David Biedenbender has been named recipient of the 38th annual ASCAP Foundation Rudolf Nissim Prize for his composition Cyclotron, a 10-minute work for winds and percussion. The work was chosen from 140 submissions. The Jury also awarded Special Distinction to Huck Hodge for At dawn I chant my own weird hymn, a 22-minute work for solo offstage trumpet, symphonic winds, 2 harps, 2 pianos, 4 percussion, and 3 contrabasses. Earlier this week, Hodge was named the recipient of the Charles Ives Living Award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The $5000 Nissim Prize, named for ASCAP’s former International Department head Dr. Rudolf Nissim who established this annual prize through a bequest to The ASCAP Foundation, is presented annually to an ASCAP concert composer for a work requiring a conductor that has not been performed professionally. A jury of conductors selects the winning score. Previous recipients of the prize include Henry Brant, Michaela Eremiášová, Daron Hagen, Andrew Norman, Behzad Rangbaran, and Augusta Read Thomas. The judges for this year’s Nissim Prize were: David Bloom, Founding Co-Artistic Director and Conductor of Contemporaneous, a New York-based ensemble; Alan Pierson, Artistic Director and Co-founder of Alarm Will Sound, and Principal Conductor of Crash Ensemble (Dublin, Ireland); 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.
According to the press release on the ASCAP website, Cyclotron, which received its world premiere performance on March 16, 2017 during the 2017 National Conference of the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) in Kansas City, Missouri, was “commissioned by the Michigan State University Wind Symphony and Kevin Sedatole, the Director of Bands, Professor of Music and Chair of the conducting area at Michigan State University, which is home to one of the world’s flagship nuclear science research facilities. The composition reflects the East-Lansing Michigan-based composer’s interest in the particle accelerator of the same name, in which charged particles accelerate outwards from the center along a spiral path. Similarly, Cyclotron develops out of a small collection of motifs and gestures, which are layered and transformed over time. The music captures the strange and mysterious beauty of the sub-atomic world.”