June 6, 2005

53rd Annual BMI Student Composer Award Winners Announced

George Crumb Receives BMI Lifetime Achievement Award

Press Release

NEW YORK, June 6, 2005—Eight young composers, ranging in age from 10 to 25, have been named winners in the 53rd Annual BMI Student Composer Awards. Del R. Bryant, BMI President and CEO, announced the decisions of the jury and presented the awards at a reception held today at Le Parker Meridien 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. 

The 2005 BMI Student Composer Award winners are Preben Antonsen (age 14, studies privately with John Adams in Berkeley, California); Sebastian Chang (age 17, studies at Curtis Institute of Music); Glenn Crytzer (age 24, studies at Cleveland Institute of Music); Andrew Jeffrey Norman (age 25, studies privately with Donald Crockett in Los Angeles, California); Joseph Sheehan (age 24, studies at Indiana University); Jeff Stanek (age 21, studies at Indiana University); Conrad Tao (age 10, studies privately with Christopher Theofanidis in New York City); and Spencer Stuart Topel (age 25, studies at Cornell University).

A highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award, BMI’s highest honor in the classical field, to composer George Crumb on the occasion of his 75th Birthday Year. Crumb, a 1956 BMI Student Composer Award winner, was cited as a “true American original,” and honored for his “profound gift of music to the world.” Among his many honors are the Pulitzer Prize in Music, a Grammy Award, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Cannes Classical Award, the Prince Pierre de Monaco Gold Medal, and the Brandeis University Creative Arts Award. He has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1975 and was named “Composer of the Year” in 2004 by Musical America. Crumb held the position of Annenberg Professor of the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught for over 30 years.

The BMI Student Composer Awards recognize superior creative talent and winners receive scholarship grants to be applied toward their musical education. This year, more than 500 manuscripts were submitted to the competition from throughout the Western Hemisphere, and all works were judged under pseudonyms. Cash awards totaled $20,500.

Joseph Sheehan 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, two special Carlos Surinach Prizes, underwritten by the BMI Foundation’s special endowed fund, were awarded to the youngest winners, Preben Antonsen and Conrad Tao.

This year’s distinguished jury members included Robert Beaser, John Eaton, Steven Mackey, Cindy McTee, and Joseph Schwantner; the preliminary judges were Chester Biscardi, Shafer Mahoney and Bernadette Speach.

BMI has given 493 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.

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