2018-2019 YCC Winners Announcement | Webster University

CMS Announces Winners of the 2018-2019 Young Composers Competition

The Community Music School of Webster University is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018-2019 Young Composers Competition:

Level One (12-16 years of age):

1st Place: Yusei Hata, 16, from New York City, NY - for "DuetThing"
2nd Place: Caroline Bragg, 15, from Brookline, MA - "Paradise Lost: This Pendant World"

Level Two (17-21 years of age): 

1st Place: Paul Novak, 20, from Reno, NV - "Blimunda Songs"
2nd Place: Jenny Yao, 18, from Cambridge, MA - "Harja"
Honorable Mention: Nathaniel Heyder, 19, from Cleveland, OH - Piano Quartet

These young composers were chosen from over 50 submissions from all over the country and from as far away as China and Armenia.  Each winner is invited to St. Louis on March 23rd where their works will be performed by professional musicians and recorded during the Emerging Composers Concert at 3:00 p.m

In addition to the concert, CMS will host guest composer, Nilou Nourbakhsh, Teaching Artist for the New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers program and founder of the Iranian Female Composers Association.  Winners will have the opportunity to get individual feedback on their work from Ms. Nourbakhsh.   At 10:00 a.m. Ms. Nourbakhsh will join forces with audience members and competition winners to make a graphic score by drawing melodies and outlining colorful blocks of harmonies for interpretation through a collective improvisation as an iPhone Drone Orchestra.  At 1:00 p.m. Webster University’s Dr. David Werfelmann will host a workshop exploring “Habits of Highly Effective Composers.” 

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors Arden and Harry Fisher, both workshops and the concert are free and open to the public.

More About the Winners

More About Guest Composer Nilou Nourbakhsh

More About Emerging Composers Concert and Workshops on March 23, 2019

More About the Young Composers Competition


About the 2018-2019 Young Composers Competition Winners

Level One (12-16 years of age):

1st Place: Yusei Hata, 16, from New York City, NY - for "DuetThing"
Yusei is a 11th grader at Special Music School High School concentrating in composition. He currently studies composition with Manuel Sosa at the Juilliard Pre-College. His former composition teacher is Daniel Felsenfeld at the Juilliard School Music Advancement Program. He is a finalist of the 2016 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Competition, a winner of the 2017 New York State High School Choral Composition Competition and an emerging composer of 2015 Tribeca New Music Young Composer Competition. His works have been performed by The New York Philharmonic, Metropolis Ensemble, faculty members of Curtis Summerfest, college students at the Juiliard School, Erika Dohi, and Face the Music, a youth ensemble based in New York, at venues such as David Geffen Hall, Roulette, National Opera Center, and (Le) Poisson Rouge. Yusei plays violin at Face the Music. He also studies Piano at Juilliard Pre-College.

2nd Place: Caroline Bragg, 15, from Brookline, MA - "Paradise Lost: This Pendant World"
Caroline Bragg (b. 2002) has studied composition and music theory with Alla Cohen since 2010. She was the Patrina Foundation fellow in the 2017-18 Luna Composition Lab, through which she wrote her string quartet Paradise Lost: This Pendant World under the mentorship of Los Angeles-based composer Reena Esmail. She was a first place winner in the 2017 high school division of the Robert Avalon International Competition for Composers and was the 2016 first and second place winner of the Junior Division. She is a two-time finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Competition and has twice been named an Emerging Composer by Tribeca New Music. She has received Honorable Mentions from the Music Teacher’s National Association composition competition at the state level in 2018 and 2017
(Senior Division), 2014 (Junior Division) and 2013 and 2012 (Elementary Division). Caroline studies cello with Eugene Kim through New England Conservatory and plays in the Boston Youth Symphony (BYS), performing on numerous occasions in Symphony Hall, Sanders Theatre and Kresge Auditorium. Along with composing, she enjoys creative writing, for which she has received recognition from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards of 2016.

Level Two (17-21 years of age):

1st Place: Paul Novak, 20, from Reno, NV - "Blimunda Songs"
Paul Novak (b. 1998) writes music that is lyrical but fragmented, exploring the subtleties of instrumental color and drawing influence from literature, art, and poetry. He has been selected as the recipient of numerous national awards, most recently from the Frost Competition, Texas Young Composer’s Competition, Tribeca New Music, Young Composer’s Challenge, and YoungArts Foundation, and has participated in festivals including the first-ever Composer Apprenticeship with NYO-USA, Bowdoin Festival, Fresh Inc Festival, Atlantic Music Festival, BUTI, and more. Originally from Reno, NV, Novak is an undergraduate student at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he has studied with Pierre Jalbert, Anthony Brandt, and Karim Al-Zand. Upcoming dates in Fall 2018 include the Austin Symphony’s performance of his orchestral work on buoyancy and the Chicago Ensemble’s performance of his flute/piano duo 3 Night Pieces.

2nd Place: Jenny Yao, 18, from Cambridge, MA - "Harja"
Jenny Yao (b. 2000) is a composer and pianist from Charleston, South Carolina. Her music seeks to explore the inner machinations of the mind and natural world by conveying warped perceptions of mood and temporality. Since starting composition at age fourteen, she has most recently been recognized as a 2018 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Honorable Mention Recipient, National Finalist in the 2017 and 2018 MTNA Senior Composition Competitions, and 2018 YoungArts Winner in Classical Music. She is also an alumna of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute’s (BUTI) Young Artists Composition Program (2017) and has had her works performed by members of the Charleston Symphony, College of Charleston, and BUTI Young Artist Orchestras. She currently studies with Dr. Edward Hart.

As a pianist since the age of five, she has had the privilege of performing at Weill Hall as a first prize winner of the American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition, and made her orchestral debut with the Kostroma Symphony. And as an advocate for arts education, she founded the Fine Arts Youth Outreach Collective, dedicated to engaging K-12 students in the arts through interactive arts showcases to foster the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts.

Honorable Mention: Nathaniel Heyder, 19, from Cleveland, OH - Piano Quartet
Nathaniel Heyder is a composer and violinist currently residing in Cleveland, Ohio. Throughout his musical career, he has been involved in various music festivals and ensembles as both composer and performer. He has served as concertmaster of the Eastern Music Festival Orchestra, the DC Youth Orchestra, and the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra. Nathaniel has also recently attended the Luzerne Music Center, the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute, and the Atlantic Music Festival. Recognition for his compositions include the YoungArts Merit Award (2017), the Neil Rabaut Memorial Composition Scholarship from the Interlochen Arts Academy, and one of the 2017 NextNotes High School Composition Competition winners, presented by the American Composer’s Forum. Nathaniel is currently attending the Cleveland Institute of Music as an undergraduate, where he studies composition with Keith Fitch and violin with Joan Kwuon.


2018-19 Guest Composer: Niloufar Nourbakhsh

 2019 Guest Composer

Described as "stark" by WNPR, Iranian composer Niloufar Nourbakhsh's music has been commissioned and performed by Symphony Number One, Spark and Echo Project, Women Composers Festival of Hartford, Pianist Erika Dohi for Metropolis Ensemble Piano Series, Calidore and Cassatt String Quartets, and Invoke Quartet at numerous festivals, Atlantic Music Festival, Seal Bay Festival of American Chamber Music, SPLICE institute, New Music for Strings, MusLab electroacoustic festival in Mexico, University of Tennessee Contemporary Festival and more.

Nilou is founder of Iranian Female Composers Association and a strong advocate of music education. She has worked as the site coordinator of Brooklyn Middle School Jazz Academy sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center. She is currently a Teaching Artist for NY Philharmonic Very Young Composers program and teaches piano at Brooklyn Music School. This summer, she will be working with Akropolis Reed Quintet for a new piece as part of I-Park Foundation Artist in Residence.   

Nilou is a Global Citizen Scholarship recipient of Goucher College as well as a Mahoney and Caplan Scholar from University of Oxford. Among her teachers are Lisa Weiss, Laura Kaminsky, Daniel Weymouth and Daria Semegen. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate degree in music composition at Stony Brook University under the supervision of Sheila Silver. 


2018-2019 Young Composers Competition Culminating Events

Saturday, March 23, 2019

10:00 a.m. The iPhone Drone Orchestra with Guest Composer Nilou Nourbakhsh
Nilou will join forces with the audience members and competition winners to make a graphic score by drawing melodies and outlining colorful blocks of harmonies for interpretation through a collective improvisation as an iPhone Drone Orchestra.

1:00 p.m. Habits of the Highly Successful Composer with Webster University's David Werfelmann

3:00 p.m.  Emerging Composers Concert at the CMS Concert Hall, 535 Garden Ave. Webster Groves, MO  63119


About the Young Composers Competition

In 2004 the Community Music School (CMS) of Webster University initiated the Young Composers Competition in an effort to recognize and encourage the creative efforts of budding composers between the ages of 12 and 21. A team of composition judges select first and second place recipients in two levels; Level I is for students 12-16 years of age and Level II is for students 17-21 years of age. The competition reward is the professional performance and recording of winning compositions during the culminating Emerging Composers Concert.

In addition, winning works are reviewed by a guest composer during a face-to-face master class focused on individual feedback and the field of composition in general. Previous guest composers include Claude Baker, John Cheetham, James Mobberly, Jared Spears, Dinos Constantinides, Chen Yi, Shulamit Ran, Stephen Dankner, Zack Browning, Beth Denisch, Don Freund, Lansing McLoskey, Elizabeth Ogonek and Kyong Mee Choi.

The Young Composers Competition is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Arden and Harry Fisher.