2014 ASCAP Concert Music Awards

Maria Schneider, Paola Prestini, James M. Kendrick, John Nuechterlein and the American Composers Forum, plus the 27 recipients of the 2014 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, were honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) during its 15th Annual Concert Music Awards.

Written By

Frank J. Oteri

Frank J. Oteri is an ASCAP-award winning composer and music journalist. Among his compositions are Already Yesterday or Still Tomorrow for orchestra, the "performance oratorio" MACHUNAS, the 1/4-tone sax quartet Fair and Balanced?, and the 1/6-tone rock band suite Imagined Overtures. His compositions are represented by Black Tea Music. Oteri is the Vice President of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) and is Composer Advocate at New Music USA where he has been the Editor of its web magazine, NewMusicBox.org, since its founding in 1999.

Maria Schneider, Paola Prestini, James M. Kendrick, John Nuechterlein and the American Composers Forum, plus the 27 recipients of the 2014 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, were honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) during its 15th Annual Concert Music Awards, an invitation-only event held at Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman Center in New York City on May 22, 2014. In addition, retired ASCAP Vice President of Concert Music Frances Richard was honored with the American Composers Forum Champion of New Music Award.
ASCAP member, composer, and broadcaster Bill McGlaughlin served as the master of ceremonies. Paul Williams, ASCAP president and chairman of the board, introduced the awards. In honor of ASCAP’s centenary, the ceremony began with a performance by pianist Simon Mulligan of “Indian Summer,” composed by ASCAP co-founder Victor Herbert. ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento then presented James M. Kendrick with the Arnold Broido Award for his “dedicated service to American music” as “an advocate for American composers” and “a champion of copyright” as well as for “his exemplary service to ASCAP as Director, Treasurer and Symphony and Concert Committee Co-Chair.” Kendrick, who was trained as an oboist before pursuing law degrees, explained how he got into the business side of the music industry:

Jennifer Higdon presented Maria Schneider with an award saluting her receipt of the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition and for “her courageous contributions as advocate for American composers and musicians.” In their comments on the podium, Higdon and Schneider, who had never met in person until the ceremony, described how they are huge fans of each other’s music. Higdon claimed to have listened to the recording of Schneider’s Grammy Award-winning composition “a thousand times” and Schneider served on the jury that awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music to Higdon for her Violin Concerto. (You can read a 2008 NewMusicBox conversation with Schneider here and a 2007 NewMusicBox conversation with Higdon here.) Composer Alex Shapiro, newly elected to ASCAP’s board of directors, presented an award to the American Composers Forum for its “distinguished service to American composers.” John Nuechterlein, ACF’s president and CEO, accepted the award.

Nuechterlein remained on stage to present the ACF Champion of New Music Award to retired ASCAP Vice President for Concert Music Frances Richard who received two standing ovations from the audience. As part of the award, Nuechterlein gave Richard a box of Wheaties cereal with her picture on it which he said is a Minnesota tradition.

Richard spoke about how strange it felt to receive an award since for so many years she has given people awards. This year she also was given an opportunity to present one of the awards, ASCAP’s Victor Herbert Award, to composer Paola Prestini, the co-founding artistic director of VisionIntoArt, for “her musical achievements as composer, collaborator, impresario, educator, and mentor.”

The remainder of the ceremony was devoted to the presentation of the 2014 Morton Gould Young Composer Awards. All the winning composers who were in attendance, as well as composers in attendance who had received an honorable mention, received their awards as attendees listened to recordings of brief excerpts from their award-winning pieces. Composer Melinda Wagner, who served as one of the judges for this year’s competition, presented the Leo Kaplan Award (awarded to the top ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award winner) to Gabriella Smith for her composition Brandenburg Interstices, a work equally inspired by J.S. Bach and bluegrass and scored for flute, string quartet, and harpsichord.

Higdon presented the Charlotte V. Bergen Scholarship (awarded to the top ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer aged 18 or under) to 14-year-old Benjamin P. Wenzelberg, for his opera Sleeping Beauty. Before receiving his award, Wenzelberg (who last week won the BMI Carlos Surinach Prize for his piano trio Midnight Tides) accompanied soprano Kate Oberjat at the piano in an excerpt from his opera. (This scholarship is made possible by The Frank & Lydia Bergen Foundation and is named in memory their daughter, Charlotte, a lover of classical music.)
The ASCAP composer/judges for the 2014 Morton Gould Awards were: Daniel Felsenfeld, Douglas Geers, David Lang, Lowell Liebermann, James Matheson, Tamar Muskal, Robert Paterson, and Melinda Wagner. In addition to Wagner, Geers, Liebermann, Muskal, and Paterson, ASCAP’s current Vice President for Concert Music Cia Toscanini and ASCAP Concert Music Membership Representative Michael Spudic also presented awards to the Young Composer winners. The additional 2014 Morton Gould Young Composer Award recipients and their award-winning compositions are:

The additional youngest ASCAP Foundation Young Composer Award recipients (ranging in age from 10 to 17) and their award-winning works are:

  • Graham Cohen (age 15): Hujan di Palambang for 12 musicians [6’]
  • Tengku Irfan (age 15): Sahibul Hikayat Fantasy Overture for Orhestra [17’]
  • Rory Lipkis (age 17): Caprice for orchestra [9’]
  • Jonah M.K. Murphy (age 14): Villanelle for flute, clarinet, string quartet, and three percussion [4’]
  • Shashaank Narayanan (age 10): Heroes of All Eras for string quartet [10’]
  • J.P. Redmond (age 14): The Haunted House for 16 musicians [21’]
  • Karalyn Schubring (age 15): The Journey for piano and soprano saxophone [6’]
  • Renata Vallecillo (age 14): Forever…it seems for piano, cello and clarinet [6’]

Composers receiving honorable mention and their works are:

  • Corey Cunningham (age 27): In Misty Heights and Distant Sea for orchestra [9’]
  • Michael-Thomas Foumai (age 26): Three Scenes from The Hell Screen for orchestra [15’]
  • Benjamin Krause (age 29): Footnotes for violin and cello [13’]
  • Michael Kropf (age 22): Kinesthesia for 10 musicians [5’]
  • Wesley Levers (age 18): Through the Wilderness for piano, violin, flute, and percussion [8’]
  • Geoffrey Sheil (age 27): Awaiting the Rest for piano, harp and 2 percussion [8’]

Robert Paterson with the youngest 2014 Gould winning composers

Robert Paterson announces the youngest Morton Gould award-winning composers and the youngest composers receiving honorable mention.

Composers receiving honorable mention in the youngest category and their works are:

  • Rachel Kuznetsov (age 13): Japanese Crane Dances for clarinet and strings [5’]
  • Michael D. Parsons (age 18): Duo for Tuba and Piano [7’]
  • Avik Sarkar (age 13): Polarity for string quartet [9’]
  • Rubin Zou (age 11): String Quartet No. 1 [7’]
Frances Richard holds Wheaties box

Frances Richard happily holds her box of Wheaties (which came with her ACF Champion of New Music Award) at the reception following the 2014 ASCAP Concert Music Awards