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ASU Orchestra, conductor Anderson are American Prize semi-finalists

Article Published: May. 27, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

The Appalachian Symphony Orchestra and conductor James Allen Anderson are semi-finalists for the American Prize competition.

The orchestra is based in Appalachian State University's Hayes School of Music. Anderson is an assistant professor in the music school.

Semi-finalists in orchestral and choral performance and orchestral and choral conducting were selected from applications received from 26 states and the District of Columbia. Finalists in all categories will be selected in May, and winners of The American Prize will be announced in mid-June.

Anderson's and the orchestra's selection as semi-finalists is based on two recordings submitted to the competition - Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun," recorded in December 2007, and David Maslanka's "Symphony No. 6," which had its world premiere on campus in 2004. Both pieces were recorded in Rosen Concert Hall on campus.

The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit, national competitions unique in scope and structure, designed to recognize and reward the very best in the performing arts in the United States. The American Prize was founded in 2009.

The American Prize was founded from the belief that much of the excellent music being made in this country goes unrecognized and unheralded, not only in major cities, but all across the country: in schools and churches, in colleges and universities, and by community and professional musicians.

The American Prize seeks to fill the gap that leaves excellent artists and ensembles struggling for visibility and viability. The prize recognizes and rewards the best America produces, without bias against small city versus large, or unknown artist versus well known.

Winners of The American Prize receive cash prizes, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition based on submitted recordings of their performances.
In addition to monetary rewards and commentary from judges, winners will be profiled on The American Prize website, with video and audio links to winning performances.

David Katz is the chief judge of The American Prize.

Professional conductor, award-winning composer, playwright, actor and arts advocate, Katz was the founder and for 12 years chief judge of the Friedrich Schorr Memorial Performance Prize in Voice international competition. He is author of "MUSE of FIRE," the acclaimed one-man play about the art of conducting.

Joining Katz in selecting winners of The American Prize is a panel of judges as varied in background and experience and as geographically diverse as Katz hopes the winners of The American Prize to be. Made up of distinguished musicians representing every region of the country, the group includes choral and orchestral conductors of professional, school, community and faith-based ensembles, tenured professors and orchestra and choral musicians.

"Most artists will probably never win a Grammy award, or a Pulitzer, or a Tony, or ever even be nominated," Katz said, "but that does not mean that they are not worthy of recognition and reward. Quality in the arts is not limited to the coasts, or to the familiar names, or only to graduates of the most famous schools. It is on view all over the United States, if you take the time to look for it. The American Prize exists to encourage and herald that excellence."

By shining a light on nationally recognized achievement, The American Prize gives winners world-class bragging rights to use in promotion right at home. "If The American Prize builds local pride, or helps increase the audience, or grows the donor base, or stimulates recruitment for winning ensembles and their conductors, then we have fulfilled our mission," Katz said.

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