Paul Williams, President of The ASCAP Foundation, has announced that Nina Shekhar has been named the recipient of the 41st annual ASCAP Foundation Rudolf Nissim Prize. Selected by a panel of conductors, Shekhar was honored for Lumina, an approximately 11-minute work for orchestra, and awarded a prize of $5,000. The Jury also awarded Special Distinction to Ross S. Griffey for Essay, a nine-minute work for full orchestra composed in 2015.
Nina Shekhar is a composer who explores the intersection of identity, vulnerability, love and laughter to create bold and intensely personal works. A native of Michigan, Shekhar is currently pursuing her doctorate in Music Composition at Princeton University. She previously completed graduate studies at University of Southern California and undergraduate studies at University of Michigan, earning dual degrees in music composition and chemical engineering. An active educator, Shekhar is a Composer Teaching Artist Fellow for Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and is on faculty at Idyllwild Arts Academy and Brightwork newmusic’s Project Beacon initiative.
According to Shekhar’s program notes, Lumina explores the spectrum of light and dark and the murkiness in between. Using swift contrasts between bright, sharp timbres and cloudy textures and dense harmonies, the piece captures sudden bursts of radiance amongst the eeriness of shadows. Lumina was written for the USC Thornton Symphony and conducted by Donald Crockett (University of Southern California).
Ross S. Griffey of Houston TX writes music in all genres with a particular emphasis on art song. In 2019, his work World of Ice, performed by Nicholas Mogg and Christopher Glynn, premiered at the Oxford Lieder Festival; and Night Music, performed by Joel Sachs and the New Juilliard Ensemble, debuted at Alice Tully Hall. Griffey earned his doctorate from Juilliard.
The judges for this year’s Nissim Prize were: Teddy Abrams, Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra and the Britt Festival; JoAnn Falletta, Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Connie and Marc Jacobson Music Director Laureate of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center and Artistic Adviser to the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra; and Michael Morgan, Music Director and Conductor of the Oakland Symphony, Music Director at Bear Valley Music Festival, Music Director of Gateways Music Festival and Music Director Emeritus of the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera.
Dr. Rudolf Nissim, former head of ASCAP’s International Department and a devoted friend of contemporary composers, established this annual prize through a bequest to The ASCAP Foundation. The Prize is presented annually to an ASCAP concert composer for a work requiring a conductor that has not been performed professionally. A jury of three conductors selects the winning score.
Founded in 1975, The ASCAP Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education and talent development programs. Included in these are songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, recognition and community outreach programs. The ASCAP Foundation is supported by contributions from ASCAP members and from music lovers throughout the United States. www.ascapfoundation.org