New Music News Wire

15 Composers Receive $165K in American Academy Of Arts And Letters Awards

The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced the fifteen recipients of this year’s awards in music, which total $165,000. The winners were selected by a committee of Academy members: Robert Beaser (chairman), Martin Bresnick, John Harbison, Shulamit Ran, Gunther Schuller, and Yehudi Wyner. The awards will be presented at the Academy’s annual Ceremonial in May. Candidates for music awards are nominated by the 250 members of the Academy.

The winners of this year’s awards are:

Kati Agócs
Timothy Andres
Virko Baley
Jacob Bancks
Donal Fox
Ted Hearne
James Matheson
Andrew McPherson
James Mobberley
John Christian Orfe
Pablo Ortiz
Kay Kyurim Rhie
Kate Soper
Stephen Andrew Taylor
Anna Weesner

Virko Baley, Donal Fox, Pablo Ortiz, and Anna Weesner will each receive a $7500 Academy Award in Music, which honors outstanding artistic achievement and acknowledges the composer who has arrived at his or her own voice. All four composers will receive an additional $7500 toward the recording of one work.

James Matheson and Stephen Andrew Taylor will be awarded Goddard Lieberson fellowships of $15,000 each. The Lieberson Fellowship, endowed in 1978 by the CBS Foundation, is given to mid-career composers of exceptional gifts.

James Mobberley will receive the Walter Hinrichsen Award for the publication of a work by a gifted composer. This award was established by the C.F. Peters Corporation, music publishers, in 1984.

Kati Agócs and Kay Rhie will be given Charles Ives Fellowships of $15,000 each. The Ives Fellowship, which was established at the Academy from Harmony Ives’s bequest of the royalties of her late husband’s music, has been awarded since 1970.

In addition, six Charles Ives Scholarships of $7500, given to composition students of great promise, will be awarded to Timothy Andres, Jacob Bancks, Ted Hearne, Andrew McPherson, John Christian Orfe, and Kate Soper.

2008 Generation Next Young Composer’s Competition Winners Announced

The Music Institute of Chicago (MIC) presented the winners of the 2008 Generation Next Young Composer’s Competition in an award ceremony and concert at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston on March 8, 2008, at 6:30 p.m. The honorees each received a certificate and cash award during the ceremony, which was followed by a concert comprised of performances of the first and second place winner’s works by the Ark Ensemble and the third place winner’s work by MIC Academy student Sean Yeh. The concert was recorded and each prize winner will also receive a recording of his work.

The First Prize, which includes a cash award of $350, was awarded to Justin Ehrman for Metamorphosis on Old Joe Clark, a composition for piano, cello, and violin trio inspired by an old fiddle tune. Ehrman, 16, a junior at Wheaton North High School, has been composing for three years and has studied cello for 11 years. He began composing through an “improvisation for cello” class at the College of DuPage, taught by his cello teacher, Catherine Kuna, who encouraged him to compose a cadenza for a concerto performance. Last summer he participated in the Young Composers Program at Cleveland Institute of Music taught by Peter Gilbert and Orianna Webb, and he currently studies composition with composer Dr. Howard Whitaker, a professor at Wheaton College. Ehrman’s focus is on writing chamber music, and he intends to pursue a career in composing.

The Second Prize, which includes a cash award of $150, was awarded to Thomas Reevesfor his Piano Trio. Reeves, 13, an eighth grader at the Dalton School in New York City, began studying piano at the age of five and composing at the age of seven by completing an unfinished melody by one of his favorite composers, Dmitri Shostakovich. Composition studies began with Dr. Vivian Fung, then Dr. Manuel Sosa in New York. Mr. Reeves currently studies with Ira Taxin at the Juilliard School in Manhattan, where he is a student in the pre-college division. Thomas, a recipient of three ASCAP Morton Gould Prizes, has written over 40 works for piano, chamber ensemble and orchestra.

The Third Prize, which includes a cash award of $100, was awarded to Gregory Hanford for his Chromatic Etude for the Right Hand, for solo piano. Hanford, 17, a junior at Evanston Township High School, has been studying piano since the age of four, and currently studies with Ivana Bukvich, head of the piano department at Sherwood Conservatory. He has won the concerto competition at Birch Creek Music Festival twice. A multi-instrumentalist, he is also a self-taught guitarist and is principal hornist in both the symphony orchestra and wind ensemble at Evanston Township High School. In addition to classical music, Gregory Hanford also enjoys jazz, and is actively involved in the jazz program at his high school. In 8th grade, Mr. Hanford studied composition briefly with Matthew Hagle, but it is only in the past year that he has devoted more time to composing.

Finally, Michael Oldham, 16, of Braidwood, Illinois, was acknowledged with an Honorable Mention, which includes a $75 cash award. A senior at Reed-Custer High School, Oldham has been composing and playing piano since the age of 10, beginning in fourth grade with studies with Pat Liston in Braidwood, Illinois and continuing later on with Josette Behrend in Joliet, Illinois. His favorite composers are Danny Elfman, John Williams and Philip Glass. In 2006, Mr. Oldham won the Illinois Music Educators Association Composition Contest in the Large Ensemble/Instrumental category for Like the Sun Loves the Sky, a work for orchestra dedicated to his Great Aunt Sylvia. It was his first composition contest.

Established in 2007 by Music Institute of Chicago faculty member, pianist and contemporary music advocate Abraham Stokman, the Generation Next Young Composer’s Competition was created to encourage and recognize the talent of today’s promising young composers and promote both continued interest in and the development of new music. Open to student composers nationwide, composers must have reached 12 years of age but no more than 18 years of age on March 8, 2008. Chamber music scores in the classical, jazz or folk idioms for one to four players and no more than 10 – 12 minutes in length may be entered. Recipients must be U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents. Judges for the 2008 competition were composers Robert Lombardo, Howard Sandroff and Mischa Zupko. Last year, the first year of the competition, prizes were awarded to three students from Illinois: Dana Kaufman, First Place for La Lune Blanche Luit Dan Les Bois, poetry by Paul Verlaine; John S. Kearin, Second Place for A Winter’s Dream, and Santiago Osorio, Third Place for String Quartet No. 2, Op. 7. No honorable mention was awarded in 2007.

James E. Schaeffer Named New CEO of Center for Contemporary Opera

Richard Marshall, Founding and General Director of The Center for Contemporary Opera (CCO) in New York City has announced that James E. Schaeffer, Executive Director of Long Leaf Opera (LLO) located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina has been named CCO’s new Chief Executive Officer. Schaeffer will retain his position with Long Leaf Opera and serve in both capacities. The announcement was made at CCO’s 25th Anniversary Gala which also featured excerpts of Michael Dellaira’s newest work Secret Agent with libretto by J.D. McClatchy in late February at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater in New York City.

For the past quarter century, the Center for Contemporary Opera has assisted composers of opera and music theater by presenting works at all stages of development in readings, workshops and full productions on the professional stage. In addition it has helped to educate the public about contemporary opera through panel discussions and colloquia, and through its bi-annual newsletter Opera Today. Since its inception CCO has performed 48 works, including 18 world premieres.

The 54 year old Schaeffer was selected by the Center’s Executive Committee and will succeed Richard Marshall after 25 years of service. Schaeffer will assume his new role as CEO on March 18, 2008. Schaeffer, a composer, conductor and bassoonist who holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in HR Management/Organizational Development from Webster University, St. Louis, is also a retired Air Force senior officer whose final assignment was as the NATO liaison officer during the siege of Sarajevo where he conveyed NATO’s positions to the warring factions and the United Nations. Following retirement, he entered the electronics industry and was Vice President of Trouvere, Inc of Cambridge, MA and president of Spectron Electronics, Los Angeles. He is also on the Board of Directors of Sonus Research and Design, Providence, RI. He has been the conductor of the Goldsboro (North Carolina) Orchestra and principal bassoonist of the orchestras of Virginia Beach, Montgomery (AL), and Cambridge, England. His compositions have been performed at the American Dance Festival among other venues. Since October 2005, Schaeffer has been leading Long Leaf Opera in Chapel Hill, NC, the country’s only opera company dedicated to fully staged operas originally written in English and highlighting American composers.

Leonard Rosenman (1924-2008)

Composer Leonard Rosenman, whose works included music for orchestra, television, and films, died on March 4, 2008 at the age of 83. Winner of two Academy Awards for his scores for the films Barry Lyndon (1975) and Bound for Glory (1976), Rosenman was involved in the scoring of a hundred films and television dramas ranging from popular Hollywood fare such as East of Eden (1955), Rebel without a Cause (1955), and RoboCop 2 (1990) to films now principally remembered for his often experimental sonic contributions to them. His score for the film The Cobweb (1955) boasts the first use of 12-tone music in a soundtrack. Later experimental scores include Fantastic Voyage (1966), which employed musique concrète, and his television score for Sybil (1976) used quarter-tones. Rosenman, who studied composition with Arnold Schoenberg and Roger Sessions, also composed a substantial body of music for the concert hall.

(Compiled and Edited by Frank J. Oteri)