A table with the 2016 BMI Student Composer Award- winning scores.
64th Annual BMI Student Composer Award Winners Announced

64th Annual BMI Student Composer Award Winners Announced

The winning works by nine young composers, ages 15 to 27, include music for orchestra and wind ensemble as well as solo and chamber pieces plus compositions involving electronics.

The BMI Foundation (BMIF), in collaboration with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), has announced nine young composers, ages 15 to 27, as the winners of the 64th annual BMI Student Composer Awards. The winning compositions include works for orchestra and wind ensemble as well as solo and chamber works plus pieces involving electronics. Composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, who serves as the permanent Chair of the Student Composer Awards, Mike O’Neill, BMI President and CEO and BMIF Honorary Chair, and Deirdre Chadwick, BMI’s Executive Director of Classical and the President of BMIF, announced the decisions of the jury and presented the awards at a private ceremony held on May 16, 2016, at the J. W. Marriott Essex House Hotel in New York City.

The 2016 award recipients and their award-winning compositions are:

  • David Bird (b. 1990): Drop for string octet, strobe lights, electronic sounds

  • Jack Hughes (b. 1992): Ripple for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano

  • Paul Mortilla (b. 1995):
    STUPOR for trumpet, bass clarinet, double bass, piano, and drumset

Each year, two additional prizes are given to selected awardees: the William Schuman Prize, for the composer whose score was deemed the most outstanding; and the Carlos Surinach Prize, for the youngest winner in the competition. Tristan Xavier Köster was awarded the 2016 William Schuman Prize and Justin Zeitlinger received the 2016 Carlos Surinach Prize. One additional composer received an honorable mention in the competition: Avik Sarkar (b. 2001) for Purvi for orchestra (two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets in B flat, two bassoons, two horns in F, two trumpets in C, percussion, violins I, violins II, violas, violoncellos, double basses)

Deirdre Chadwick, director of the awards, commented, “These young composers are on the cusp of a professional life in music. This is such a special night for all of us at BMI, to watch them take the next steps towards their future, and shine a light on them as they do so. I hope winning this award helps them trust their instincts, take chances, and move forward with confidence.”

Nearly 700 online applications were submitted to the competition.

The jury members for the 2016 competition were Oscar Bettison, Marti Epstein, Charles Wuorinen, and Yehudi Wyner. The preliminary judges were Carlos Carrillo, Alexandra du Bois, Shafer Mahoney, and David Schober. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, the first female composer to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music, is the permanent Chair of the competition. The BMI Student Composer Award winners receive scholarship grants to be applied toward their musical education; awards this year totaled $19,000. In 2016, nearly 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 over 600 grants to young composers throughout the history of the competition.

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center houses a permanent archive of BMI Student Composer Award-winning scores dating back to the 1953 inaugural competition. Winning scores are annually donated by composers to the collection on a voluntary basis and are available for study within the library.

(—from the press release)

The nine 2016 BMI Student Composer Award winners with Deirdre Chadwick, Mike O’Neill, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

The nine 2016 BMI Student Composer Award winners with BMI’s Executive Director of Classical Music/BMIF President Deirdre Chadwick (far left), BMI President and CEO Mike O’Neill (far right in back), and composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, permanent Chair of the Student Composer Awards (far right in front).

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