67th Annual BMI Student Composer Award Winners Announced

Published: 05.23.2019
BMI Executive Director of Classical and BMIF President Deirdre Chadwick, Kevin Day, Amelia Brey, Matthew Schultheis, Lucy McKnight, Tyler Taylor, Henri Colombat, Anna-Louise Walton, Marco-Adrián Ramos Rodríguez, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich
Aizuri Quartet
BMI Executive Director of Classical and BMI Foundation President Deirdre Chadwick.

Photos by: Amanda Stevens for BMI

The BMI Foundation, in collaboration with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), has announced the nine young classical composers, ages 20 to 27, who have been named winners of the 67th annual BMI Student Composer Awards. Renowned American composer and Chair of the Student Composer Awards Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, BMI Senior Vice President of International and Global Policy Ann Sweeney, and BMI Executive Director of Classical and BMIF President Deirdre Chadwick presented the awards at a private ceremony held on May 21, 2019, at Tribeca 360° in New York City.


The 2019 award winners are:

  • Amelia Brey – age 24, studies at The Juilliard School

  • Henri Colombat – age 21, studies at McGill University

  • Kevin Day – age 23, studies at Texas Christian University

  • Liam Kaplan – age 21, studies at Oberlin Conservatory

  • Lucy McKnight – age 20, Carlos Surinach Prize, awarded to the youngest winner of the competition, studies at the University of Southern California

  • Marco-Adrián Ramos Rodríguez – age 23, William Schuman Prize, awarded for most outstanding score, studies at The Juilliard School

  • Matthew Schultheis – age 21, studies at Indiana University

  • Tyler Wayne Taylor– age 26, studies at Indiana University

  • Anna-Louise Walton – age 27, studies at The Royal Conservatory of The Hague


One composer also received an honorable mention in the competition: Katie Palka, an 18-year-old student of Ryan Francis in Portland.

“We are delighted to honor these deserving and talented young composers” said Deirdre Chadwick, who also serves as Director of the Student Composer Awards. “And we look forward to watching them as they embark on the journey of a rich life in music.”

The celebratory evening featured a performance by the Grammy-nominated Aizuri Quartet of the 2018 SCA-winning composition Carrot Revolution, composed by Gabriella Smith. Alexandra du Bois, Jeremy Gill, Shawn Jaeger and David Schober served as preliminary panelists this year. The final judges were Kati Agócs, Donald Crockett, Stephen Jaffe and Elena Ruehr. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Music among many other accolades, is the permanent Chair of the competition.

The BMI Student Composer Awards recognize superior musical compositional ability with annual educational scholarships totaling $20,000. This year, nearly 700 online applications were submitted to the competition from students throughout the Western Hemisphere, and all works were judged anonymously. BMI, in collaboration with the BMI Foundation, has awarded over 600 grants to young composers throughout the history of the competition.


About the Award Winners


Amelia Brey — Ar(i/e)as for wind quintet

Amelia Brey’s (b. 1994) music has been described as possessing “haunting beauty” and “a deep, disquieting power” (National Sawdust Log). Her works have been performed by Ensemble Dal Niente, The Juilliard Orchestra, Ensemble Connect, and LAM House Ensemble. Hailing from Tallahassee, Florida, Brey studied with Michael Slayton and Stan Link at Vanderbilt University; she is currently a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow at the Juilliard School, where she studies with Robert Beaser.

Henri Colombat — Goûts égouttés... gouttes for brass dectet

Henri Colombat’s (b. 1997) recent works are constructed by accumulating smaller musical objects, with characteristic behaviors and personalities, to produce teeming sound masses. Through this process Colombat hopes to manipulate tensions between the identity of the individual and the cacophony of the whole, and provide his listeners with multiple paths of listening, each with its own language of twists and turns. An active advocate for contemporary music, Colombat worked as president of the McGill Association of Student Composers to organize concerts of student works and colloquia for the 2018-2019 academic year.In 2018 Colombat won first prize in the Luba Zuk composition competition resulting in a commissioned work for two pianos based on the poetry of Anne Hébert. At McGill, Colombat has also worked as composer in residence with the university’s saxophone quartet and brass ensemble. In 2018 he composed for the Soundscape festival in Cesena, Italy as well as Quatuor Bozzini’s lab in Vancouver BC. In 2017 Colombat was featured in McGill’s “Canadian Music Days” and was commissioned to write for the “Quo Vadis Schubert” project in Boston. Colombat’s music has been performed and workshopped at the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (NEC) and the Laboratoire de Musique Contemporaine de Montréal. He has also received the Louis Cheslock Award in composition from the Peabody Preparatory. Colombat grew up in Baltimore, Maryland where he studied composition with Judah Adashi and completed his undergraduate studies at McGill University with Jean Lesage and Jon Rea. He holds bachelor’s degrees in music composition and music theory. Through private lessons and summer courses Colombat has had the opportunity to work with composers Philippe Leroux, Wim Henderickx, Jason Eckardt, Nicole Lizée, and Luis Naón.

Kevin Day — Havana for wind ensemble

Kevin Day (b. 1996) is a composer, conductor, and multi-instrumentalist from Arlington, Texas. Day graduated in May 2019 from Texas Christian University with his Bachelor of Music in Instrumental Performance Degree, where he studied euphonium and tuba with Richard Murrow, jazz piano with Joey Carter, composition with Neil Anderson-Himmelspach, Blaise Ferrandino, and Till Meyn, and conducting with Germán Guitiérrez and Eddie Airheart. He will be pursuing his Master of Music in Music Composition at the University of Georgia in the fall of 2019, where he will study with composer Peter Van Zandt Lane and conductor Cynthia Johnston Turner. Day has composed over 120 works for instrumental solo, concert band, orchestra, chamber, and choral groups. His works have been premiered across the United States and in South Africa. Kevin Day has received premieres and performances from the TCU Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Trombone Choir, and Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble. Day has won national composition contests such as the 2nd Annual Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Young Composers Competition, the Tribeca New Music Young Composers Competition, and the Dallas Winds Fanfare Contest, as well as being a finalist twice for the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award and once for the Novus New Music Call for Scores Contest. Day has also held a composer-in-residence position with the Next Gen Chamber Players (Now Mansfield Philharmonic) in Mansfield, TX. He has guest conducted the Arlington High School Symphony Orchestra, the Greater Fort Worth Community Band, the Next Gen Chamber Players, the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra, the TCU Symphonic Band, the TCU Symphony Orchestra, the TCU Concert Band, and the TCU Wind Symphony. He has also worked with and has been mentored by renowned composers Gabriela Lena Frank, Julie Giroux, John Mackey, William Owens, and Frank Ticheli. Kevin is a member of BMI, TMEA, ITEA, the Gamma Sigma chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi (alumnus), and the Delta Mu chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (alumnus). He is also a member of the Millennium Composers Initiative. Day's works have been recorded/distributed by Mark Records (Naxos) and are published by Murphy Music Press, LLC, Cimarron Music, and Kevin Day Music.

Liam Kaplan- 8 Preludes for piano
Pianist and composer Liam Kaplan (b. 1997) has appeared at Weill Recital Hall, Tenri Cultural Institute, Merkin Hall, and many other venues across the United States. He has enjoyed the performance of his compositions by ETHEL, the Talea Ensemble, the Locrian Chamber Players, the Da Capo Chamber Players, and the JACK Quartet, among others. In January 2019 he received a FIG Grant from Oberlin Conservatory to record his debut album of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II, which is currently in post-production. In May 2019 Kaplan appeared as the soloist in Messiaen’s Couleurs de la cité céleste with the Oberlin Sinfonietta conducted by Tim Weiss. In 2018, Raphael Jiménez led the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra in the premiere of his new work Rhapsody on a Chorale for string orchestra. Kaplan won Oberlin’s John Elvin and Rudolf Serkin prizes, and he won first prize in the Inventions category of the 2013 Rosalyn Tureck International Bach Competition. He is a 7-time finalist of the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, and Tribeca New Music named him an Emerging Composer 3 times. Kaplan has received scholarships to study at the Meadowmount School of Music, Art of the Piano, and the Aspen Music Festival. He studied piano with Marcia Eckert, composition with Eleanor Cory, double bass with Judith Sugarman, and music theory with Gordon Minette at Mannes Prep. Piano teachers also include his mentor Seymour Bernstein, who is the subject of Ethan Hawke’s acclaimed documentary, Seymour: An Introduction, in which he is a featured performer. Kaplan is currently a rising fourth-year student at Oberlin where he studies piano with Alvin Chow and composition with Elizabeth Ogonek, Jesse Jones, and Stephen Hartke.


Lucy McKnight - plunge for two violas, cello, two basses
Lucy McKnight (b. 1998) is a composer, singer, and cellist from Los Angeles. She is currently studying composition at USC Thornton School of Music with Sean Friar, and has studied with Ted Hearne and Andrew Norman. She also studied at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland for the Spring 2018 semester. Her music has been performed across the U.S. by numerous ensembles, including the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Versipel New Music, Wild Rumpus, the Norfolk Contemporary Ensemble, and Transient Canvas. In 2017, Lucy was the Young Composer in Residence for Sunset ChamberFest. She has been a fellow at the Norfolk New Music Workshop, New Music on the Point, and the Alba Music Festival Composition Program. Her string quartet, “Misery made me a fiend,” which earned a first place prize in Webster University’s 2017 Young Composers’ Competition, was recorded by Amaranth Quartet in San Francisco in April 2019. In June 2019, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France will premiere her “Thunderhead” as part of IRCAM Manifeste 2019 in Paris, where she will study with Kaija Saariaho.


Marco-Adrián Ramos Rodríguez- Toys in a Field for orchestra
Marco-Adrián Ramos (b. 1995) is a Mexican-American composer and arranger who has written for a variety of media including works for voice, instrumental ensembles, and dance. He has attended the New York Summer Music Festival, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the European-American Musical Alliance, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, and the Next Festival of Emerging Artists; composers with whom he has had the pleasure of working include Christopher Lacy, Christopher Rouse, Derek Bermel, Aaron Jay Kernis, Gabriela Lena Frank, Mari Kimura, and Arturo Márquez. He is the recipient of a 2016 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, as well as twice being a finalist. In 2018, he was awarded an artist grant from the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures in conjunction with composer-mentor Gabriela Lena Frank, and a 2019 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was also awarded the Arthur Friedman Prize in 2018 “for an outstanding orchestral work”; the piece Toys in a Field was premiered under the baton of Jeffrey Milarsky with the Juilliard Orchestra in Alice Tully Hall. Marco-Adrián studies at The Juilliard School, where he has been the recipient of the Gretchaninoff Memorial Prize, Henry Mancini Fellowship, and the Rodgers & Hammerstein Scholarship, as well as serving as a Teaching Fellow in the Ear Training department. He is currently in the studio of Juilliard faculty member Robert Beaser.


Matthew Schultheis - The Temptation of Saint Anthony for chamber ensemble
Matthew Schultheis (b. 1997) is a composer and pianist from Virginia. He is currently pursuing a B.M. in composition at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University as a Jacobs Scholar. His principal teachers in composition have included David Dzubay, Sven-David Sandström, Aaron Travers, and Don Freund. Winner of three consecutive BMI Student Composer Awards, he has received additional awards from ASCAP, SCI, the Music Teachers National Association, and the National YoungArts Foundation. He has been commissioned by the Society of Composers, Inc. to write for the Sound Icon Ensemble and by Indiana University’s New Music Ensemble .Other  works have been performed by the Mivos Quartet, Claire Chase, Jenny Lin, Sō Percussion, and the Del Sol String Quartet. He has attended composition festivals at Bowdoin, Tanglewood, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the Brevard Summer Music Institute, and the EAMA–Nadia Boulanger Institute in Paris. An accomplished pianist, Matthew currently studies with Jean-Louis Haguenauer at IU; past teachers include Winston Choi and Lisa Emenheiser. He has performed at the Kennedy Center and was the pianist for the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra from 2013-2016, returning as a guest soloist for their 2016/17 season. Actively involved in performing new music, he has been a member of the Indiana University New Music Ensemble since 2016. He made his solo debut with NME in April 2018, performing György Ligeti's Piano Concerto.

Tyler Wayne Taylor - Liberation Compromise for 17 players

Tyler W. Taylor (b. 1992) was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Music in composition at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music with a minor in music theory and a secondary minor in horn performance. He studies composition with Aaron Travers, as well as horn with Jeff Nelsen and Dale Clevenger. He earned his MM from the Eastman School of Music where he studied composition with David Liptak and Bob Morris, and horn with W. Peter Kurau. He earned his BM from the University of Louisville where he studied composition with Steve Rouse and Krzysztof Wołek, and horn with Bruce Heim. His latest performances include the premiere of his duo for marimba and horn Dispositions, commissioned by Jake Nelson; a duo for trombone and piano Canned, commissioned by Cole Bartels; and his master’s thesis Liberation Compromise for 17 players – winner of the 2016 Howard Hanson Ensemble Prize. Other notable performances include his sinfonietta Encompass – winner of the 2015 Howard Hanson Ensemble Prize – during the 2017 University of Louisville New Music Festival and his mixed sextet Burlesque Suite performed by members of the Talea Ensemble. Tyler’s recent pieces are explorations of the different ways identity can be expressed in musical scenarios. Common among these pieces is a sense of contradiction – sometimes whimsical, sometimes alarming – that comes from the interaction of diverse musical layers. This expression of contradiction likely comes from his being a person of mixed race and feeling neither white nor black; being raised on hip hop and R&B while inheriting a European tradition of “classical art music” as his primary form of musical expression in spite of having little or no other cultural ties to Europe, and pursuing a career in a field that generally lacks representation of his demographic.


Anna-Louise Walton -Basket of Figs for flute, clarinet, & voice

Anna-Louise Walton (b.1991) is an American composer of chamber and electronic music, in which she explores concepts of limited development, the notation of improvisatory rhythms, and utilization of found objects. She draws inspiration from natural spaces as well as the sounds and rhythms of everyday life. Her works have been performed by ensembles such as Talea Ensemble, Trio Catch, Fonema Consort, Quatuor Diotima, Mivos Quartet, Surplus Ensemble, Ecce Ensemble, Switch~ Ensemble, and Versipel Collective.  Her music has also been featured at IRCAM’s ManiFeste, Darmstadt International Summer Course, Heidelberger Frühling Festival, Schloss Summer Academy, impuls Festival, VIPA Festival, Electric LaTex Festival, New Music on the Bayou, and highSCORE Festival. Her works have been performed in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, New Orleans, Houston, Paris, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Spain. Though Ms. Walton did not start composing formally until her junior year at Scripps College, where she received a B.A. in music studying under Tom Flaherty, she grew up playing the piano and singing from a young age.  She then went on to study composition at Kunstuniversität Graz with Beat Furrer. Ms. Walton received an M.A. in music composition from Tulane University in 2018, where she studied with Maxwell Dulaney and Rick Snow. She then went on to study Sonology at The Royal Conservatory in The Hague. She will begin a DMA in composition at Columbia University in the Fall of 2019.