Winners of The American Prize in Composition, 2013

Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found on our Please scroll down for winners and runners-up in earlier competition years.

Orchestra - Professional Division

Orchestra - Student Division

Choral - Professional Division

Choral - Student Division
Band - Professional Division
Band - Student Division
Chamber Music - Professional Division
Chamber Music - Student Division


The American Prize in Composition (Orchestra—Professional Division), 2013

The American Prize winner:
Alessandra Salvati (Miami, FL)
"TEKTOSYNE" Three Architectures for Orchestra

Alessandra Salvati was born in Naples, Italy, where she was trained as a pianist and composer. Her repertoire includes works for symphonic orchestra, chamber ensembles and theater. Her music has been described as “potent,” “moving” and able to create “a strong connection with the audience” (L. Budmen, South Florida Classical Review). Ms. Salvati moved to the United States in 2009. Among her many accolades, she was a finalist for The American Prize 2012, she was selected for the Emerging Composers Concert of  Festival of Miami (2011), and was a two-time winner of the University of Miami’s Concerto Competition (2010 and 2012) with two symphonic works. Her music has been performed by prestigious ensembles, including the Penderecki String Quartet. She is currently working as a lecturer in the Music Theory and Composition Department of the University of Miami. 

Among judge's comments: "The Three Architectures for Orchestra is a monumental, richly orchestrated work, a sonic landscape, taking a listener on a journey of time and space..."

2nd Place:

Ofer Ben-Amots (Colorado Springs, CO)
"FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT" concertino for clarinet, mandolin and chamber orchestra


Ofer Ben-Amots is an award-winning composer, whose compositions are performed regularly in concert halls and festivals worldwide.

Currently serving as Professor and Chair of the Colorado College Music Department, Ben-Amots started his studies at Tel-Aviv University and continued at the Conservatoire de Musique in Geneva and the Music Academy in Detmold, Germany. Upon his arrival in the United States in 1987, Ben-Amots studied with George Crumb at the University of Pennsylvania where he received his Ph.D. in music composition. He is the winner of major international competitions including the Kobe International Competition for Flute Composition in Japan, the Vienna International Composer's Competition, The Aaron Copland Award, and many others. Ofer Ben-Amots’ works have been repeatedly recognized for their emotional and highly personal expression. The interweaving of folk elements with contemporary textures, along with his unique, imaginative orchestration, creates the haunting dynamic tension that permeates and defines his musical language. For more information please visit:

3rd Place:

Daniel McCarthy (Akron, OH)
"TURN THE PAGE" for orchestra and electric guitar solo

Daniel McCarthy is Professor and Chair of The Composition and Theory  Section at The University of Akron School of Music.  He formerly held the Theodore Dreiser Distinguished Creative/Research Award at The Indiana State University School of Music where he was Co-director of The ISU Contemporary Music Festival with The Louisville Orchestra. U.S.A. Today describes his music as "intriguing, inviting, shimmering..." while The Cleveland Plain Dealer has written that his music is "Colorful, infectious and touching--."  His music has been  described as "Contemporary in the best sense of the word" by The Music Connoisseur magazine, and 21st Century Music Magazine proclaims his music to be "Sassy, foreboding, refreshing and kicky--it's called style." McCarthy's has over 30 recordings of his music on Albany, Centaur, d'Note Classics, Gasparo, and Klavier Records, and over 100 publications of his his titles with C. Alan Publications.


SPECIAL JUDGE'S CITATION: Unique Skill in Combining Classical Techniques with Popular Idioms

Bradley Sowash   (Worthington, OH)

Bradley Sowash is a concert jazz pianist, multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, author/educator and composer/arranger.  As a musician, he has performed in every imaginable setting from living rooms, churches and jazz clubs to major concert venues both here and abroad for over thirty years.  His broadcast credits include seven seasons of appearances on the PBS-TV series, The Piano Guy, and National Public Radio has aired selections from his nine CDs.  As an educator specializing in improvisation, he teaches master classes nationwide and currently serves as Pop/Jazz chairperson for the Music Teachers National Association. The Neil A. Kjos Music Company publishes his many instructional books and Augsburg Fortress Press has published several volumes of his hymn arrangements.  Additionally, he writes and self-publishes works for ballet, big band, choir, film, orchestra, solo piano and string quartet.

The American Prize in Composition (Orchestra - Student Division), 2013

The American Prize winner:
Michael-Thomas Foumai   (Ann Arbor, MI)

Named Composer of the Year by the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra, Michael-Thomas Foumai was awarded the 2012 Jacob Druckman Prize from the Aspen Music Festival. He has beeen awarded two BMI awards and was named winner of the Merle J. Isaac Composition Competition. His works have been performed across the United States, Japan, China, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand with performances by the Buffalo Philharmonic, New England Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony and Chorus, Alarm Will Sound and many more. Michael holds degrees from the Universities of Hawaii and Michigan. He is currently a doctoral fellow at UofM. Please visit for more information on this artist.

Among judge's comments: "Exciting music, due largely to an active carving across the flow of the beat, displaying a sophisticated and personal command of rhythm.

2nd Place:

YoungWoo Yoo   (Champaign, IL)

Born in Seoul, South Korea, YoungWoo Yoo began her classical composition studies at the age of 15 and earned prizes in several national and international competitions. Her works have been performed in Italy, France, Netherlands, Albania, Greece, U.S., and South Korea. Ms. Yoo was the first-prize winner of the 2006 ValTidone International Music Competitions-'Edigio Carella Composition Competition' (Italy) and the finalist of the 2007 International Contest of Composition Henri Dutilleux (France), the 2008 Ton de Leeuw International Competition for Young Composers (Netherland, Albania). In 2008, she was a Distinguised Musician of the IBLA Foundation Master Prize for Competition (Italy), she received the International Music Prizes (Greece) in 2009 and Manhattan Prize 2010 (USA, Manhattan School of Music). YoungWoo was also selected participant for Master Classes with Samuel Adler and Matthias Pintscher at Manhattan School of Music. Ms. Yoo holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Ewha Womans University-College of Music and Master of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Dr. J Mark Stambaugh. She is a doctorate student (DMA) and studies with Dr. Sever Tipei at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.


3rd Place:

Geoffrey Pope   (Denver, CO)

Geoffrey Pope (b. 1986) has been recognized through numerous commissions and appointments as a composer and conductor. Pope received his undergraduate degree in composition at the University of Southern California, and went on to receive Master’s degrees in composition and conducting at the Eastman School of Music, where he was awarded the prestigious Walter Hagen Conducting Prize. A proponent of contemporary music, Pope seeks to present provocative and engaging programs that have a strong cultural impact. As a composer, Pope has enjoyed performances by various ensembles and individuals across the United States and Europe. His current project is an opera based on a true story from the Bosnian War—Sarajevo Vespers—with a libretto by forensic archaeologist and novelist Courtney Angela Brkić, is due to be completed in 2013. Visit for more information.


The American Prize in Composition (Choral—Professional Division), 2013

The American Prize winner:
Jonathan Santore   (Plymouth, NH)
selected choral works


Jonathan Santore is Chair of the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance at Plymouth State University and Composer in Residence for the New Hampshire Master Chorale, which received a “Best of NH 2008” Award from New Hampshire Magazine for his settings of texts with strong New Hampshire connections. He has won honors for his works including the 2011 Award for Distinguished Scholarship from Plymouth State, where he has taught composition since 1994, a 2010 Individual Artist Fellowship from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, and awards from national and international composition contests. His compositions have been performed and broadcast nationally and internationally, published by firms including Alliance Music, Walton Music, and Yelton Rhodes Music, and recorded by artists on Albany and Centaur Records. His biography was selected for the 2013 edition of Marquis Who’s Who in America. For more information about Santore and his work, please visit for more information on this artist.

Among judge's comments: "This composer displays impressive skill, expressivity and contrast in every musical selection offered in the portfolio.  The listener is drawn in from the start..."

2nd Place:

Paul John Rudoi   (Minneapolis, MN)
selected choral works

The music of Paul John Rudoi, recently deemed both “lush” and “lyrical” by Minneapolis’ Star Tribune, is fast becoming an important force in the worldwide choral community.  In 2011 alone his compositions won grand prizes in competitions hosted by the Milwaukee Choral Artists, the Young New Yorkers Chorus, and VocalEssence, and in 2012 he was a finalist for the Svanholm Singers’ Composition Award.  His works have been commissioned and performed by various ensembles nationwide, including Cantus, the Vancouver Chamber Singers, The Singers: Minnesota Choral Artists, the Anglican Singers, and the National Lutheran Choir.  He has received support and grants from the Jerome Foundation, MSAB, and the American Composers Forum, and his works are self-published and commercially published through Graphite Music Publishing and Santa Barbara Music Publishing. Visit  Please visit .

3rd Place:

John Muehleisen   (Mukilteo, WA)
selected choral works

Composer John Muehleisen is increasingly in demand for commissions and performances nationally and internationally, particularly from choral ensembles.  John has served as Composer-in-Residence for Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble almost continuously since 1996, for the Dale Warland Singers (2003–2004), and for Choral Arts (2011–2012). He has also received commissions from Conspirare, The Esoterics, Northwest Girlchoir, Seattle Pro Musica, the South Bend Chamber Singers, Volti, and Seattle’s Choral Arts, which commissioned Pietà, a concert-length oratorio premiered in March 2012 to instant critical acclaim. More than 40 of his choral works have been recorded commercially, most recently by the John Alexander Singers, Volti, and Opus 7, which will release a CD featuring numerous previously unrecorded pieces. John won the 1988 Louisville Orchestra Composition Competition, and his works have been featured at the Sixth World Choral Symposium, the 2007 NEA American Masterpieces Choral Festival in Austin, TX, and at multiple ACDA conferences.


The American Prize in Composition (Choral—Student Division), 2013

The American Prize winner:
Liza Sobel   (Cresskill, NJ)


Liza Sobel is a composer and singer studying at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross Conservatory for an MA/PhD in composition.  She studies composition with Robert Aldridge, Tarik O’Regan, and Gerald Chenoweth.  She previously studied at Cornell University (BA), Manhattan School of Music (semester exchange program), Bowdoin’s International Music Festival, nief-norf Summer Festival Composition Workshop, and Chamber Music Institute.  Her past teachers include Steven Stucky, Richard Danielpour, Derek Bermel, and Kevin Ernste. Liza was a Fulbright Scholar at Newcastle University, England in the summer of 2010 and was Cornell’s endorsed candidate and/or finalist for the Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, and Keasbey scholarships.  Additional awards include a commission from the NJ Composers’ Guild to compose a new piece for the Cygnus Ensemble, a finalist in the 2013 BMI Student Composers Awards and a finalist in the 2013 American Prize in the orchestral division and a semi-finalist in the chamber division.

Among judge's comments: "A well-written and conceived piece, utilizing many interesting compositional techniques and devices..."

2nd Place:

Elizabeth Lim   (New York, NY)

Elizabeth Lim is a third year doctoral candidate at the Juilliard School, where she studied composition with Dr. Robert Beaser and Dr. Samuel Adler. She completed her undergraduate studies at Harvard University, where she graduated magna cum laude with highest honors. For her musical contributions at Harvard, she was awarded the 2008 Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts and was recognized as one of “Fifteen Most Promising Seniors in the Arts.” While at Juilliard, her orchestral work, “Paranoia,” was a winner of the annual composers’ competition and was premiered by Jeff Milarsky and the Juilliard Orchestra in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Concert Hall. More recently, Elizabeth’s orchestral piece, “The Remains of Truth,” was premiered by the Alabama All-State Orchestra during their annual music festival. The American Composers Orchestra also selected “Disharmony of the Spheres” for a reading by the Buffalo Philharmonic as part of the Earshot Composer Reading series, and the American Composers Forum and VocalEssence co-presented her choral work, “The Tempest,” during the 2012 Essentially Choral readings, directed by Philip Brunelle. Following the readings, Elizabeth received a commission to write for VocalEssence’s WITNESS Concert in February 2013.

3rd Place:

Joseph Gregorio   (West Chester, PA)

Joseph Gregorio (b. 1979) has studied composition with Steven Stucky, David Conte, and Richard Brodhead.  Gregorio’s music has been broadcast, recorded, and performed in the United States and abroad by numerous and renowned soloists and ensembles.  His choral music is published by E. C. Schirmer Music Company, the National Collegiate Choral Organization, and Treble Clef Music Press.  Also active as a conductor, Gregorio is the founding director of prize-winning choir Ensemble Companio, and has served as assistant and guest conductor to several collegiate and community choirs.  He holds a M.M. in composition with departmental honors from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, a M.M. in choral conducting from Yale University, and a B.A. magna cum laude from Cornell University.  Gregorio has taught music theory and musicianship at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Temple University. 

The American Prize in Composition (Band—Professional Division), 2013



The American Prize winner:
Aleksander Sternfeld-Dunn (Wichita, KS) "FIREWORKS"

Aleksander Sternfeld-Dunn grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, was educated on both coasts and now finds himself in the middle of the country. His music combines a frenetic rhythmic language, lean textures and lyrical sensitivity. His music has been recorded and performed throughout the U.S., Europe, Canada, and Asia by ensembles and organizations including the Kiev Philharmonic, The Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra, Huntsville Alabama Army Band, Composers Inc, Conundrum, The Yale Brass Trio, Scott/Garrison Duo, and Vox Novus. Soloists like Richard Kriehn, Diane Maltester, Craig Hultgren, and Robert Young have also been champions of his music. His works are published by FJH Music, Dorn Publications, Trevco Music, Alry and Boom Crash Music and can be heard on the ERM and Capstone Labels. 

Among judge's comments: "My favorite entry from the moment I heard it, it stood out not only for its color and rhythmic drive and vitality, but for its integration of the soloist with the ensemble...."

2nd Place:

Darren Mitchell (Kirkland, WA)


Darren Mitchell was born in Dallas, Texas, November 14th, 1964.  Mr. Mitchell is best known for his music for video games (Turok: The Dinosaur Hunter; Turok 2: The Seeds of Evil, Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike, and numerous other titles), which have garnered several awards and recognition around the world.  In addition to his music for video games, Mr. Mitchell is rapidly becoming known for his music for live ensembles and has had his music performed all over the country by Universities, Orchestra’s, High Schools, and Jr. High Schools.  Mr. Mitchell holds a Bachelor’s of Music Degree from the University of North Texas where he studied composition with Dr. Cindy McTee and Larry Austin.  Mr. Mitchell and his family currently reside in Kirkland, Washington.

3rd Place:

Lansing McLoskey (Miami, FL)

Described as "a major talent and a deep thinker with a great ear" by the American Composers Orchestra, "an engaging, gifted composer writing smart, compelling and fascinating music" by Gramophone Magazine, and "a distinctive voice in American music” composer Lansing McLoskey has had his music performed in fourteen countries on six continents. He has won more than two dozen national and international awards, including the prestigious Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the inaugural International Joint Wind Quintet Project Commission Competition. Recent performances include concerts in Italy, Spain, England, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Miami, and Melbourne, Australia, and performances at fourteen music festivals in the past two seasons.  Associate Professor at the University of Miami, McLoskey’s music is released on Albany, Wergo Schallplatten, Capstone, Tantara, and Beauport Classics and published by Theodore Presser, Reed Music, ACA, Subito, and Odhecaton Z Music. Please visit for more information on this artist.



George Sweet (Piedmont SC)

George Sweet (b.1979) received Masters Degrees in Composition and Instrumental Conducting from Northern Arizona University and a Bachelors Degree in Music Education from Mars Hill College. His compositions have been performed worldwide and have been heard at various Honor Band and Orchestra Festivals, Disney's Magic Music Days, Bands of America, the College Band Directors National Association Southwest Conference, and the Midwest Clinic.  George’s various commissions include those from professional performers, public schools, university ensembles, and also a video game. He is a winner of the Southwest Region Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Composition Competition and is an award-winning member of ASCAP. George is also a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, MENC, and is an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi.  His music is published exclusively by Carl Fischer Publications of New York. Please visit for more information on this artist.

The American Prize in Composition (Band - Student Division), 2013

The American Prize winner:
Jae Lee (Johns Creek, GA)

Jae started playing the piano at the age of eight and has been prolifically composing and improvising ever since. After settling in the United States at age ten, he was introduced to jazz and broadened his horizon in many genres of music. He is not only a gifted composer, but also an accomplished pianist and saxophonist. Jae has already won many state and regional piano competitions and has also been invited to perform at many public events as a jazz pianist.

Jae Lee has been selected as the high school winner for the National Association for Music Education Composers Contest and was chosen as the national finalist for the Music Teachers National Association Composition Competition. Jae has also won prizes from ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Competition, MuSE Young Composers Competition, Georgia Bach Competition, Georgia Music Educators Association Piano Competition, Georgia Music Teachers Association Piano Competition, and more. His works have been performed by many ensembles including “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, MuSE String Quartet, and Atlanta Academy String Quartet in venues such as The John F. Kennedy Center in D.C., Fox Theatre, The Secret Theatre, Convention Center, and Gwinnett Civic Center. He will go on to study with Christopher Rouse at the Juilliard School starting in the fall of 2013.

Among judge's comments: "Of all the pieces I had the good fortune to listen to in this competition, I have to give this one the prize for taking the most chances. The abrupt changes in texture and the suddenly exposed writing are daring but effective...."

2nd Place:

Viet Cuong (Marietta, GA)

Viet Cuong (b. 1990) is a young, “show-stealing” (Baltimore City Paper) composer who has had works performed in venues across the United States, Canada, Eastern Europe South Africa, Singapore, and Japan. Viet is currently a Naumburg and Roger Sessions Ph.D. Fellow at Princeton University, where his teachers include Steve Mackey, Donnacha Dennehy, and Paul Lansky. Viet holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Oscar Bettison and Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts. During past summers he studied at the Aspen and Bowdoin music festivals and held residencies at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Ucross Foundation. Viet’s music has been featured at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic, Gamper Festival at Bowdoin, Aspen Music Festival, International Double Reed Society Conference, and US Navy Band International Saxophone Symposium, among others. Please visit for more information on this artist.


3rd Place:

David “Clay” Mettens (Covington, KY)


David “Clay” Mettens is a senior composition and clarinet major at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. He is a recipient of the McNair Scholarship, the top award given to out-of-state students. His primary composition teachers have been John Fitz Rogers and Fang Man. Recently, his works have been played at the NewNowNorse New Music Festival at Northern Kentucky University, the New Voices Student Composer concerts at USC, student recitals at USC, in an orchestra reading at the Aberystwyth MusicFest in Aberystwyth, Wales, and in a reading by the USC Wind Ensemble. Clay was a finalist for the 2011 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards and a regional finalist for the 2012 SCI/ASCAP Student Commission Competition. He was selected by the USC School of Music to be the 2012 recipient of the Cantey Award for Excellence and the John and Lucretia Herr Composition Award.

The American Prize in Composition
(Chamber Music—Professional Division), 2013

The American Prize winner:
Michael Deak   (Gig Harbor, WA)
INTROSPECTIONS, for two guitars


Michael Deak was born in Los Angeles 10/10/1942. His father was a concert pianist who studied with Franz Liszt's students and Bela Bartok. Imre died in 1945, a month after his friend, Bartok, thus depriving Michael of his father's great experience. Michael grew up in Pasadena, but didn't pursue music until he was 19. He studied with Morten Lauridsen and Ellis Kohs at USC. Michael has won two competitions, was a finalist in a Greek competition this past March, and has been recorded twice. Michael has had a broadcast of his piano music on KUSC-FM in L.A., and he has been published. Michael and his wife, Barbara, now live in Gig Harbor, Washington.

Among judge's comments: "an extremely attractive and skillfully written work with an impressionist flavor that shows range and variety, imagination, an individual voice..."

2nd Place:

Nancy Bloomer Deussen  (Mountain View, CA)

American composer Nancy Bloomer Deussen is well known as a  composer, performer and arts impressario. She is a leader in the growing  movement for more melodic, tonally oriented contemporary music and is  co-founder and President Emeritus of the SF Bay Chapter of the National  Association of Composers, USA.  Her original works have been performed in  the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, China and Indonesia and she has received numerous  commissions both locally and nationally. Ms Bloomer Deussen holds BM and MM degrees from The Manhattan  School of Music and a BM in Music Ed from the USC School of Music and her teachers of composition were Vittorio Giannini, Lukas Foss, Ingolf Dahl and Wilson Coker. Recent performances of her works include: "A Field in Pennsylvania" by The Dayton Philharmonic Symphony, "Solstice Circle" at the American Harp  Society concert in San Francisco, "Carmel by-the Sea" by the US Army  Symphony Orchestra, "Ascent to Victory" by Orchestra Nova of San Diego, "Music From the Heartland", "Adirondak Morn" and "Two American Songs" at the American Pen Women conference in Washington, DC, "San Andreas  Suite" by the Divisa Ensemble, and numerous others. Please visit: .

3rd Place:

David P. Sartor   (Hermitage, TN)
POLYGON, for brass quintet

Composer and conductor David P. Sartor is Adjunct Professor of Composition at Trevecca Nazarene University.  He has received the prestigious Ostwald Award from the American Bandmasters Association, the National Fine Arts Award, and more than two dozen awards from New Music for Young Ensembles, Meet The Composer, Delta Omicron and ASCAP, among others.  Sartor is a popular guest composer, conductor and lecturer whose engagements include the Washington National Cathedral, Illinois State University, Middle Tennessee State University, the Nexus Chamber Orchestra and California State University, sponsored by New York City’s Meet The Composer Foundation. In 2009, Sartor was inducted as a National Patron of Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity in recognition of his accomplishments as a composer and conductor.  His works are recorded on the ERM label, are published by E.C. Schirmer, Shawnee Press, and Metamorphic Music, and are distributed worldwide by J. W Pepper. Please visit: .


The American Prize in Composition
(Chamber Music—Student Division), 2013

The American Prize winner:
Melissa Dunphy   (Philadelphia, PA)
TESLA'S PIGEON—for soprano and piano


Nationally acclaimed award-winning composer Melissa Dunphy (b. 1980 in Brisbane, Australia) is best known for her large scale choral work, the Gonzales Cantata, which received rave press from the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. Melissa’s compositions have been performed by Chanticleer, Simon Carrington Chamber Singers, St. Louis Chamber Chorus, American Opera Theater, Anti-Social Music, Network for New Music, and at various electroacoustic festivals. Dunphy has also received awards from The Tesla Science Foundation, National Association of Teachers of Singing, ASCAP and the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, and written for Ensemble Epomeo, Voice of this Generation, the Kennett Symphony Orchestra and Children’s Choir, and Whitman College Chamber Singers. Melissa is currently undertaking doctoral studies in composition at the University of Pennsylvania on a Benjamin Franklin Fellowship. Please visit:

Among judge's comments: "It is this type of mental and musical creativity which is accessible to audiences of all makes and models...beautifully presented..."

2nd Place:

Rodrigo Bussad    (Miami, FL)
URIZEN (The Chain of Reason), for c flute, bass flute, guitar 

Rodrigo Bussad received his Bachelors at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Sao Paulo and a certificate as Audio Technician by the Institute of Audio and Video of Sao Paulo. It is currently enrolled for his masters degree at the University of Miami where also works as a TA for Aural Skills class. In 2008 he studied at the Unicamp Winter Festival with Claude Ledoux from the Paris Conservatory of Music. In 2009 he recorded the album TUWA, for instrumental quartet, featuring his music exclusively, financed by the Campinas City Hall Department of Culture. His pieces have been performed in Brazil, the USA and countries in Europe. He participated twice in the SoundSCAPE Festival of New Music in Maccagno, Italy (2011-2012) and had premieres in both of them. He also worked at the 2012 festival as the recording and sound engineer. His piece Ignis Fatuus, for clarinet solo, was released in the album Refractions, recorded by the clarinetist Gleb Kanasevish. Bodisatva, for percussion ensemble, was chosen to be part of the “Emerging Composers Concert” during the Miami Festival of Music in 2012. His worked is heavily inspired by far Eastern philosophy and musical idiom. Currently researching the Chinese oracle, the Yi Jing, and using as what he has learned as a resource for his compositional process, Bussad also studies traditional Chinese music and is one of the founding members and director of the Gaoshan Liushui ensemble, the first traditional Chinese music ensemble in South America.

3rd Place:

Chin Ting Chan    (Kansas City, MO)
ICEBERGS, for violin, cello and piano

Raised in Hong Kong, the music of Chin Ting Chan (b. 1986) has gained recognitions from the Interdisciplinary Festival for Music and Sound Art in Vienna, Soli fan tutti Composition Prize, newEar contemporary chamber ensemble, Mid-American Center for Contemporary Music, and performances throughout the United States, Canada, Austria and Germany. He received degrees from San José State University (B.M.) and Bowling Green State University (M.M.), and is currently pursuing a D.M.A. in composition at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. He has studied with Chen Yi, Zhou Long, James Mobberley, Paul Rudy, Marilyn Shrude, Burton Beerman, Andrea Reinkemeyer, Brian Belet and Pablo Furman. Over the first half of 2013, he has been developing electroacoustic music for IRCAM, using Cycling 74’s Max 6 program, with instructions from Grégoire Lorieux. Mr. Chan is a founding member of the composer’s consortium Melos Music. Please visit for more information on this artist.

Winners of The American Prize in Composition, 2012

Complete listings of finalists & semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found on our Please scroll down for winners and runners-up in earlier competitions.

Orchestra - Professional Division

Orchestra - Student Division

Choral - Professional Division

Choral - Student Division

The American Prize in Composition (Orchestra—Professional Division), 2012

The American Prize winner:

The Whispering Wind

performed by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Marin Alsop, conductor

The music of Michael Gatonska has been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony, the Hartford Symphony, the Ossia Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Chamber Musicians, the LOCRIAN Chamber Players, the Talea Ensemble, and string quartet DAFO (Poland) among others. He has received numerous awards for his compositions, including fellowship and grant awards from the Civitella Ranieri Center, the Kosciuszko Foundation, ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, the American Music Center, Meet the Composer, the American Composers Forum, the Roberts Foundation, the Paul Underwood/ ACO Commission, the MATA Festival Commission, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, the Field, and he is a MacDowell Colony Fellow. His music has been recorded on the Albany Records, MajorWho Media, and Einstein Records labels.

Among judge's comments: "very organic – it flows from one thought or gesture to another...well-balanced between programmatic and abstract moments...warrants future performances."

2nd Place:



Matthew Peterson (b. 1984, Grand Forks, ND) writes music for concerts and the stage. A composer of "considerable imagination and individuality" (Houston Chronicle), his music is "fresh and passionate…beautiful, challenging" (BBC Berkshire). His diverse music ranges from songs of criminals and outcasts, to modern settings of sacred texts, to stunning orchestral soundscapes. Matthew has received commissions from musicians and ensembles in the United States, England, and Sweden, and fifty of his works have been performed across North America and Europe. He has received the Fulbright Grant, and prestigious awards from BMI, ASCAP, Opera Vista, Indiana University, the Boston Choral Ensemble, the National Opera Association, Vocal Essence, ensemble Chanticleer, and others.

3rd Place:

CONCERTO for Piano and Wind Orchestra: "Solar Traveller"

Composer Judith Lang Zaimont (b. 1945) is internationally recognized for her distinctive style, characterized by its expressive strength and dynamism. Many of her 100 works are prize-winning compositions; these include three symphonies, chamber opera, oratorios and cantatas, music for wind ensemble, vocal-chamber pieces with varying accompanying ensembles, a wide variety of chamber works, and solo music for string and wind instruments, piano, organ, and voice. Many of Zaimont's musical compositions have been recorded and have won prizes in national and international competitions. Critics consistently praise her music, terming it "expressive and idiomatic" [CLAVIER], "colorful and commanding" [THE NEW RECORDS], and "exquisitely crafted, vividly characterized and wholly appealing" [NEW YORK TIMES].


The American Prize has also awarded two Special Judge's Citations in Orchestral Composition for 2012.


Trotzky's Train

Santa Monica composer & conductor David Avshalomov () is also an accomplished vocalist. He writes in an accessible neo-Romantic tonal style, displaying a lyric gift and rhythmic vitality, creating works for choir, solo voice, chamber ensembles, band, and orchestra, earning regional commissions and national awards. His music is performed across the US and in Europe and Russia, and recorded on Albany and Naxos. Trained at Harvard, U. Washington, Aspen, and Tanglewood, he conducted orchestras and opera for 20 years, toured in Europe and the Far East, and recorded music by his grandfather Aaron in Moscow. He now focuses on composing and singing.


Make Gentle the Life of This World

Raymond Horton (b. 1952, Jeffersontown, KY) has had a 40-year career as composer, arranger, performer (bass trombone, euphonium), conductor and church musician in his native Louisville, KY, and southern Indiana area since winning the position of Louisville Orchestra Bass Trombonist in 1971 at age 18. With advanced degrees in trombone, composition, and church music, he has made solo appearances locally and nationally, and has had compositions played by orchestras in Louisville, the US and abroad. Horton and wife Terry live in Floyds Knobs, IN, both serve as music staff at nearby Edwardsville United Methodist Church. Horton has a website:


The American Prize in Composition (Orchestra - Student Division), 2012

The American Prize winner:

Mascaras for Orchestra

Mexican native Roberto Kalb is an active Composer, Conductor, and Pianist. Kalb's music has been performed in Mexico, France, Germany and throughout the United States. His piece Le Dormeur du Val (Winner of the 2nd Prize of the Washington International Composition Prize 2012) will be performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. this summer. Kalb holds a Bachelor's Degree in Composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, a Master's Degree in Composition from the University of Michigan and is currently a Doctoral Candidate at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.

Among judge's comments: "expertly orchestrated...holds interest with telling details of instrumental color. Finely evocative, the harmonic language is bold and clear, as is the melodic material..."

2nd Place:

Berlin Songs

Jason Thorpe Buchanan (b. 1986) is an American composer. His works have been described by critics and leading composers in the U.S. and Europe as "sharply-edged," "shimmering," "symphonic," and "ambitious." Jason spent 2010-2011 in Hamburg, where he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship at the Hochschule für Musik while conducting research in regard to compositional process and aesthetics. In 2011 his Berlin Songs were premiered in Berlin, later recorded at the Melos New Music Festival in San Francisco, conducted by the composer. Jason is a Ph.D. candidate at the Eastman School of Music, director of the composer's consortium Melos Music.

3rd Place:


Liza White's music has been featured at top venues including REDCAT, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, and the Composers' Conference at Wellesley College. Liza's work has been performed by Alarm Will Sound, Fifth House Ensemble, the Charlestown Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet, ALEAIII conducted by Gunther Schuller, and many other world-class musicians. Liza has won the Craig and Janet Swan Prize, the Margaret Blackburn Composition Competition, and an Emil and Ruth Beyer Award. She has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Hambidge Center, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Visit for more information.


The American Prize in Composition (Choral—Professional Division), 2012

The American Prize winner:

Amherst Requiem

words: missa pro defunctis and Emily Dickinson

Largely self-taught as a composer, Brian Holmes usually composes for chorus or solo voice. His works include three operas, two musicals, a Requiem Mass, two extended works for chorus and orchestra, ten song cycles, over one hundred works for chorus, and a variety of works for orchestra, band, and chamber groups. He has numerous commissions, composition prizes, recordings, and publications to his credit. He has been composer in residence to four choruses in the San Francisco Bay area. Holmes is a professor of Physics at San Jose State University, where he teaches a course on the physics of music.

Among judge's comments: "a wonderful composition. Its variety, beauty and introspection are very moving and artistically satisfying."

2nd Place:

selected choral works

Jenni Brandon (b. 1977) is an award-winning composer whose music has been featured by ensembles in venues across the world, including Carnegie Hall, as well as regularly on radio broadcasts across the United States. Commissioned and recorded by many ensembles, her music is also published by Boosey & Hawkes, Graphite Publishing, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, as well as Jenni Brandon Music. Active also as a conductor, she frequently makes guest appearances and currently leads The Concert Singers in Los Angeles. Her first self-produced CD, Songs of California: Music for Winds and Piano was released in 2010. Please visit .

3rd Place:

Thy light has come

Composer and conductor David P. Sartor is Adjunct Professor of Composition at Trevecca Nazarene University. He has received the prestigious Ostwald Award from the American Bandmasters Association, the National Fine Arts Award, and more than two dozen awards from New Music for Young Ensembles, Meet The Composer, Delta Omicron and ASCAP, among others. In 2009, Sartor was inducted as a National Patron of Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity in recognition of his accomplishments as a composer and conductor. His works are recorded on the ERM label and are published by E.C. Schirmer, Shawnee Press, and Metamorphic Music. Web site: .


The American Prize has also awarded two Special Judge's Citations in Choral Composition for 2012.


Soft Footfalls: Song of the Anasazi

Composer Anne Kilstofte has received awards and honors from ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, the Bush Artist Fellowship Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, several McKnight Fellowships and a Fulbright Senior Scholarship. She continues to receive commissions from prominent national and international ensembles from Asia, Europe, and North America. Her work has been heralded for its exceptional variety of tone color and atmospheric display of light and sound. She received her Ph.D. in Music Theory and Composition from the University of Minnesota, studying with Pulitzer prize-winning composer Dominick Argento. Her website offers listening and information about her works.

The American Prize in Composition (Choral—Student Division), 2012

The American Prize winner:

selected choral works

An accomplished singer and pianist, Joshua Fishbein is a natural fit as a composer, choral conductor, and music teacher. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Fishbein studied at The Peabody Preparatory. He won the orchestra prize from Carnegie Mellon University as an undergraduate. Fishbein completed his Master's degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he won the art song competition. Fishbein has also won competitions sponsored by the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Shalshelet, WomenSing, The Esoterics, the National Lutheran Choir, the Guild of Temple Musicians, and the American Choral Directors Association. Currently, Fishbein is a PhD student at UCLA.

Among judge's comments: "A composer of excellent gifts, with solid technical skills, experimenting, learning, and worth the listen."

2nd Place:

selected choral works

Jason Michael Saunders was born in 1989 and was raised in the Portland, Oregon area. In December 2011 he graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, where he earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree. Saunders has composed since the age of 16, and has conducted the premiere performances of many of his works. His choral compositions have been performed by ensembles across the United States and in Europe. At Pacific Lutheran, Saunders studied composition with Dr. Gregory Youtz and choral conducting with Dr. Richard Nance and Dr. Brian Galante. For more information, please visit .

3rd Place:

Carmen Vocis

Costas Dafnis (b. 1989 in Athens, Greece) is a composer of modern concert music. He is a founding member of Noisi Paintr, a consortium of musicians dedicated to progressive sound. When not composing, Costas spends his time playing mandolin poorly and reading all of the strange, obscure poetry he pretends to like. .

Winners of The American Prize in Composition, 2011

Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found on our .

Orchestral Prizes

Choral Prizes

The American Prize in Composition (Orchestral Division), 2011

The American Prize winner:
Jesse Ayers,

Canton, OH

The Passion of John Brown, commissioned by the Akron Symphony Orchestra, Christopher Wilkins, music director.

Jesse Ayers's (b. Knoxville, TN 1951) music has been performed in Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Russia, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, and over 100 U.S. cities, and has twice been selected to represent the United States at the ISCM World Music Days. His awards include a MacDowell Fellowhip, an Individual Creativity Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council, annual awards from ASCAP, and grants from Meet the Composer and the American Music Center. For more about Mr. Ayers and The Passion of John Brown, please visit

Among judges' comments: "Well orchestrated, well voiced...quite moving."


2nd Place:

Lee Actor,

Monte Sereno, CA

Dance Rhapsody

3rd Place:

Todd Goodman,
Midland, PA

Concerto for Bass Clarinet and Orchestra

4th Place:

Robert Wendel,
New York, NY

Towers of Light


The American Prize in Composition (Choral Division), 2011

The American Prize winner:
Ted Vives,

Los Alamos, NM

Castrovalva, Lux Aeterna and Gloria

Ted Vives has received many awards and commissions for his choral and instrumental works. He holds Bachelor's degrees in Music Composition and Education from Florida State University and a Master's in Music Composition and Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Florida. His composition instructors have included John Boda, Charles Carter, and Budd Udell. He is the musical director for the Los Alamos (NM) Community Winds where he resides with his wife and children. Visit

2nd Place:

John Van Geem,
Mount Prospect, IL