsored events such as the Eliminate Project Cruise and the Passing of the Banner Dinner. In recent years, it has expanded its outreach by providing free chamber music series concerts, free amenity concerts in neighborhoods, educational school performances and collaborating with the Arts and Music Guild to organize the Summer Music Intensives. In 2017, exciting new programs were launched such as the Young Artist Viola Competition– the first of its kind in North Texas; the Mentorship Program, which provides high school orchestra students the opportunity to rehearse and perform side-by-side with members of the professional orchestra; and the Greater North Texas Youth Orchestra.

In 2019, the organization changed its name to the McKinney Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) to better reflect its growing ties with and support received from the City of McKinney.


The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, college/university division, 2019-20

The American Prize winner:
Baylor University Symphony Orchestra        
Stephen Heyde  
Waco    TX      

Baylor University Symphony Orchestra        
The 90 students of the Baylor Symphony annually present six concerts of standard repertoire, opera productions, concerto accompaniments, new music readings, choral collaborations and children's concerts which reach 6000 area schoolchildren.

The Symphony has appeared at the T.M.E.A. Convention eight times, at Piccolo Spoleto and national conventions of A.S.T.A and CODA and recorded a PBS Special seen by six million viewers. The BSO 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, taken international tours of Costa Rica (2004) and Belgium (2010) and has won the prestigious American Prize four consecutive times (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018).

Former members of the BSO have won positions in many professional orchestras including New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Cincinnati and Fort Worth among others.


2nd Place:
University of Kansas Symphony Orchestra 
Carolyn Watson 
Lawrence KS  

University of Kansas Symphony Orchestra 
The University of Kansas Symphony Orchestra (KUSO) is one of the outstanding collegiate orchestras in the country. KUSO provides performance majors the highest quality preparation for a professional career in orchestral playing. KUSO offers a comprehensive course of orchestral studies and performs repertoire spanning from the Baroque to the 21st century, including premieres of new works.  In addition to large-scale symphonic programming, each season includes performances of major solo works featuring faculty, student, and leading international guest artists who recently have included Blake Pouliot, Joshua Roman and Simone Porter. The KU Symphony Orchestra also regularly collaborates with KU Theatre and KU Opera productions, for whom it is the resident ensemble. The orchestra combines with KU Choirs for the immensely popular annual Holiday Vespers concerts and other choral/orchestral literature throughout the year, and showcases the works of student composers in the KU Composition studio.  KUSO's concert stage is the magnificent 2,000-seat Lied Center of Kansas and the orchestra also regularly performs at the nationally renowned Kauffman Center in Kansas City. https://music.ku.edu/orchestra

Carolyn Watson is Director of Orchestral Studies at The University of Kansas. A major prizewinner at the 2012 Emmerich Kálmán International Operetta Conducting Competition in Budapest, Carolyn was a Fellow of the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival where she studied with David Zinman. She has conducted orchestras throughout Europe, Australia and the US. From 2013-15 she held the position of Music Director of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, and has conducted the Dallas Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Austin Symphony, Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra and World Youth Symphony Orchestra. 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.  www.carolyn-watson.com


3rd Place (there was a tie): 
Miami University Symphony Orchestra     
Ricardo Averbach
Oxford   OH

Miami University Symphony Orchestra     
The Miami University Symphony Orchestra (MUSO), with a history dating back to 1890, is dedicated to the quality performance of the orchestral repertoire from the Baroque era until our days, including world premieres by contemporary composers. The ensemble combines undergraduate and graduate students of all majors in pursue of high artistic standards, as well as the professional and artistic growth of its members.

The ensemble has an extensive performance schedule on and off campus, which includes in addition to the orchestral repertoire, a full opera production, concertos with renowned soloists as well as student soloists, choral-symphonic repertoire, ballet and music from other traditions and genres.

Director of Orchestral Studies at Miami University of Ohio since 2002, Brazilian conductor Ricardo Averbach has also served as President of the College Orchestra Directors Association (CODA) and guest conductor of professional orchestras in almost 20 countries.

As a dedicated advocate of contemporary music, Dr. Averbach has performed and recorded several world premieres for major labels, which have sold more than half a million copies around the globe. In 2018 he was the recipient of the Ohio Governor’s Award in the Individual Artist category. Averbach is passionate about working in a university environment, and challenging his students to think out of the box and use music as a tool for civil engagement, cultural erudition and artistic refinement.


3rd Place (there was a tie):
University of Washington Symphony Orchestra  
David A. Rahbee 
Seattle  WA
    
University of Washington Symphony Orchestra  
The top orchestral ensemble on campus, performing major symphonic literature, giving 6-7 concerts per year (an average of 2 per quarter). This orchestra is made up of music majors and non majors alike. Seating auditions are held at the start of each academic year; seating rotates throughout the year. Open to both undergrads and graduate students. Non music majors who may not be enrolled in lessons with faculty are welcome and are strongly encouraged to participate.

Led by Director of Orchestral Activities David Alexander Rahbee, the orchestra participates in ongoing collaborations with well known soloists, grammy award winning faculty including conductors Ludovic Morlot (Affiliate Professor of conducting) and Stephen Stubbs (Pacific MusicWorks), side-by-side concerts with Seattle Symphony and Pacific MusicWorks, a yearly performance in Benaroya Hall, as well as yearly collaborations with chorus. Also from time to time the orchestra is split up into smaller orchestras known as the UW Chamber Orchestra.


Finalist Honorable Mention: 
OSU Symphony Orchestra 
Dr. Thomas  Dickey 
Stillwater   OK     

OSU Symphony Orchestra 
The OSU Symphony Orchestra is one of the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music's 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 seven 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.


Finalist Honorable Mention: 
Davidson College Symphony Orchestra
Tara Villa Keith  
Davidson NC   
 
Davidson College Symphony Orchestra
The Davidson College Symphony Orchestra (DCSO), directed by Tara Villa Keith, is an active undergraduate ensemble in a top ten liberal arts setting. Winners of The American Prize in Orchestral Performance 2017-18, college division, the DCSO is composed of approximately fifty musicians, including students, faculty, and community members. Every January, the orchestra tours regionally, performing concerts and giving clinics at various schools and churches. As a local orchestral hub, DCSO performs in seven to ten concerts each season, features local and internationally-renowned guest artists and winners of the student concerto competition, and serves as a workshop orchestra for student conductors.  The DCSO is also in its eleventh season of Concerts for a Cause, in which ticket sales and/or donations are accepted at the door at each of its main concerts.  One-hundred percent of the donations are given to various charitable organizations.  Please visit us at www.davidson.edu/academic-departments/music/ensembles/symphony-orchestra.


The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, community division, 2019-20

The American Prize winner: 
Los Angeles Doctors Symphony       
Ivan Shulman
Los Angeles  CA     

Los Angeles Doctors Symphony       
The Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra is one of the oldest medically oriented community orchestras in the country. Over the years the orchestra has broadened its membership to encompass musicians with diverse backgrounds including the legal profession, science, and education, as well as other dedicated amateur musicians. Our mission is to offer high-quality affordable concerts to the diverse communities of Southern California, to support important medical causes, to partner with groups that support young musicians in their pursuit of the discipline and joys found in musical expression, and to provide musical growth and fellowship for its performing members.  We perform four programs each year in a variety of venues, featuring soloists from the Los Angeles area, exploring not only the classics but new music as well as less commonly heard works from the past. We strive for high quality performances which we hope meet these goals.


2nd Place:
Texas Medical Center Orchestra     
Libi Lebel
Houston  TX       
 
Texas Medical Center Orchestra     
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. The orchestra made its debut in Carnegie Hall in 2013 conducted by Libi Lebel.

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. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Julliard in piano performance and a master’s from Westminster Choir College in conducting. She has conducted in New Jersey, New York, Texas, Russia and Romania. Since its inception in 2000, conductor Lebel has led TMCO in notable achievements: performing in  Carnegie Hall and winning first place, community orchestra division of the national American Prize competition. She is dedicated to highlighting the interplay of music, visual arts and dance. She champions music outreach to Houston schools. Ms. Lebel says: “What inspires me is to make music come alive. It affords us an opportunity to connect to the very essence of our humanity, expressing our most profound creativity.”


3rd Place (there was a tie):
Midwest Philharmonic Orchestra     
Taka Matsunaga          
Schaumburg   IL   
   
Midwest Philharmonic Orchestra     
Midwest Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO, founder Taka Matsunaga) started as Midwest Chamber Strings in 2007 and became a full orchestra in 2010. In addition to hosting 2 annual concerts each year, MPO has traveled to Detroit in 2015 to perform at “Summer in the Park Classical Tuesday”. In March 2016, MPO has made its debut to perform at Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center in Chicago to appear at The 6th Annual Chicago International Music Festival. In 2017, MPO had the first oversea tour to Vienna and Salzburg. In March 2018, MPO traveled to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall for 2 consecutive nights. In April 2020, MPO is going back to Symphony Center to perform Dvorak’s 6th Symphony. In the summer of 2020, MPO will travel to Prague, Bratislava and Budapest for 8 nights 10 days concert tour.


3rd Place (there was a tie):
Parthenon Chamber Orchestra        
David P. Sartor 
Nashville TN      

Parthenon Chamber Orchestra        
In the Nashville area there is a need for a chamber orchestra that performs not only historical literature but works by living composers - especially those in Middle Tennessee. The Parthenon Chamber Orchestra is an exciting and dynamic ensemble chartered in 2015 to fulfill both aspects of that mission.

The name "Parthenon" was selected because the Parthenon replica in Centennial Park is unique to Nashville, and Nashville is known as "the Athens of the South." The orchestra includes some of the finest musicians in the Nashville area, and David P. Sartor is the Music Director.


Finalist Honorable Mention: 
Seattle Collaborative Orchestra    
Anna Edwards
Seattle  WA 
 
Seattle Collaborative Orchestra    
The Seattle Collaborative Orchestra (SCO) is a diverse, multigenerational performing arts organization dedicated to promoting diversity in symphonic classical music. SCO musicians include approximately 80 students, community members, and professionals who work together to create a unique and collaborative musical experience that represents a creative mix of traditional orchestral music, works by female composers, composers of color and emerging Pacific Northwest performing artists.

Our musical goals create engaging, educational, and collaborative experience by coupling committed student and community members with experienced professionals representing premier Seattle-area ensembles. Our organization provides an avenue for professional musicians wishing to contribute to the sustainability of orchestral music through nurturing and mentoring students within a challenging performance experience. Working alongside professional musicians, students learn to reach higher levels of musicianship and develop traits of professional responsibility.


Finalist Honorable Mention: 
Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra  
Peter Wilson      
Waynesboro   VA 
     
Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra 
The Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1996 as the Waynesboro Community Orchestra under the baton of Eric Stassen. In its debut concert, 23 musicians performed works by Lully, Bach and Haydn. In the Orchestra’s 10 season, the organization officially adopted its current name. In 2006, Jean Montès succeeded Mr. Stassen, leading the ensemble for a single season. In May 2007, Peter Wilson was appointed the WSO’s 3rd Music Director. Highlights from recent seasons include performances of Strauss’ “Death and Transfiguration,” Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Shostakovitch's 5th Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony, Holst’s “The Planets,” Brahms’ 3rd Symphony, Saint-Saëns’ 3rd “Organ” Symphony and Mahler's Symphony No. 1. In addition, the orchestra regularly collaborates with professional soloists while remaining deeply committed to the WSO String School, which provides free violins and free weekly lessons to Boys and Girls Club members. The organization recently completed its 23rd Season.


The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, youth orchestra division, 2019-20

The American Prize winner: 
Houston Youth Symphony 
Michael Webster     
Houston  TX 
      
Houston Youth Symphony 
Founded in 1946, Houston Youth Symphony (www.HoustonYouthSymphony.org) is the recipient of national acclaim, including the 2018 first-prize winner of the Mark of Excellence Award from The Foundation for Music Education and the 2017-18 American Prize. Under the direction of Artistic Director Dr. Michael Webster, this season 430 musicians between the ages of seven and 19 come from across the greater Houston area to perform in one of five HYS orchestras. In addition to the core orchestra program, HYS offers advanced musicians a chamber music training program and an annual concerto competition. In the community, HYS provides access to free music education through the Melody Program, providing free private music lessons, and the Coda Music Program, an after-school effort at six area elementary schools modeled after El Sistema.


2nd Place:
Denver Young Artists Orchestra     
Wes Kenney
Denver   CO    
  
Denver Young Artists Orchestra     
The Denver Young Artists Orchestra (DYAO) was formed in 1977 under the auspices of the Denver Symphony Orchestra, now the Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO).  It was started as a means for Colorado’s most talented young musicians to rehearse and perform together under demanding professional standards. DYAO has operated independently since 1979, and has maintained a close relationship with the CSO, now an affiliate organization.


The mission of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra Association (DYAO) is to provide the finest possible youth orchestra programs, inspiring and educating young musicians through the performance of great works of music, and offering valuable cultural opportunities to the community. For thirty-nine years, DYAO has nurtured the talents of the Rocky Mountain region’s finest young musicians. Today, the organization’s five orchestras and group strings classes train nearly 250 students ages seven to twenty-three annually.

Wes Kenney has been the Music Director and Conductor for the Young Artists Orchestra since 2013.  In the past two seasons, DYAO has received the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts as well as The American Prize for performance of American music. www.dyao.org


3rd Place: 
Elite Academy for Strings Chamber  
Michael Shane Wittenburg         
Engelwood Cliffs  NJ  
   
Elite Academy for Strings Chamber  
Currently in its second season, the Elite Academy for Strings Chamber Orchestra is an ensemble of string players drawn from the greater New York Metropolitan area. An initiative of the Elizabeth Faidley Violin Studio, the Chamber Orchestra is is the capstone ensemble of the Elite Academy program, a pre-college with intensive chamber music and smaller violin ensemble training. Led by it's music director Michael Shane Wittenburg,The Chamber Orchestra's inaugural performance was given this past May in the Riverside Theater at New York's Riverside Church, and some of the members subsequently participated in a performance tour of Austria and Hungary including Salzburg Cathedral and St. Stephen's in Vienna, also led by Maestro Wittenburg.


Finalist Honorable Mention:
All About Music San Diego          
Mary Gerard 
San Diego  CA

All About Music San Diego          
All About Music San Diego is a youth orchestra that began ten years ago in 2009. It consists of middle school, high school and college age children.  We meet once per week on Saturdays for our 2 1/2 hour rehearsal.  We play the masterpieces of music on the highest level similar to a professional Symphony Orchestra in venues throughout San Diego. We dig deep in rehearsals to understand the emotional content and stylistic meaning of each phrase. What makes this organization unique is the fun we have along the path to seeking greatness.  Coaches play side by side with students, setting professional examples of the style, techniques, and phrasing that is required to bring out the deepest meaning of the compositions.  The orchestra performs in venues throughout San Diego. www.allaboutmusicsd.com


The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, school division, 2019-20

The American Prize winner:
Denver School of the Arts Orchestra
Enrique Lasansky
Denver   CO

Denver School of the Arts Orchestra
DSAO is an intensive program for string musicians seeking to develop their talent, understanding, and passion for music. As the Rocky Mountain Region’s only public 6-12 school for the arts, and a member of the Denver Public Schools, DSA welcomes promising young students who seek a challenging and inspiring environment in which to pursue their musical passion.

The DSAO serves talented and dedicated string musicians who play the violin, viola, cello or double bass. Our program explores a diverse spectrum of musical styles and genres with an emphasis on classical technique and repertoire. Admittance into the program is by successful audition. Auditions are open to any student living in the United States. Although most of our students come from Colorado, students from as far away as Texas, Wisconsin and Florida have recently joined our orchestras.


2nd Place: 
Seven Lakes HS Symphony Orchestra  
Desiree Overree
Katy  TX     
 
Seven Lakes HS Symphony Orchestra  
During the past fourteen years of our campus’ existence, the Seven Lakes Orchestras have striven to be a leader in musical performance through innovative programming and performances. Since its opening, the ensembles have earned top honors at local, regional, and state contests, as well as performed at major venues, including the Meyerson Symphony Hall and Chicago’s Symphony Center. The Symphony Orchestra, which is comprised of the top two string orchestras and wind symphony students at SLHS, annually places in the top 8 orchestras in TMEA’s Honor Orchestra competition. In 2016, they were named the TMEA Honor Full Orchestra and performed at their annual convention in front of thousands of music educators. The Foundation of Music Education has named the Symphony Orchestra a National Winner in the Mark of Excellence / National Honors Project for the past four years. In 2017, the Symphony Orchestra won the American Prize in Music (High School Division), with the Sinfonia Orchestra earning First Runner-Up. Seven Lakes High School is located in Katy, Texas. The ensemble is conducted by Desiree Overree and John Mays.


3rd Place:
Seven Lakes HS Sinfonia Orchestra  
Desiree Overree
Katy  TX      

Seven Lakes HS Sinfonia Orchestra  
During the past fourteen years of our campus’ existence, the Seven Lakes Orchestras have striven to be a leader in musical performance through innovative programming and performances. Since its opening, the ensembles have earned top honors at local, regional, and state contests, as well as performed at major venues, including the Meyerson Symphony Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center, and Indianapolis’ Hilbert Hall. The Sinfonia Orchestra, which is the top string ensemble, annually places in the top ten orchestras in TMEA’s Honor Orchestra competition. The Foundation of Music Education has named the Sinfonia Orchestra a National Winner in the Mark of Excellence / National Honors Project for the past four years. In 2017, the Symphony Orchestra won the American Prize in Music (High School Division), with the Sinfonia Orchestra earning First Runner-Up. Seven Lakes High School is located in Katy, Texas. The ensemble is conducted by Desiree Overree.
 
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Congratulations!

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