Nine Composers Receive 2018 BMI Student Composer Awards

Nine composers have received 2018 BMI Student Composer Awards plus there was one additional honorable mention.

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.

The BMI Foundation (BMIF), in collaboration with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), has announced the winners of the 66th annual BMI Student Composer Awards. The awards were presented to nine composers, aged 18-26, at a private ceremony held on May 14, 2018, at Three Sixty° in New York City by composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, who serves as Chair of the Student Composer Awards, BMI President and CEO and BMIF Honorary Chair Mike O’Neill, and BMI Executive Director of Classical and BMIF President Deirdre Chadwick.

Deirdre Chadwick welcomes guests to the ceremony.

“We are excited to honor these deserving and talented young composers,” said Deirdre Chadwick, Director of the Student Composer Awards. “This is only the start to what is sure to be an exciting professional journey for them all.”

The 2018 award winners are:
Katherine Balch (b. 1991): Leaf Fabric (2017) for orchestra [c. 14′]
Jonathan Cziner (b. 1991): Resonant Bells (2018) for orchestra [12′]
Saad Haddad (b. 1992): Takht (2016) for full orchestra [c. 14′]
J.P. Redmond (b. 1999): Silhouette (2017) for full orchestra [c. 7′]
Matthew Schultheis (b. 1997): Chamber Concerto (2017) for 15 Players [c. 18′]
Gabriella Smith (b. 1991): Carrot Revolution (2015) for string quartet [11′]
Ari Sussman (b. 1993):Kol Galgal (2017) for orchestra [9’25”]
Amy Thompson (b. 1994): Somewhere to Elsewhere (2018) for harp and ensemble [21′]
Miles Walter (b. 1994): Eighteen figments after Joanna Newsom, Side A (2017) for violin, viola, cello, double bass, and piano [c. 11′]

Jonathan Cziner was additionally awarded the William Schuman Prize, for the score deemed most outstanding in the competition, and J.P. Redmond also received the Carlos Surinach Prize, which is awarded to the competition’s youngest winner. Plus, one additional composer, Avik Sarkar (b. 2001), received an honorable mention. The celebratory evening also featured a performance by the Emissary Quartet of the 2017 SCA-winning composition One Wish, Your Honey Lips composed by Annika K. Socolofsky.

The nine winners and honorable mention of the 2018 BMI Student Composer Awards.

The nine winners and honorable mention in the 2018 BMI Student Composer Awards.
Top row: Katherine Balch, Ari Sussman, Jonathan Cziner, Miles Walter, Avik Sarkar;
bottom row: Amy Thompson, J. P. Redmond, Gabriella Smith, Saad Haddad, and Matthew Schultheis.

Jonathan Cziner’s 2018 SCA and William Schuman Prize-winning composition Resonant Bells was selected for the 2018 New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Cone Composition Institute and will receive its world premiere performance by the NJSO under the direction of David Robertson at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium on July 14th, 2018. Saad Haddad’s 2018 SCA-winning composition Takht, which was one of the works selected for the 2017 NJSO Cone Institute, will be performed on May 25, 2018 by the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Yang Yang at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, China during the 2018 International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) World New Music Days.

Alexandra du Bois, Jeremy Gill, Shawn Jaeger, and David Schober served as preliminary panelists this year. The final judges were Michael Daugherty, John Harbison, Shafer Mahoney, Judith Shatin, and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich is the permanent Chair of the competition. The BMI Student Composer Awards recognize superior musical compositional ability with annual educational scholarships totaling $20,000. This year, nearly 700 online applications were submitted to the competition from students throughout the Western Hemisphere, and all works were judged anonymously. BMI, in collaboration with the BMI Foundation, has awarded over 600 grants to young composers throughout the history of the competition.

Flute quartet performance during the ceremony.

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