Congratulations to the 2023-2024 CMS Young Composers Competition Winners!

There were over 50 submissions to the 2023-2024 Young Composers Composition from across the United States, Australia, China, and the United Kingdom.

Level I (Ages 12 - 16)

Young Woman with Saxophone

Hannah Wolkowitz, First Place

They Are All Gone

Chesterfield, Missouri; now age 17

Hannah Wolkowitz, now 17, composer and classical saxophonist, lives in Chesterfield, Missouri, and is a junior at Parkway Central High School. As a composer, Hannah was selected as a 2023-2024 fellow for the Luna Lab Composition Program where she is composing a piece to be premiered by the Kronos Quartet. In 2023, Hannah won the top prize in the University of Missouri’s Creating Original Music Project competition. In 2022 and 2023, Hannah composed two prize-winning pieces at Indiana University’s Composition Academy.

As a saxophonist, Hannah performed at the U.S. Navy Band’s International Saxophone Symposium (2023 & 2024) and performed alongside the band in 2023. She has also won numerous concerto competitions in 2022 and 2023, including those held by the University of Illinois-Springfield, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the Alton Symphony Orchestra, and the U.S. Navy Band (3rd place). Hannah has been first chair in the All-Suburban Honors Band for the past five years, second chair in the All-State band for the past three years, and is the saxophonist in a St. Louis Klezmer band.

Hannah was a competitive gymnast for ten years but now enjoys focusing her time on her music, spending time with her family, and doing CrossFit.

Who knew a teeny-tiny fuzz-ball could kill millions of people? They Are All Gone tells the story of COVID. The piece starts with a kick drum solo, mimicking a steady heartbeat, and leads into a flowing, eerie stage of warning. The heartbeat quickens into worry. Quickly, the concern escalates into full-blown panic, with a recurring COVID, or “monster” motif, screaming through the chaos. The whirlwind dies down into a heartbeat, slower than before, which spills into a section of mourning, still attached to the “monster” motif. The piece solemnly ends with the slowing and permanent silence of the heartbeat.

Although life has regained most of its normality, COVID's effects on each of us will never leave. Remembering the grief the entire world felt as millions passed away from this virus is vital. Without the loss of life, we cannot fully understand how blessed we are to have a life to live. This piece is dedicated to all who have died from COVID, families of those who have died from COVID, and the rest of us, who have experienced it.

Judges comments on They Are All Gone:

a very fine piece

…melodic writing is spot on

(Hannah) wield(s) music as an emotional language

this has got to be one of the better COVID tribute-pieces I've heard!

Young boy in red shirt sitting at piano

Winston Schneider, Second Place

Salt Creek Tiger Beetle Quintet

Omaha, Nebraska; Age 16

Winston F. Schneider (b. 2007), is an international award-winning young American composer. He's received an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Honorable Mention Award, and now has 35 composition wins to his name across the U.S. and Europe, including MTNA, NAfME, NFMC and Sempre Musick. He was a MATA Jr. composer. He had his debut of an 11-minute full orchestra work with a professional orchestra when he was 12, a work he wrote at age 10. He was the youngest composer ever to be in Curtis Institute of Music’s summer program.

He’s written music that’s been premiered in NYC, Philadelphia, Dallas, Cleveland, Omaha and more. He's had commissions and premieres by the Grammy-nominated Omaha Symphony, the Grammy Award-winning New York Youth Symphony, the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra, Face the Music (NYC’s premiere youth ensemble), and more.

With early abilities of perfect pitch, transposing in his head, and sometimes, for fun, simultaneously playing piano with each hand in a different key with his eyes closed, Schneider began composing at age 5. He’s a pianist and cellist, and was named Outstanding Performer of 2023 for Global Musical Arts for piano. He studies at the Omaha Conservatory of Music, and is a home-schooled sophomore. You can follow him on social media @winstonfschneider.

Salt Creek Tiger Beetle Quintet was inspired by the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle, an endangered species that is one of the rarest insects in the world. They’re only found on the sandy banks of the Salt Creek in my home state of Nebraska. These brown and green insects are about a half-inch long, and are some of the fastest insects in the world.

I've always been fascinated by Insects, Arachnids, and other crawling Arthropods. I've caught, studied, and released over 100 different species of these creatures. They’ve been the inspiration for a substantial amount of my pieces. One of the first pieces I composed, when I was 5, was called “Cicada named Fada.”

For several years, the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha (my hometown) has been breeding, hatching and releasing Salt Creek Tiger Beetles into their native habitat in order to help their species survive. In 2016, when I was 8, I toured the zoo’s labs, and it was fascinating to see the work they were doing to help the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle.

I hope you enjoy Salt Creek Tiger Beetle Quintet.

Judges comments on Salt Creek Tiger Beetle Quintet:

Outstanding work for string quintet. Perfectly idiomatic.

an incredibly charming piece!

Wonderfully neo-Romantic

Level II (Ages 17-21)

young man in suit holding cello bow

Jack Damon, First Place

Electric Prisms

Bronxville, New York; age 17

Jack Damon is 17 years old and studies composition with Dr. Ira Taxin, cello with Fred Sherry, and piano with Adelaide Roberts at the Juilliard Pre-College. He is a cellist in the Grammy Award-winning New York Youth Symphony Orchestra, as well as a student composer and conducting apprentice in the same organization. Prior to living in New York, Jack studied cello and music theory at the Conservatoire de Boulogne-Billancourt in France and composition with the John Adams Young Composer’s Program in Berkeley, California. Jack is currently a Fellow with Concerts for Compassion, a non-profit organization that provides music education and benefit concerts for refugees. In his spare time, Jack enjoys collecting CD’s, reading scores and studying languages.

Very few pieces I have ever written have come to me as naturally as this one did. Electric Prisms, based on the eponymous painting by 20th-century Ukrainian-French artist Sonia Delaunay, originally stemmed out of my desire to simply write fast, thrilling, and fun music while avoiding both making the music minimalistic (as is so tempting for fast music), and having a slower middle section that is so often used as to become cliché. The first five measures immediately lay out every single harmonic and rhythmic motif in the piece: the figure of two 16th notes then an 8th, the figure of two descending 8th notes, the flurries of 32nds, my liberal use of quartal and non-functional diatonic harmony, and the rhythmic motif of quarter note + 8th note + quarter + 8th in measures four and five. The music plays around, develops, builds and finally suddenly hits a brick wall. Where one would expect a sudden slower section, the forward momentum instead continues. At its most quiet, an atonal fugue begins, building into a triumphant horn melody. The music hits another brick wall with only the clarinet remaining holding long notes, but the piece ends quickly and loudly in a surprise Presto.

Judges comments on Electric Prisms:

Energetic from beginning to end

Really fun piece

Now, that was fun!

an energetic, virtuosic work for piano and wind quintet that grabs the listener’s attention right off the bat and never lets go.

young asian woman with glasses with hands folded

Zhengtao Pan, Second Place

Woodwind Quintet No. 1

Boston, Massachusetts; age 20

Zhengtao Pan was born in 2003 and grew up in Shanghai, China. He is currently studying Jazz Composition and Compostion at Berklee College of Music. He has scored several games and film projects. His commerical game works include "Mist Sequence," "Lost Soul Aside," "One Piece: The Bloodline" etc. He is also responsible for outsourcing music for some game companies such as Byte Dance, Masaya Games, miHoYo Co., Ltd etc. He has also produced and written songs for different game, TV, and animation series. His music has been selected as best large instrumental composition in the Jazz Education Network, Top 20 in the Lei Cine Scoring Project, and Top 20 in the Call for the Scores by the Film Scoring Academy of Europe. Recently he has been selected as the winner of Downbeat Student Award for small ensemble composition and the winner of Young Musician International Competition “Citta’ di Barletta”. Besides scoring, he arranges jazz tunes for jazz orchestra and bands, and writes concert music as well. Several of his concert music were premiered by the HyperCube ensemble, and Cascadia Composers. His music is performed by Grammy Winning Artist Steven Feifke’s Bigband in Newyork. He believes every note functions as a tool to help him express his identity.

He has also collaborated with Budapest Scoring Orchestra, Budapest Jazz Orchestra, US Jazz Ambassadors, European Recording Orchestra and New York Philharmonic among others.

Woodwind Quintet No.1 is a piece that has three movements, shows the composer’s imagination in the sphere of birds' chirp and singing, and in the life of birds. He gave the title “Bird Dance,” “Bird Waltz” and “Bird In Dreamland” to these three movements.

The composer uses shifting meters, and few extended techniques to emulate the bird’s sound in the nature. His harmonic language is influenced by Impressionism music and late 20th century contemporary music. He tries to keep this piece sounds modern but also tonal, memorable and lyrical at the same time.

Judges comments on Woodwind Quintet No. 1:

a really wonderful listening experience.

a charming work for a quintet of flutes and clarinets!

The orchestration is fantastic throughout

Past Winners and Guest Composers


Guest Composer: Nina Shekhar

Level I
First Place: Frazar Henry, 16, Bonita Springs, FL
Second Place: Zachary Jarvis, 16, Danville, CA

Level II
First Place: Jonah Cohen, 18, Farmington Hills, MI
Second Place: José Vargas, 21, San Francisco, CA


Guest Composer: Mark Camphouse

Level I
First Place: William Masters, 16, Elk Grove, CA
Second Place: Frazar Henry, 15, Bonita Springs, FL

Level II
First Place: Kyle Soliz, 20, Algonquin, IL
Second Place: Zixuan Chen, 17, San Diego, CA


Guest Composer: David Werfelmann

Level I
First Place: Luca Pasquini, 16, Denver, CO
Second Place: Frazar Henry, 14, Bonita Springs, FL

Level II
First Place: Daniel DiMarino, 20, Cleveland, Ohio
Second Place: Connor Johnson, 20, Dexter, Michigan


Guest Composer: Angélica Negrón

Level 1
First Place: Noah Tan, 16, Stevensville, Michigan
Second Place: Madeline Cheng, 15, Los Altos, California

Level 2
First Place: Jane Meenaghan, 18, Los Angeles, California
Second Place: Sami Seif, 21, Cleveland, Ohio


Guest Composer: Niloufar Nourbakhsh

Level 1
First Place: Yusei Hata, 16, New York City, New York
Second Place: Caroline Bragg, 15, Brookline, Massachusetts

Level 2
First Place: Paul Novak, 20, Reno, Nevada
Second Place: Jenny Yao, 18, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Honorable Mention: Nathaniel Heyder, 19, Cleveland, Ohio


Guest composer: Kyong Mee Choi

Level 1
Co-1st Place: Solomon Ge, 14, from San Jose California
Co-1st Place: Bo Huang, 16, Rutherford, New Jersey
Co-2nd Place: Brinson Moore, 15, Greenwood, South Carolina
Co-2nd Place: Avik Sarkar, 16, Chestnut Hill, Massachusett

Level 2
First Place, Josiah Sprankle, 21, Kansas City, Missouri
Second Place: Julian Freyo, 21, Cleveland, Ohio


Guest composer: Elizabeth Ogonek

Level 1
First Place: Stella G. Gitelman Willoughby from Cambridge, Massachusetts
Second Place: Li Chibing from Beijing, China
Honorable Mention: Andrew Courtney from Corona del Mar, California

Level 2
First Place: Alex Williams from Kansas City, Missouri
and Lucy McKnight from Los Angeles, California
Honorable Mention: Shiwei Liu from Shanghai, China
Best from St. Louis: Zach Fendelman


Guest composer: Dr. Lansing McLoskey

Level 1
First Place: Simon Cohen, Chicago, Illinois
Second Place: Stella Gitelman Willoughby, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Level 2
First Place: Alex Berko, Solon, Ohio
Second Place: Alex Williams, Columbia, Missouri


Guest composer: Dr. Don Freund

Level 1
First Place: Paul Novak, Reno, Nevada
Second Place: Julia Riew, St. Louis, Missouri
Honorable Mention: Molly Monahan, Holland, Michigan

Level 2
First Place: Erin Hoerchler, Jefferson City, Missouri
Second Place: Gus Knobbe, St. Louis, Missouri
Honorable Mention: Kelly Stathis, Poughquag, New York


Guest Composer: Dr. Beth Denisch

Level 1
First Place: Joseph Jordan, New York City, New York
Second Place (tie): Molly Monahan, Holland, Michigan and Paul Novak, Reno, Nevada

Level 2
First Place: Cooper Minnis, St. Louis, Missouri
Second Place: Gus Knobbe, St. Louis, Missouri


Guest Composer: Dr. Zack Browning

Level 1
First Place: Michael Parsons, Stirling, New Jersey
Second Place: Stuart Ross Carlson, Dexter, Michigan

Level 2
First Place: Jack Hughes, Reston, Virginia
Second Place: Wesley Devore, Centennial, Colorado


Guest Composer: Dr. Stephen Dankner

Level 1
First Place: Ari Korotkin, Birmingham, Michigan
Second Place: Eleanor Bragg, Brookline, Massachusetts
Honorable Mention: Michael Parsons, Stirling, New Jersey and
Felix Jarrar, Bridgeport, Connecticut

Level 2
First Place: Thomas Feng, Fremont, California
Second Place: Wesley Devore, Centennial, Colorado
Honorable Mention: Riley Crabtree, Vancouver, Washington


Guest Composer: Shulamit Ran

Level 1
First Place: Alexis Lerner, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey
Second Place: Andrew Stock, St. Louis, Missouri
Honorable Mention: Jared W. Hedges, Lindenhurst, Illinois and Sidarth Jayadev, Saratoga, California

Level 2
Co-First Place: Daniel McCallum, London, UK and
Mahlon Berv, Stamford, Connecticut
Honorable Mention: Alexander Blank, Rock Hill, Missouri and Riley Crabtree, Vancouver, Washington


Guest Composer: Dr. Chen Yi

Level 1
First Place: Jack Hughes, Reston, Virginia
Second Place: Riley Crabtree, Vancouver, Washington
Honorable Mention: Sam Reising, Portland, Oregon

Level 2
First Place: Anthony Hernandez, Columbia, Missouri
Second Place: Lauren Wells, Kansas City, Missouri
Honorable Mention: Cole Perkinson, Portland, Oregon


Guest Composer: Dr. Dinos Constantinides

Level 1
First Place: Cole Perkinson, Portland, Oregon
Second Place: Riley Crabtree, Vancouver, Washington
Honorable Mention: Ian Evans Guthrie, Washougal, Washington

Level 2
First Place: Kristen Walker, Liberty, Missouri
Second Place: William Bryant, Murphysboro, Illinois
Honorable Mention: Marta Sofia Botelho Vieira, Evanston, Illinois/Portugal


Guest composer: Dr. Jared Spears

Level 1
First Place: Yan Zhu, Brentwood, Missouri
Second Place: Gabriel Maichel, St. Louis, MIssouri
Honorable Mention: Cole Perkinson, Portland Oregon and Jack Hughes, Reston Virginia

Level 2
First Place: Daniel Winfield, O'Fallon, Missouri
Second Place: Benjamin Hart, St. Peters Missouri
Honorable Mention: William Bryant, Murphysboro, Illinois and Matthew Mendez, Cambridge, Massachusetts


Guest Composer: Dr. James Mobberley

Level 1
First Place: Jack Hughes, Reston, Virginia
Second Place: Yan Zhu, Brentwood, Missouri
Honorable Mention: Gabriel Maichel, St. Louis, Missouri

Level 2
First Place: Elizabeth Lim, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Second Place: Timothy Eshing, Maryland Heights, Missouri
Honorable Mention: Adam Schumaker, Elsah, Illinois


Guest Composer: Dr. John Cheetham

Level 1
First Place: Yan Zhu, Brentwood, Missouri
Second Place: Jack Popper, St. Louis, Missouri
Honorable Mention: Charlie Capps, St. Louis, Missouri

Level 2
First Place: Louis Goldford, Ballwin, Missouri
Second Place: Benjamin Hart, St. Peters, Missouri
Honorable Mention: Daniel Winfield, St. Charles, Missouri


Guest Composer: Dr. Claude Baker

Level 1
First Place: Benjamin Hart, St. Peters, Missouri
Second Place: Andy Oster, Festus, Missouri

Level 2
First Place: Daniel Godsil, St. Louis, Missouri
Second Place: Michael Dunsmoor, O’Fallon, Missouri