On December 11, 2013, award-winners in over 50 categories spanning composers writing for symphony orchestra and chamber ensembles, jazz groups, musical theatre, film and television, as well as rock, R&B, country and children’s songwriters, were honored at the ASCAP Foundation’s 18th Annual Awards Ceremony, which was held at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Allen Room in the Time Warner Building in New York City.
The top award of the evening, the Champion Award, was awarded to R&B songwriter, recording artist and record producer Ne-Yo. The inaugural George M. Cohan Award, presented to “a multi-talented individual connected to the music industry who [like Cohan] has had a multi-faceted career and has achieved success in a variety of roles,” was given to Martin Charnin; though probably best known as the lyricist for the Broadway musical Annie, Charnin sang and danced in the original cast of West Side Story, has directed plays, and has composed music as well.
Since there was not enough time to present awards to all the 2013 honorees during the fast-paced two-hour ceremony, many were given their awards in advance. But all honorees were listed in the program booklet and every recipient who was present was asked to stand at the beginning of the proceedings. As a result of freeing up time that would have spent giving out so many awards, the audience got an opportunity to hear performances by a broad range of the winners.
Among the highlights was a performance of Elegy for violin and piano by 2013 Morton Gould Young Composer Award-winner Stephen Feigenbaum featuring the composer at the piano accompanying violinist Jessica Oddie. Brittain Ashford, who is the cast of the off-Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812 performed a song from the show accompanied at the piano by its composer Dave Malloy, recipient of the 2013 Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award. Jazz composer/multi-instrumentalist Camille Thurman, recipient of the Phoebe Jacobs Prize, led a riveting performance by an all-female quartet which also included pianist Miki Hayama, bassist Mimi Jones, and drummer Shirazette Tinnin.
But the showstopper—at least for me—was a trip-hop infused group fronted by Kiah Victoria, winner of the Desmond Child Anthem Award, whose beat-driven music seamlessly traversed several different tempos.
Of course, there were standout award presentations as well. It was particularly thrilling to see Jaime Bernstein bestow the 2013 Leonard Bernstein award on Amy Beth Kirsten (who is well-known to readers of these pages) and, as per previous Foundation Award ceremonies, Mike Stoller’s son Peter Stoller stole the show with the comedic monologue he rattled off (in which he actually referenced Charles Ives) prior to presenting the Leiber and Stoller Music Scholarship to violinist Alexis Hatch.
A complete list of the 2013 ASCAP Foundation Awardees is here.