Broadcast Music, Inc., in collaboration with the BMI Foundation, has announced the nine young classical composers, ages 14 to 26, who have been named winners of the 63rd annual BMI Student Composer Awards. Renowned American composer and permanent Chair of the Student Composer Awards, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, BMI President and CEO and Honorary Chair of the BMI Foundation Mike O’Neill, and BMI Foundation President Deirdre Chadwick, announced the decisions of the jury and presented the awards at a private ceremony held on May 18, 2015, at the J. W. Marriott Essex House Hotel in New York City.
The 2015 award winners are:
- Matthew Aaron Browne – age 26, studies at the University of Michigan
- Max Michael Grafe – William Schuman Prize, awarded for most outstanding score (tied this year with Daniel Silliman) – age 26, studies at The Juilliard School
- Tonia Ko – age 26, studies at Cornell University
- Thomas Kotcheff – age 26, studies at the University of Southern California
- Joseph Meland – age 21, studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Avik Sarkar – Carlos Surinach Prize, awarded to the youngest winner of the competition - age 14, studies privately in Boston, MA
- Daniel Silliman – William Schuman Prize, awarded for most outstanding score (tied this year with Max Michael Grafe) – age 22, studies at the University of Southern California
- Patricia Wallinga - age 20, studies at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
- Benjamin P. Wenzelberg – age 15, studies at The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division
Two composers also received an honorable mention in the competition: Luis M. Ruelas Romo, a 23-year-old student at New England Conservatory, and Lauren Vandervelden, a 15-year-old private music student in Boise, ID.
Since 1985, the Foundation’s programs have included competitive scholarships for songwriters and composers, operating grants for nonprofit arts presenters, and support for innovative music education initiatives in schools and communities across the country. The BMI Student Composer Awards recognize superior musical compositional ability and grant winners scholarships to be applied toward their musical education; awards this year totaled $20,000. In 2015, more than 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 more than 600 grants to young composers throughout the history of the competition. Congratulations to all the winners!