Musical America has announced that Mason Bates has been named Composer of the Year and composer/conductor Francisco J. Núñez, Founder and Artistic Director of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, has been named Educator of the Year in the 2018 Music America Awards. Musical America, the United States’ oldest classical music magazine (published now exclusively online with the exception of an annual International Directory of the Performing Arts), recognizes excellence and achievements with an annual award for a composer, an instrumentalist, a vocalist, a conductor, and an educator. From these five awardees, one is named Artist of the Year, which this year is Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons. The other 2018 award recipients are Italian born violinist Augustin Hadelich and American-Canadian soprano Sondra Radvanovsky. In December, the awards will be presented formally at a private ceremony and release party for the 2018 International Directory, which in addition to its industry listings, features tribute articles to each of the 2018 awardees.
In the Musical America tribute article for Mason Bates, Washington Post classical music critic Anne Midgette claims:
At a time when classical music is eagerly, anxiously, even desperately trying to connect with a younger generation, Bates is one of the rare composers who is at once popular, hip, and active at the large classical-music institutions—opera houses and orchestras—that are having the hardest time winning young audiences.
Allan Kozinn, in his tribute article for Francisco J. Núñez, states that Núñez “transformed his choir from a modest community group into a top-drawer ensemble that has toured Europe and Asia, and has won a number of prestigious international prizes, including the top prize at the European Broadcasting Union’s ‘Let the Peoples Sing’ competition in 2015, an award never before given to an American chorus.”