February 15, 2023: From the American Choral Directors Association Composition Initiatives Standing Committee
Choongwoo Steve Ko and Stephen Mallon, Winners of the 2023 ACDA Focus Prize
The ACDA Composition Focus Prize is a new initiative structured to meet identified gaps in repertoire needs of ACDA members and their ensembles. The specific type of repertoire in the call varies from year to year; this inaugural call was for compositions Treble Choirs and Tenor/Bass Choirs. The contest drew over 100 applications from the US and abroad. After careful deliberation, our panel of six judges is pleased to announce the following results:
First Prize: Medusa – Stephen Mallon (text by Stephen Mallon), for SSAA choir with alto glockenspiel or celesta
Stephen Mallon is a composer, vocalist, video editor and digital artist with a background in architecture and theater design. His early exposure to choral music as boy soprano turned into a lifelong passion. Many of his choral compositions are settings of his own poems. In addition to writing for choral and instrumental ensembles, he has created experimental music and art noise using found sounds, digital synthesis, pattern generators and home-made instruments. He lives in southeastern Pennsylvania where he sings with Bucks County Choral Society and Cordus Mundi, a 14 voice male a cappella ensemble that has premiered several of his compositions.
Second Prize: The Echoing Green – Jeffrey Bernstein (text by William Blake) for SSA choir, a cappella
Jeffrey Bernstein is founding artistic and executive director of the Pasadena Chorale and artistic director of the Los Angeles Daiku. He holds music degrees from Harvard, Yale and UCLA, and he served for eleven years as director of choral music at Occidental College. Bernstein has led choir tours on four continents and traveled extensively as a guest conductor, leading choirs and orchestras in Europe, Japan and the United States. The LA Choral Lab released Bernstein’s 21st Century 23rd Psalm on its debut album, and his composition The Human Journey was awarded second place in the American Prize for choral composition in 2017.
First Prize: A Thousand Winds – Choongwoo Steve Ko (text by Mary Elizabeth Frye) for TTBB choir with piano and optional rainstick
Choongwoo Steve Ko is a first-year DMA student in Choral Conducting at the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently studying with Drs. J.D. Burnet and Suzanne Pence and leading University Tenor/Bass Chorus at UT Austin. Along with his main career, conducting, Ko composes prolifically based on his bi-culturalism in Korean and American cultures. Formerly, he taught secondary choirs at Keswick Christian School in St. Petersburg, FL. Ko holes his MM in Choral Conducting from University of Southern California, BS in Music at Eastern Michigan University, and BS in Electrical Engineering at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor.
Second Prize: Casey At the Bat – Christopher Alexander (text by Ernest Lawrence Thayer) for TTBB choir, a cappella
Christopher Alexander is a composer and arranger from St. Joseph, Missouri. He received his Bachelor of Science in Vocal Music Education degree from Missouri Western State University. His works have been published with GIA Music Publications and Hal Leonard. Mr. Alexander currently serves as the pianist and primary arranger for The New Generation Singers, a Christian singing youth group based in St. Joseph, Missouri. He is a member of NAfME, ACDA, MCDA, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity. Visit www.cantareworks.com to see more of Mr. Alexander’s compositions and arrangements.
The judges also wish to express Honorable Mentions for the following entries:
The Gift to Sing – Jonathan Madden (text by James Weldon Johnson) for SSAA choir and piano Preview the Score
O Star of Strength – Jessica French (text by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) for SSA choir and piano Preview the Score
Vinea mea electa – Gerald Gurss (text by Francisco Martins [1628-1680]) for TTBB divisi choir, a cappella Preview the Score
ACDA wishes to thank the choral industry publishers who helped sponsor the Focus Prize: Alfred Music, Beckenhorst Press, ECS Publishing Group, Fred Bock Publishing Group, and Walton Music/GIA. These publishers actively support the creation of new repertoire for Treble and Tenor/Bass choirs; all entrants are encouraged to consider them as options for publishing, and conductors are encouraged to consider them for repertoire for these choirs.
The ACDA Composition Committee’s mission is to “encourage the creation of quality new music for choruses of all sizes, ages, and abilities by actively supporting the work of living composers.” We advocate for the composer membership of ACDA and seek to foster increased collaboration and awareness between conductors and composers. As part of this mission, the Committee administers two annual Prizes (as of 2023): The Raymond Brock Award (alternating annually between Student composers and Professional composers; entries due each August) and the Focus Prize (unique repertoire types; entries due each January). The next prize is the Brock Student Award, opening in March 2023 with entries due by late summer 2023.
THANK YOU TO OUR CO-SPONSORS!
About the Competition
The new ACDA Composition Focus Prize is structured to meet identified gaps in repertoire needs of ACDA members and their ensembles. The specific type of repertoire in the call will vary from year to year. A total of $6,000 will be awarded.
The submission period for Treble Choirs and Tenor/Bass Choirs has closed. Check back for the next competition announcement.
The 2023 Focus Prize call is for compositions focused on Treble Choirs and Tenor/Bass Choirs. A $2000 winner’s prize and a $1000 runner-up prize will be awarded for Treble Choir pieces and, similarly, a $2000 winner’s prize and a $1000 runner-up prize will be awarded for Tenor/Bass pieces. (There is no public performance/premiere connected to this prize.)
Focus Prize Sponsors:
ACDA thanks the choral publishers who have co-sponsored this prize: Alfred Music, Beckenhorst Press, ECS Publishing Group, Fred Bock Publishing Group and Walton Music & GIA.
The competition opens October 1, 2022, and closes January 15, 2023; the winners and runners-up will be announced in February 2023. The submission period for Treble choirs and Tenor/Bass choirs has closed.
- Composers must be members of ACDA. To learn more about ACDA membership categories and join, click here.
- There are no age requirements for this prize. Entries are welcomed from all composers of any age or career stage. (updated 10/27/2022)
- Submitted works must not be published, self-published, or publicly marketed but may have been previously performed or premiered.
- Revoicings of previously published, self-published, or publicly marketed SATB works are not eligible.
- Composers may submit only one work for consideration. You must choose between submitting in the Treble Choirs category or the Tenor/Bass Choirs category. You may not submit in both categories.
- All voicings and difficulty levels are welcomed: SA or TB in 2-4 or more parts, for school (any age/ability level), church, community, university, or professional choirs.
- Works may be unaccompanied or accompanied, and may include additional instrumentation.
- Due to performance time constraints, works between three and seven minutes in length will receive priority consideration.
- Entries will be judged on the creative strength of their musical ideas, their effectiveness in communicating their text, their excellence of craft, and their contribution to the repertoire for their intended type of choir. Style or difficulty level are not factors in judging.
- Previous winners of the Brock Commission or Brock Prize (professional and student) are not eligible for this competition.
- Remove the composer’s name anywhere it occurs in your score, and prepare a PDF for upload.
- Name the file [Title of Work].pdf. Do not include composer name anywhere in the music OR in the filename; judging is anonymous.
- Prepare an mp3 of a performance recording or a digital/MIDI mockup of the piece for upload. (Represent your piece in the best possible light, but know that we judge the musical composition itself, not the quality of the recording.)
- Label the MP3 [Title of Work].mp3.
- Do not include the composer’s name in the file name; judging is anonymous.
- Submit a completed application. The submission period of Treble choirs and Tenor/Bass Choirs has closed.
- All submissions must be received by 11:59 p.m. CDT on January 15, 2023. Late submissions will not be considered for any reason. Please consider the deadline when preparing your submission to ensure you have time to address any technical support questions or issues that may arise. Technical support will not be provided after noon on January 13.
For questions or technical support, please email .