Nine young American composers ranging in age from 11 to 26 received honors—including cash awards totaling $20,000—in the 56th annual BMI Student Composer Awards, which were announced yesterday afternoon at the Jumeirah Essex House Hotel in New York City. In addition, BMI Foundation President Ralph N. Jackson presented a special “Outstanding Musical Citizen Award” to Minnesota Orchestra Artistic Planning Associate Beth Cowart and composer Aaron Jay Kernis for their work as co-directors of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute.
BMI Foundation Advisory Panel member Ellen Taaffe Zwilich presented the nine Student Composer Awards, which were given to works ranging from a duo for soprano and double-bass to four compositions for orchestra. The William Schuman Prize, awarded to the score judged “most outstanding” in the competition, was given to Eric Nathan (b. 1983, New York, NY) for his orchestral composition Icarus Dreamt. Yeeren I. Low (b. 1997, Chapel Hill, NC) received the Carlos Surinach Prize, awarded to the youngest winner in the competition, for his String Quartet. The other 2008 winners were:
- Jacob Bancks (b. 1982, Fairmont, MN):
Among the Leaves for mezzo-soprano and orchestra
- Nicholas Oberg Deyoe (b. 1981, Boulder, CO):
15 Players for large mixed ensemble
- David Fulmer (b. 1981, Boston, MA):
Discant Dialects for piano, harpsichord and strings
- Gilbert Galindo (b. 1982, Odessa, TX):
Clarion Horizons for orchestra
- Trevor M. Gureckis (b. 1982, Charleston, SC):
Very Large Array for orchestra
- Justin Hoke (b. 1987, Lancaster, PA):
Che Si Sgretola for flute, two clarinets, celesta, and piano
- Shawn Jaeger (b. 1985, Louisville, KY):
In Old Virginny for soprano and double-bass
The jurors for the 2008 Student Composer Awards were Robert Beaser, Margaret Brouwer, Kevin Puts, Bernard Rands, and Charles Wuorinen. The preliminary judges were Chester Biscardi, David Leisner, and Bernadette Speech. Milton Babbitt, who was unable to attend the ceremony, is the permanent chairman of the awards.
Since the BMI Student Composer Awards were established 1952, they have been awarded to a total of 477 composers. In 2008, more than 500 manuscripts were submitted to the competition from throughout the Western Hemisphere, and all works were judged under pseudonyms. The awards are co-sponsored by BMI and the BMI Foundation, Inc. For more information, visit BMI Classical.