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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.

Peter Graham (2002)

2002: Peter Graham, Harrison's Dream

Peter Graham was born in 1958 in Lanarkshire, Scotland, and currently teaches composition at the University of Salford. He has previously served as Music Associate with the famous Black Dyke Band (1997–2004) and as composer-in-residence with Her Majesty's Coldstream Guards Band. Graham received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD in composition from University of London’s Goldsmiths College, where he studied with Edward Gregson.

Graham has worked regularly as an arranger for BBC Television and Radio and has specialized in composition for the British style brass band. He lived briefly in New York City where he served as a freelance composer, arranger, and publications editor with the S.A. Music Bureau.

Graham’s compositions have been recorded and performed by many of the world’s leading ensembles, including the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra and the Royal Norwegian Navy Band. His album of xylophone music commissioned for virtuoso Evelyn Glennie by BMG/RCA Red Label, was nominated as Best Classical Crossover Album at the 1999 Grammy Awards held in Los Angeles.

Harrison's Dream, commissioned by the United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C., won the 2002 ABA Ostwald Award for composition. The work is inspired by clockmaker John Harrison’s efforts to develop a life-saving nautical navigation instrument in the early 1700s. 

Recordings at SCPA

  • ABA Archives 2002, U.S. Air Force Concert Band, ABA 68th Annual Convention, 2002
  • ABA Archives, U.S. Air Force Concert Band, Signatures
  • Midwest 2003, Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, Live in Chicago, 4341
  • ABAD2982 CD, Brigham Young University Wind Symphony, [March 2, 2005]

John Mackey (2005, 2009)

2005: John Mackey, Redline Tango

2009: John Mackey, Aurora Awakes

John Mackey (b. 1973) holds degrees from the Juilliard School and the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with John Corigliano and Donald Erb, respectively. He has received commissions from the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Parsons Dance Company, the New York Youth Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, the Dallas Theater Center, New York City Ballet, the Dallas Wind Symphony, the American Bandmasters Association, and many universities, high schools, middle schools, and military bands. His trombone concerto, Harvest, composed for New York Philharmonic principal trombonist Joseph Alessi, has received dozens of performances worldwide and been commercially recorded three times. Mackey has served as composer-in-residence at the Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival, the Vail Valley Music Festival, and with youth orchestras in Minneapolis and Seattle.

Mackey won the ABA/Ostwald Prize in 2005 for Redline Tango, an arrangement for wind ensemble of a work originally commissioned by the Brooklyn Philharmonic. He received the Ostwald Award again in 2009 for Aurora Awakes, which also received the NBA/Revelli Prize. Mackey was inducted into the American Bandmasters Association in 2013.

Recordings at SCPA

Redline Tango

  • ABAR3233 CD (Michalski collection), Kansas University Wind Ensemble, Redline Tango
  • ABAR3354 CD, Dallas Wind Symphony, ABA 72nd Annual Convention, 2006
  • Midwest 2006, Dallas Wind Symphony, 6796-MCD

Aurora Awakes

  • ABAR3204 CD, Ithaca College Wind Ensemble, ABA 77th Annual Convention, 2011
  • Midwest 2009, San Jose Wind Symphony, 8552-MCD

Michael Daugherty (2007)

2007: Michael Daugherty, Raise the Roof

Born into a musical family in Iowa, Michael Daugherty (b. 1954) earned degrees in music composition from North Texas State University, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Jacob Druckman, Earle Brown, and Roger Reynolds. Since 1992, he has taught composition at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Daugherty has been a composer-in-residence with numerous orchestras, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, and has received commissions from dozens of ensembles in the United States and Europe. The League of American Orchestras reports that he is one of the ten most performed living American composers. Daugherty has received numerous awards, distinctions, and fellowships for his music, including the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award for his compositions Snap! and Blue Like an Orange, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, the Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and three Grammy awards.

Many of Daugherty’s compositions draw from jazz and popular music and are directly inspired by popular culture, including his Metropolis Symphony, Dead Elvis, and Jackie O. Raise the Roof, a concerto for timpani and concert band which won the ABA Ostwald Award in 2007, was commissioned and premiered by the University of Michigan Symphonic Band. The composer notes that the work was inspired by the construction of grand architectural wonders such as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the Empire State Building in New York City.

Recordings at SCPA

  • ABAR3364 CD, The United States Army Field Band, ABA 74th Annual Convention, 2008
  • ABAR3195 CD, Rutgers Wind Ensemble, Strange Humors
  • Midwest 2007, Marcus High School Wind Symphony, 7316-MCD

Yo Goto (2011)

2011: Yo Goto, Songs for Wind Ensemble

Yo Goto (b. 1958) is currently the executive director of the Japan Academic Society of Wind Music and a committee member of the Japan Band Clinic. He received his bachelor of music education degree from Yamagata University and a performance diploma from the Tokyo College of Music, where he studied composition with Shin-ichiro Ikebe. At the University of North Texas, he studied composition with Cindy McTee and earned his MM and MME degrees.

Goto has held clinics and guest-conducted at several international conferences, including the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) and the Midwest Clinic, and has won awards for conducting and composition including the Academy Award from the Academic Society of Japan for Winds and Band in 2000.

His Songs for Wind Ensemble, commissioned by the Hamamatsu Cultural Foundation in Japan, won the American Bandmasters Association Ostwald Award in 2011. This piece calls for 24 parts, each played by a single player, and features soloists performing melodies freely.

Recordings at SCPA

  • ABAR3252 CD, United States Army Field Band & Soldiers' Chorus, 78th Annual Convention, 2012

Michael Gandolfi (2012)

2012: Michael Gandolfi, Flourishes and Meditations on a Renaissance Theme

Michael James Gandolfi (b. 1956) is chair of the composition department at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he also earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Gandolfi studied with Leonard Bernstein and Oliver Knussen as a fellow in 1986 at the Tanglewood Music Center, where he is now the coordinator of the composition department. He has served on the faculty of Harvard University, Indiana University, and the Phillips Academy at Andover and was composer in residence with the New England Philharmonic.

Gandolfi’s works have been performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and many others.

Flourishes and Meditations on a Renaissance Theme, a work concert band that won the ABA Ostwald award in 2012, was commissioned by the “President’s Own” United States Marine Band. The piece contains seven variations on an anonymous Renaissance melody called Spagnoletta.

Recordings at SCPA

  • ABAR3208 CD, United States Marine Band, ABA 77th Annual Convention, 2011
  • ABAR3242 CD, U.S. Marine Band "The President's Own," Flourishes and Meditations

Aaron Perrine (2013)

2013: Aaron Perrine, Pale Blue on Deep

2015: Aaron Perrine, Only Light


Born in McGregor, Minnesota, in 1979, Aaron Perrine earned his bachelor's degree in trombone performance and music education with high distinction from the University of Minnesota at Morris and a master’s of music in composition from the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis, where he studied composition with Judith Zaimont and jazz arranging with Dean Sorenson. Perrine is currently pursuing his PhD in composition from the University of Iowa, studying with David Gompper and Lawrence Fritts.

Perrine has received many awards as a student and professional, including the Edna Murphy Morrison Award, Daisy Hansen Award, Chancellor's Award, and multiple awards in composition from the Minnesota Music Educators Association while he was studying at the University of Minnesota at Morris. Primal for saxophone quartet  was performed at the 2014 NASA Biennial Conference in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois and the 2012 World Saxophone Congress XVI in St. Andrews, Scotland. His works for concert band include Temperance which won the 2017 CBDNA Young Band Composition Contest. The composer describes Pale Blue on Deep, which won the 2013 American Bandmasters Association Ostwald Award, as a reflection of the “power and serene beauty” of Lake Superior. Only Light, won the 2015 Ostwald Award; it was inspired by a family friend's battle with cancer and the search for hope amidst fear.

Recordings at SCPA

Pale Blue on Deep

  • ABAR3204 CD, Ithaca College Wind Ensemble, ABA 77th Annual Convention, 2011

Only Light

  • ABAR3914 CD, The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, 82nd Annual ABA Convention, 2016

Steven Bryant (2014)

2014: Steven Bryant, Concerto for Alto Saxophone

Steven Bryant (b. 1972) is a composer and conductor of works for wind ensemble, orchestra, electronics, and chamber music. He has studied composition with John Corigliano at the Juilliard School, Cindy McTee at the University of North Texas, and Francis McBeth at Ouachita University.

Bryant has received commissions from the Juilliard Orchestra, the Indiana University Wind Ensemble, the US Air Force Band of Mid-America, the Calgary Stampede Band, and other ensembles. The National Band Association has awarded Bryant the William D. Revelli Award for three compositions: Radiant Joy, Suite Dreams, and Ecstatic Waters.

Commissioned by Howard J. Gourwitz as a gift to saxophonist Joseph Lulloff and the Michigan State University Wind Symphony, Bryant’s Concerto for Alto Saxophone won the 2014 Sousa/Ostwald Award. The three movements of the work are based on a single motive derived from the opening notes of Paul Creston's Sonata for Alto Saxophone. Bryant has written that he “strove to create a work that explores and celebrates the idiomatic characteristics of the saxophone.”

Paul Dooley (2016)

2016: Paul Dooley, Masks and Machines

Paul Dooley (b. 1983) draws from a wide range of genres and traditions for his compositions, including dance music, world music, and contemporary Western Classical music. During his undergraduate years at the University of Southern California he studied with Frank Ticheli and Stephen Hartke at the University of Southern California. While at the University of Michigan for a master and doctorate degree, he studied with Michael Daugherty, Bright Sheng, and Evan Chambers

In addition to the Ostwald Award, Masks and Machines also won the William D. Revelli award from the National Band Association in 2015. Other awards have included the Jacob Druckman for Orchestral Composition from the Aspen Music Festival (2013) for Point Blank, a young composer award from BMI for Dani's Dance (2007), and a young composer award from ASCAP for Gradus (2009). 

Masks and Machines (2015) was commissioned in honor of Gary Green's retirement from the Frost School of Music, University of Miami. The composer cites Bauhaus artist Oskar Schlemmer and Neoclassical composer Igor Stravinsky as inspirations. "I admire the simplicity of shapes and colors in Schlemmer's works such as Bauhaus Stairway and Triadic Ballet as well as the renaissance and baroque musical influences in Stravinsky's Pulcinella.  

Recordings at SCPA

  • ABAR3914 CD, The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, 82nd Annual ABA Convention, 2016

Christopher Lowry (2017)

2017: Christopher Lowry, A Cypress Prelude

Christopher Lowry (b. 1989) is an acclaimed violist and composer. In addition to the Sousa-Ostwald Award, he has won several prizes for his original works including the Dallas Winds Fanfare Contest, the American Prize in Composition, World Projects Composition Competition, Missouri Composers Orchestra Project Composition Competition, Salford International Composers Contest, NAfME Composition Competition, Frank Van Der Stucken Composition Award, Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra Composition Competition, Anton Stadler International Basset Clrinet Composition Competition. He has also been recognized for his viola performance, winning the "Jury Panel Prize" (2016) and the "President of the Jury Prize" (2013) in the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition and Grand Prize in the Lewisville Lake Symphony International String Competition (2015).

Lowry's music has been recorded and performed by ensembles throughout the U.S. and abroad. He is currently principal violist in the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and Louisiana Sinfonietta. He is guest violist for the Carlos Chávez String Quartet in Mexico City and a founding member of the Ars Nova String Quartet.

A Cypress Prelude is named for the southern cypress tree, which grows in the swamplands of the Southeastern U.S. The composer points to a short generative motive that “germinates organically” throughout the piece. The piece has been arranged for both wind band and symphony orchestra and has been performed widely.

James Stephenson (2018)

2018: James Stephenson, Symphony No. 2 "Voices"

James Stephenson (b. 1969) began his career in music as a trumpet performer, working for 17 seasons with the Naples Philharmonic in Florida. More recently he has been working as a composer, conductor, and arranger. His best-known works includes the young-audience work Compose Yourself! (2002), which has been performed in New Zealand, Canada, and throughout the U.S. He is a specialist in concerti. In 2019 the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed his bass trombone concerto. That performance followed commissions by the Minnesota Commissioning Club for two violin concertos which were premiered by Jennifer Frautschi and the Minnesota Orchestra in 2012, and commissions from saxophonist Branford Marsalis and trumpeter Rex Richardson. 

Symphony No. 2, "Voices", won both the National Band Associations' Revelli Award in 2017 and the ABA's Sousa-Ostwald Award in 2018. It was commissioned by the United States Marine Band, which premiered the work in 2016 at the Midwest Clinic. The piece is a meditation on the variety and power of the human voice. It was inspired by the sound anonymous laughter the composer heard in an airport. For that reason, an amplified mezzo-soprano is featured in every movement alongside the wind instruments. 

Recordings at SCPA

  • Midwest Clinic, "The President's Own" United States Marine Band

David Biedenbender (2019)

2019: David Biedenbender, Unquiet Hours

David Biedenbender (b. 1984) is a composer, conductor, and performer. He has written music for a wide range of venues from the concert hall and the dance floor, and he seeks out collaborations with all types of musicians and artists. His background as a euphonium, bass trombone, and tuba player has allowed him to draw from a wide range of influences including rock, jazz, brass bands, and Indian Carnatic Music. Recent commissions and collaborations include those from Alarm Will Sound, the PRISM Saxophone Quartet, the Stenhammar String Quartet, The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Aspen Music Festival Contemporary Ensemble, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the Music from Copland House Ensemble, and the U.S. Navy Band.

Biedenbender teaches at the College of Music at Michigan State University where he is able to mentor a younger generation of composition students. He received his doctorate from the University of Michigan. He cites Michael Daugherty, Evan Chambers, Bright Sheng, Kristin Kuster, Stephen Rush, Christopher Lees, David R. Gillingham, José Luis-Maurtúa, John Williamson, and Mark Cox.

The title of Unquiet Hours comes from the opening lines of George William Russell's poem The Hour of Twilight. It depicts those moments when emotional turmoil make the brain noisy with distress, and about the search for and finding of peace amidst that chaos. The piece centers around a relentless theme that twists and turns in various forms throughout its length, until it returns to a stasis in the closing measures.

Recordings at SCPA

  • Midwest Clinic CD, Riverwatch Middle School Symphonic Band