Mark Lanz Weiser has been named the recipient of the 35th annual ASCAP Foundation Rudolf Nissim Prize. The prize was awarded for his Symphony No. 2 (Sinfonia Magalhães), a 30-minute work for orchestra which was selected from among 160 entries by a panel of conductors. The $5,000 prize is presented annually to an ASCAP concert composer for a work requiring a conductor that has not been performed professionally.
Weiser, a Los Angeles-based composer, has composed three operas, numerous songs and song cycles, and works for voice and orchestra. His music can also be heard in a number of commercial and independent films.
His Symphony No. 2, subtitled Sinfonia Magalhães (Magellan Symphony), is a musical impression of the first circumnavigation of the globe led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1519. Sailing for Charles the First of Spain, Magellan was tasked with finding a westerly route to the Spice Islands. The voyage led to the discovery of the straits in the southern tip of South America, and the first crossing of the Pacific Ocean. Magellan personally would not return to Spain, as he was killed in a battle with Prince Lapu Lapu in the Philippines. The last remaining ship, The Victoria, led by Juan Sebastián Elcano, would return to Seville almost three years after the day of the fleet’s departure. The symphony is in seven connecting sections: Departure, Easter Mutiny, The Strait, Pacific Crossing, Lapu Lapu and the Death of Magellan, The Victoria, and Return.
The jury also awarded Special Distinction to Jeremy Podgursky of Bloomington, Indiana for As a Spell, Against Falling Objects (or How I Learned to Love Gravity), a 16-minute work for sinfonietta.
The Nissim Prize honors the memory of Dr. Rudolf Nissim and his dedication to ASCAP’s concert composers by hosting this competition. Nissim, former head of ASCAP’s International Department, established the prize through a bequest to the ASCAP Foundation.
The judges for this year’s Nissim Prize were: George Manahan, music director of the American Composers Orchestra and the Portland Opera, and director of orchestral activities at the Manhattan School of Music; Ryan McAdams, whose upcoming conducting engagements include Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Wordless Music Orchestra, Santa Fe Symphony, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Vancouver Symphony, ECCE Ensemble, and Talea Ensemble; and Diane Wittry, music director of the Allentown Symphony (PA), artistic director and conductor of the Ridgewood Symphony (NJ), artistic director (USA) for the International Cultural Exchange Program for Classical Musicians through the Sarajevo Philharmonic (Bosnia), and artistic director for Pizazz Music and the Pizzaz Symphony Orchestra.
(–from the press release)