ATLANTA—A testament to the excellence in creativity, education and innovation within the School of Music at Georgia State University, The American Prize has awarded top honors this year to students and faculty in Choral Performance, Composition and Choral Conducting. The prestigious prize in the performing arts is the nation’s most comprehensive series of nonprofit competitions designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the United States based on submitted recordings.
“This year’s showing in The American Prize is an esteemed recognition of the culture of artistry thriving in the heart of Atlanta within our School of Music,” said Chester Phillips, interim director of the School of Music. “We couldn’t be prouder of our students and faculty for their continued work as musical leaders on a national level.”
The Georgia State University Women’s Chorus earned top honors among recently reviewed applications from across the United States amid the company of tough competition like the Baylor University Chamber Singers and the University of Texas at Arlington A Cappella Choir.
“I am very humbled by this recognition and am grateful for the opportunity to make music with the outstanding students at Georgia State,” Sengin said. “Working with the Women’s Chorus has been one of the highlights of my teaching here. Since we reinstated the ensemble in spring 2019, I’ve worked to recruit and engage students from across the institution. I look forward to continuing to grow and expand this ensemble as we transition to our new name, Treble Choir.”
The Georgia State University Women’s Chorus is one of the newest choral ensembles at the university. The ensemble’s mission is to highlight the vast array of repertoire for treble voicing. In addition, the ensemble seeks to promote and feature compositions and poetry by women. Under Sengin’s direction, the Women’s Chorus performed at the Georgia Music Educators Association Conference in January 2020.
Nickitas Demos served as director of the Georgia State University School of Music from June 2017 to June 2021 and is coordinator of composition.
“It is a tremendous honor to have been awarded the 2021 American Prize in Composition-Chamber Music,” Demos said. “Many incredible artists annually submit to this prize, so to be selected is humbling. The prize was awarded for my chamber piece ‘Frontlash,’ commissioned by the New York City-based Unheard-of Ensemble and scored for clarinet, violin, cello and piano. I am very grateful to the Unheard-of Ensemble for championing this composition in concerts across the nation, including a performance at Carnegie Hall, as well as an excellent professional recording.”
Jennifer Sengin is the associate director of choral activities at Georgia State University. Sengin directs the Women’s Chorus and Choral Union, and teaches conducting, graduate choral literature and undergraduate choral methods. Sengin won this prize with the award-winning Georgia State University Women’s Chorus.
Robert Thompson, who retired this summer, served as professor of music composition and coordinator of music technology.
“I have won second prize in The American Prize on two separate occasions, in 2019 with the work ‘Mettā,’ composed for Georgia State’s Bent Frequency Duo Project, and now in 2021 for ‘Ninth Wave,’ for cello and electroacoustics,” Thompson said. “‘Ninth Wave’ was composed for longtime Georgia State music friend and collaborating performer Craig Hultgren. The American Prize has become established as an important opportunity for composers, conductors, ensemble directors and instrumentalists. Through rigorous peer review by a large expert panel, the prize acknowledges the very best of music-making across the nation. Since its inception, The American Prize has recognized numerous talented professionals, and I am honored.”
Listen to the Georgia State University Women’s Chorus perform “Hold Fast to Dreams” by Susan LaBarr at the Georgia Music Educators Association Conference in January 2020.