Eleven young classical composers ranging in age from 15 to 25 have been named winners in the 55th Annual BMI Student Composer Awards. BMI President and CEO Del R. Bryant announced the decisions of the jury and presented the awards at a reception held May 21 at the Jumeirah Essex House Hotel in New York City. Milton Babbitt, chairman of the awards, and Ralph N. Jackson, President of the BMI Foundation, Inc. and director of the awards, joined in the presentations.
Read bios of the Student Composer Award winners
The 2007 awards were presented to Sebastian Chang (age 19, studies at the Curtis Institute of Music); Bryan Christian (age 22, studies at Indiana University); Eric Guinivan (age 23, studies at the University of Southern California); Gabrielle Nina Haigh (age 15, studies at the Laurel School in Shaker Heights, Ohio); Aaron Holloway-Nahum (age 24, studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London); Shawn Jaeger (age 22, studies at the University of Michigan); Otto Muller (age 25, studies at the University of Buffalo (SUNY); Clint Needham (age 25, studies at Indiana University); Matthew Peterson (age 22, studies at Indiana University); Nathan Shields (age 23, studies at the Juilliard School), and Roger Zare (age 21, studies at the University of Southern California).
The BMI Student Composer Awards recognize superior creative talent and winners receive scholarship grants to be applied toward their musical education. In 2007, more than 400 manuscripts were submitted to the competition from throughout the Western Hemisphere, and all works were judged under pseudonyms. Cash awards totaled $20,000. Clint Needham was the named the winner of the 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, the Carlos Surinach Prize, awarded to the youngest winner in the competition, went to Gabrielle Nina Haigh.
The 2007 Student Composer Awards jury members were Richard Danielpour, David Dzubay, Christopher Rouse, Gunther Schuller and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. The preliminary judges were Chester Biscardi, David Leisner and Bernadette Speach.
BMI has given 514 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. The BMI Student Composer Awards competition is co-sponsored by BMI and the BMI Foundation, Inc.
The BMI Foundation, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation founded in 1985 to support the creation, performance, and study of music through awards, scholarships, commissions and grants. Tax-deductible donations to the Foundation come primarily from songwriters, composers and publishers, BMI employees and members of the public with a special interest in music. Because both the Foundation staff and the distinguished members of the Advisory Panel serve without compensation, over 95% of all donations and income are used for charitable grants.