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ABA Sousa/Ostwald Award

A history of the American Bandmasters Association's annual Sousa/Ostwald Award for best new composition for symphonic band.

Roger Nixon (1973)

1973: Roger Nixon, Festival Fanfare-March

Roger Nixon (1921–2009) was an American composer, musician, and professor of music. He was Professor Emeritus of music at San Francisco State University and a member of the American Bandmasters Association.

A native of California, Nixon attended Modesto Junior College, where studied clarinet with Frank Mancini, formerly of John Philip Sousa's band. He received a bachelor of arts, master of arts, and doctorate of philosophy in composition from the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied primarily with Roger Sessions as well as Arthur Bliss, Ernest Bloch, Charles Cushing, Frederick Jacobi, and Arnold Schoenberg.

Nixon served as faculty at Modesto Junior College from 1951 to 1959, and at San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University) from 1960 until his death in 2009.

Nixon has been honored by the Texas Bandmasters Association as a Heritage American Composer. He has also received several awards for composition, including a Phelan Award, the Neil A. Kjos Memorial Award, five grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the 1973 ABA Ostwald Award for his composition Festival Fanfare-March

Selected recordings at SCPA

  • ABA 1997 CD, United States Air Force Band of the West, Heritage V: Music of Roger Nixon
  • ABAR2016 LP, ABA-73-5D, US Air Force Band, 39th Annual ABA Convention, 1973
  • ABAR3348 CD, United States Army Field Band and Soldiers' Chorus, 71st Annual Convention, 2005

James S. Sclater (1974)

1974: James Sclater, Visions

James S. Sclater (b. 1943) is a retired professor of music from Mississippi College, where he taught advanced music theory, counterpoint, orchestration, ear training, choral arranging, and band arranging for forty years. He attended the University of Texas at Austin where he received a doctorate of musical arts in composition. He continued his post-graduate studies in theory and composition at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Sclater has been awarded the prize for music composition from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters on six different occasions and has won numerous other awards. He has previously served as a clarinetist in the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, music librarian in the Austin Public Library, and has been a member of professional associations such as the International Clarinet Association, the Jackson Wind Symphony, and the Mississippi Music Teachers Association. Sclater won the 1974 Ostwald Award for his composition Visions.

Recordings at SCPA

  • ABA Cassette, 1974 Ostwald Competition
  • Midwest no. 6, 1980 [CD transfer], Meridian High School Symphonic Band

Robert M. Panerio, Sr. (1975)

1975: Robert Panerio Sr., Jubiloso

A native of Washington state, Robert Panerio Sr. (b. 1929) is a retired professor of music from Central Washington University, where he received the Distinguished Professor Award for Creativity in 1982. Previously, Panerio was supervisor of instrumental music at Moses Lake, Washington, and Dean of Arts and Humanities at Big Bend College, where he worked until 1963. During his time at Central Washington University, Panerio was also a visiting professor at Eastern Oregon State College.

Panerio received B.A. and M.A. degrees from Central Washington University and later pursued doctoral studies at the Eastman School of Music. For many years, Panerio was a professional trumpeter playing symphonic, show, and jazz music.

As a composer, Panerio has written many works for band and orchestra, including Jubiloso for concert band, which won the 1975 Ostwald Award.

Recordings at SCPA

  • ABAR3561 LP, York Suburban Knights Senior High School Band
  • Midwest LP no. 9, 1975, Westlake High School Band

Loretta Jankowski (1976)

1976: Loretta Jankowski, Todesband

Loretta Jankowski (b. 1950) studied composition and theory in the preparatory division of the Juilliard School of Music in the early 1960s. She holds a master’s of music in composition from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in composition from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Composers with whom Jankowski has studied include Harrison Birtwistle, Morton Feldman, Marek Stachowski, Joseph Schwantner, and Samuel Adler.

Jankowski has taught on the faculties of Northern Illinois University at Dekalb, California State University at Long Beach, Ball State University, Kean University, and East Carolina University. She has also served as composer-in-residence at Bennington College in Vermont.

Jankowski has written prize-winning music for orchestra, voice, and concert band and more than 30 principal works. Her music has been performed in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, Holy Trinity Chapel at New York University, Yale University, and the Fifth International Festival of Experimental Music in Bourges, France. She has also received a lifetime achievement award from the Piano Teachers Society of America.

Jankowski won the 1976 Ostwald Award for Todesband, a work for large wind ensemble. The piece, based on a Bach chorale, gradually works from dissonance and ascends to joyful harmonizations.


A scan of the score for Todesband is available through UMD Digital Collections:

Recordings at SCPA

  • ABAR2014 LP, U.S. Armed Forces Bicentennial Band, ABA Bicentennial Convention, 1976

William H. Hill (1977)

1977: William H. Hill, Danses Sacred and Profane

William H. Hill (1930–2000) graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a bachelor of arts degree in 1952 and a master of arts degree in 1955. After graduating, he worked as a woodwind instructor and director of bands at East Texas State University before beginning a Ph.D. program at UCLA, where he taught saxophone and arranging techniques. From 1972 to 1982, Hill was band director and chairman of the instrumental music program at California State University. While teaching, he also conducted and led band clinics throughout the world.

Hill was first runner-up in the 1976 Ostwald Competition for his piece Sonitus Revelationis. The following year, Hill won the Ostwald Award for Danses Sacred and Profane, which was performed by the U.S. Marine Band at the 1977 ABA Convention. 

Selected recordings at SCPA

  • ABAR3358 LP (Hill subcollection), California State University Los Angeles Wind Ensemble In Concert
  • ABA CD, TOCZ-0013, 1992, University of Maryland Symphonic Wind Ensemble, American Sounds 4 - Russians East Europe +2
  • ABAR3357 LP (Hill), California State University Los Angeles Wind Ensemble, The Compositions of William H Hill

See also the William H. Hill collection at SCPA 

James Barnes (1978, 1981)

1978: James Barnes, Symphony, op. 35

1981: James Barnes, Visions Macabres

From 1977 till his retirement in 2015, James Charles Barnes (b. 1949) was a professor of theory and composition at the University of Kansas, where he taught orchestration and composition. He received a bachelor of music degree in composition and music theory from the University of Kansas in 1974, and master of music from the same institution in 1975. He studied conducting privately with Zuohuang Chen.

His compositions have been performed widely in America, Europe, Japan, Taiwan, and Australia and recorded by the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra. Barnes is also a tubist and has performed with numerous professional organizations in the United States.

He is a two-time winner of the ABA Ostwald Award for contemporary wind band music. He won his first award in 1978 for his Symphony, op. 35, written for his master of music degree.

The Ostwald Prize was given to him in 1981 for Visions Macabres, a symphonic impression of the Hieronymus Bosch painting The Garden of Earthly Delights. Barnes conducted the University of Kansas Symphonic Band in the premiere of the piece.

Recordings at SCPA

Symphony, op. 35

  • ABAR2020 LP, ABA-78-5B, Northwestern University Band, 44th Annual ABA Convention, 1978

Visions Macabres

  • ABAR2035 LP, D-81-ABA-5D, United States Interservice Band, 47th Annual ABA Convention, 1981

James Curnow (1980)

1980: James Curnow, Mutanza

James Curnow (b. 1943 in Port Huron, Michigan) currently lives in Nicholasville, Kentucky, where he is Composer-in-Residence (Emeritus) at Asbury University. He is also president, composer, and educational consultant for Curnow Music Press, Inc., and editor of all music publications for the Salvation Army in Atlanta.

Curnow received his bachelor’s from Wayne State University and his master’s from Michigan State University, where he was a euphonium student of Leonard Falcone and a conducting student of Dr. Harry Begian. His studies in composition and arranging were with F. Maxwell Wood, James Gibb, Jere Hutchinson, and Irwin Fischer.

Curnow has taught in all areas of instrumental music, both in the public schools (five years) and at the college and university level (26 years). He has won several awards for band compositions, including the ASBDA/Volkwein Composition Award in 1977 (Symphonic Triptych) and 1979 (Collage for Band), the ABA Ostwald Award in 1980 (Mutanza) and 1984 (Symphonic Variants for Euphonium and Band), the 1985 Sixth International Competition of Original Compositions for Band (Australian Variants Suite), the 1994 Coup de Vents Composition Competition of Le Havre, France (Lochinvar), and many annual ASCAP awards.

Curnow won the ABA Ostwald Award in 1980 for Mutanza, a set of symphonic variations for band. He won the award again in 1984 for his Symphonic Variants for Euphonium and Band.

Recordings at SCPA

  • ABAR2030-1 LP, ABA-80-9D, Arizona State Symphonic Band, Second ABA-JBA Joint Convention, 1980
  • MENC 466 LP, CBDNA-83-11, Western Michigan University Symphonic Band, 1983 College Band Directors National Association