BMI Student Composer Awards: 1998

Posted in News on January 1, 1998



New York, New York, June 9, 1998—Eight young composers, ranging in age from 18 to 26, have been named winners in the 46th Annual BMI Student Composer Awards. Ralph N. Jackson, Assistant Vice President, BMI Classical Music Relations and Director of the Student Composer Awards, and Awards Chairman Milton Babbitt announced the decisions of the jury and presented the awards at a reception held today at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

The 1998 BMI Student Composer Award winners are: Gordon Beeferman (age 21, recent graduate of the University of Michigan); Ryan T. Deasy (age 18, recent graduate of Pike High School in Indianapolis); Rafael A. Hernandez III (age 22, recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University); Jeff Myers (age 20, studies at San Jose State University); Paul D. Osterfield (age 24, studies at Cornell University); Joshua Penman (age 18, studies at Yale University); Kevin Putz (age 26, studies at the Eastman School of Music); and Michael Weingartner (age 26, recent graduate of the University of Utah).

Ralph Jackson announced that Kevin Putz and Michael Weingartner were the co-winners of the 1998 William Schuman Prize, which is awarded to the score judged “most outstanding” in the competition. The prize is given in memory of the late William Schuman, who served for 40 years as Chairman, then Chairman Emeritus, of the BMI Student Composer Awards. The BMI Student Composer Awards recognize superior creative talent and winners receive scholarship grants to be applied toward their musical education. More than 400 manuscripts were submitted to the competition in 1998 and all works were judged under pseudonyms. Cash awards totaled $15,000.

The distinguished Student Composer Awards jury members for the 1998 competition were Leslie Bassett, George Crumb, Joseph Schwantner, Michael Torke and Charles Wuorinen. The preliminary judging committee included Chester Biscardi, David Leisner and Bernadette Speach.

During the ceremony, Aaron Jay Kernis, the recipient of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in Music, was presented with a BMI Special Citation of Achievement for “outstanding contribution to the world of classical music.” Mr. Kernis, a former three-time Student Composer Award winner, received his earliest recognition from BMI at age 17. Now 38, he has been performed and commissioned by many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras and chamber music groups. His Pulitzer Prize winning work, String Quartet No. 2, “musica instrumentalis,” was premiered by the Lark String Quartet on January 10, 1998 in Merkin Hall in New York City. Eleven former Student Composer Award winners have gone on to win the coveted Pulitzer Prize in Music.

According to Jackson, BMI has given 432 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. The awards are co-sponsored by BMI and the BMI Foundation.


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