Nine young composers, ranging in age from 14 to 26, have been named winners in the 50th Annual BMI Student Composer Awards. Frances W. Preston, BMI President and CEO, announced the decisions of the jury and presented the awards at a reception held June 7 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Milton Babbitt, Chairman of the awards, and Ralph N. Jackson, Director of the awards, joined in the presentations.
Awards Chairman Milton Babbit congratulates the winners of the BMI Student Composer Awards: (front) David T. Little, Awards Chairman Milton Babbitt, Sebastian Chang; (middle) Christopher Ariza, John Kaefer, Jeff Myers, Derek Johnson; (back) Geoffrey M. Wooden, Colin Bradley Pridy, Gordon Beeferman
The 2002 BMI Student Composer Award winners are: Christopher Ariza (age 25, studies at New York University); Sebastian Chang (age 14, studies privately in Orange County, California); Gordon Beeferman (age 25, studies privately in New York City); Derek Johnson (age 26, studies at Indiana University); John Kaefer (age 25, studies at the Juilliard School); David T. Little (age 23, studies at the University of Michigan); Jeff Myers (age 24, studies at the Eastman School of Music); Colin Bradley Pridy (age 24, studies at Dalhousie University); and Geoffrey M. Wooden (age 25, studies at The University of British Columbia).
Past and present winners of the BMI Student Composer Awards gather after the presentation for a family photo with BMI executives
photos: Dana Rodriguez
The BMI Student Composer Awards recognize superior creative talent and winners receive scholarship grants to be applied toward their musical education. More than 700 manuscripts were submitted to the competition from throughout the Western Hemisphere in 2002, and all works were judged under pseudonyms. Cash awards totaled $20,000.
In presenting the Awards, Preston said: “Part of our mission at BMI is to find and encourage new talent and, for the past 50 years, the Student Composer Awards have been wonderfully successful in discovering and encouraging talented young classical composers.”
Gordon Beeferman was named the winner of the 2002 William Schuman Prize, which is awarded to the score judged "most outstanding" in the competition. This special prize is given each year in memory of the late William Schuman, who served for 40 years as Chairman, then Chairman Emeritus, of the BMI Student Composer Awards. Additionally, a special Carlos Surinach Prize, underwritten by the BMI Foundation’s special endowed fund, was awarded to the youngest winner of the competition, Sebastian Chang.
The distinguished 2002 Student Composer Awards’ jury members were: Leslie Bassett, Aaron Jay Kernis, Osvaldo Golijov, Michael Torke and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. The preliminary judges were Chester Biscardi, David Leisner, and Bernadette Speach.
BMI has given 468 scholarship grants to young composers over the years, and many of today's most prominent and active classical composers received their first recognition from the BMI Student Composer Awards. Eleven former winners have gone on to win the coveted Pulitzer Prize in Music. Among the past Student Composer Award winners in attendance that evening were Teo Macero (1953), Mario Davidovsky (1959), Charles Wuorinen (1959, 61, 62, 63), Michael Torke (1982, 83, 84), Aaron Jay Kernis (1976, 82, 83), Steven Mackey (1981) and Tobias Picker (1977). The BMI Student Composer Awards competition is co-sponsored by BMI and the BMI Foundation.