The BMI Foundation (BMIF), in collaboration with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), has announced the eight young classical composers, ages 18 to 27, who have been named winners of the 68th annual BMI Student Composer Awards. The award-winning works range from an orchestral evocation of Nahua cosmology to a string quartet inspired by somatic therapy created under the mentorship of the Luna Composition Lab. Maya Miro Johnson’s composition when icarus fell, was there a splash?, a 23-minute cantata for soprano, seven instruments and electronics (which was written for Zeitgeist and the Curtis Institute), fetched her the William Schuman Prize, established in 1992 for most outstanding score in the competition, as well as the Carlos Surinach Prize, which has been awarded to the youngest winner of the competition since 1999. This is the first time a composer has simultaneously received both prizes in the history of these awards.
With the postponement of this year’s ceremony, Director of the Awards and BMIF President Deirdre Chadwick announced the recipients online, and the winners will join the 2021 class at a ceremony next year in New York City. The BMIF will celebrate all winners throughout the month of May on the organization’s social media platforms. “We are delighted to honor these deserving and talented young composers,” said Deirdre Chadwick. “And we look forward to honoring them next year and celebrating their diverse body of work this spring.”
The 2020 award winners and their award-winning works are:
Ruby Turok-Squire (b. 1993):
Grammatical Fiction for clarinet, violin, viola, cello (2014) [15′]
In addition 16-year old composer and pianist Henry From received an honorable mention in the competition.
Alexandra du Bois, Jeremy Gill, David Leisner, and David Schober served as preliminary panelists this year. The final judges were Marcos Balter, Marti Epstein, Bernard Rands, and Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Music among many other accolades, serves as the permanent Chair of the competition.
The BMI Student Composer Awards recognize superior musical compositional ability with annual educational scholarships totaling $20,000. This year, nearly 600 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.