Composer/pianist Jonathan Howard Katz has won the fifth annual Robert Helps Prize in Composition, a $10,000 cash award sponsored by the University of South Florida School of Music. The premiere performance of Katz’s winning work, Talking of Michelangelo (2009), will take place at the 2010 Robert Helps Festival on February 12, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. Entries submitted for consideration in the 2010 Competition had to be original unpublished compositions between 10 and 20 minutes in duration and scored for tenor voice and piano with the optional addition of one other instrument. No prepared piano could be used, but works featuring playing inside the piano were acceptable. The competition was only open to composers who will not have reached the age of 36 by February 14, 2010. All materials had to be submitted anonymously, marked only with a pseudonym of the composer’s choice. Jurors for the 2010 competition were Louis Andriessen, Brad Diamond, Svetozar Ivanov, and Paul Reller.
Jonathan Howard Katz’s compositions have been performed at numerous festivals and other venues, with recent works including the song cycle Chalices from My Hands (2008), and the first six of a projected twelve Trichord Preludes for piano (2009). As a pianist, Katz was the winner of the 2007 Pittsburgh Concert Society Major Auditions and has performed throughout the United States, including appearances in Boston’s Jordan Hall and on the Evenings with Schoenberg series presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Katz received a bachelor of music degree from Indiana University in Bloomington and a master of music degree from New England Conservatory, both in piano performance, and is currently a doctoral piano student at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music in Evanston, Illinois. A student of Ursula Oppens during his doctoral studies at Northwestern, Katz’s dissertation involves the documentation of solo piano works of composers born since 1970. (To submit a work to his project, visit the website of the Piano Repertoire Project).
The annual Robert Helps Composition Competition and Festival has a three-fold mission: to encourage the development and enhance the career opportunities of emerging young composers; to honor the contributions of the pianist and composer Robert Helps (1928-2001); and to enhance the reputation of the University of South Florida as an valuable resource for composers and music lovers. The festival, in particular, focuses on interaction between students and master figures in modern American music performance and thought.
(—Condensed from various press releases)