Nine young composers, ranging in age from 17 to 26, have been named winners in the 57th annual BMI Student Composer Awards. Newly appointed Awards Chair Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, BMI President and CEO Del Bryant, and BMI Foundation President Ralph N. Jackson announced the decision of the jury and presented the awards, which include cash prizes totaling $20,000, at a reception in New York City’s Jumeirah Essex House on May 15, 2009.
Rafael Nassif (b. 1984), from Brazil, was awarded the William Schuman Prize, given to the score judged “most outstanding” in the competition, for os olhos saõ a luz do corpo for three choirs with trombones. Gabrielle Nina Haigh (b. 1992), winner of the 2007 BMI Student Composer Awards’ Carlos Surinach Prize, presented to the competition’s youngest winner, received that distinction once again for her Symphony No. 1 for orchestra. Andrew Evans McManus (b. 1985) won for his orchestral work Identity which received its premiere in November 2008 as part of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute. The other 2009 award recipients were: Evan Antonellis (b. 1984) for the solo piano composition, 詠 / Twelve Future(s); Niccolo Athens (b. 1988) for the orchestral work Five Tableaux after Remedios Varo; Brendan Kelley Faegre (b. 1985) for the percussion quintet Tihai; Noah Gideon Meites (b. 1982) for Bioskop, scored for clarinet, cello, piano, and percussion; Phil Taylor (b. 1989) for Metamorphosis for violin, horn, and piano; and Roger Zare (b. 1985) for the orchestral piece Aerodynamics.
In 2009, more than 500 manuscripts were submitted to the competition from throughout the Western Hemisphere. All works were judged under pseudonyms. The 2009 Student Composer Awards jury members were Ingram Marshall, Osvaldo Golijov, Tobias Picker, Michael Torke, and Joseph Schwantner. The preliminary judges were Chester Biscardi, Shafer Mahoney, and Bernadette Speach. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich is only the third chair of the awards in its 57 year history. The first chair, William Schumann, was succeeded by Milton Babbitt who announced his retirement earlier this year. The BMI Student Composer Awards competition is co-sponsored by BMI and the BMI Foundation, Inc. (—Condensed from the press release)