Nine young classical composers, ranging in age from 11 to 26, have been named winners in the 56th Annual BMI Student Composer Awards. BMI Foundation President Ralph N. Jackson and BMI Foundation Advisory Panel member Ellen Taaffe Zwilich announced the decisions of the jury and presented the awards at a reception held May 20 at the Jumeirah Essex House Hotel in New York City.
The 2008 awards were presented to Jacob Bancks (age 26, studies at the University of Chicago); Nicholas Oberg Deyoe (age 26, studies at the University of California San Diego); David Fulmer (age 26, studies at The Juilliard School); Gilbert Galindo (age 26, studies privately in New York City); Trevor M. Gureckis (age 25, studies privately in New York City); Justin Hoke (age 20, studies at the Eastman School of Music); Shawn Jaeger (age 23, studies at Northwestern University); Yeeren I. Low (age 11, studies at The Juilliard School Pre-College Division) and Eric Nathan (age 24, studies at Indiana University). More biographical information is available at www.bmifoundation.org.
Also honored during the ceremony were music administrator Beth Cowart and composer Aaron Jay Kernis, who each received the BMI Foundation’s “Outstanding Musical Citizen Award” for their work as Co-Directors of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute. In making the presentation, Jackson said, “This award is intended to recognize individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their support of American composers and American Music. Beth Cowart and Aaron Kernis are tireless advocates for new music and true champions of the next generation of American composers.”
The BMI Student Composer Awards recognize superior creative talent and winners receive scholarship grants to be applied toward their musical education. In 2008, more than 500 manuscripts were submitted to the competition from throughout the Western Hemisphere, and all works were judged under pseudonyms. Cash awards totaled $20,000. Eric Nathan 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 Yeeren I. Low.
The distinguished 2008 Student Composer Awards jury members were Robert Beaser, Margaret Brouwer, Kevin Puts, Bernard Rands and Charles Wuorinen. The preliminary judges were Chester Biscardi, David Leisner and Bernadette Speech. Milton Babbitt is the permanent Chairman of the awards.
BMI has given 525 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.