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Home > About > Media Releases > Darren James Russo wins John Weinzweig Grand Prize

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Darren James Russo wins SOCAN Foundation's John Weinzweig Grand Prize

August 5, 2015

The SOCAN Foundation today announced 15 recipients of the 24th Annual SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers

This year’s competition attracted 187 entries, awarding $29,250 to the prizewinners. “The jury chose to award the grand prize this year to Montreal-based composer Darren James Russo, for his ambitious 72-minute opera Storybook,” said Rick MacMillan, Manager, SOCAN Foundation.

The Annual SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers recognize Canadian composers 30 years of age and under for specific musical works in five categories of concert music. The submissions were judged anonymously by a jury of three prominent composers with decades of experience teaching composition in the university milieu: Dr. Keith Hamel of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Dr. Eric Morin of l’Université Laval in Quebec City, and Dr. John Burge of Queen’s University in Kingston, ON, a SOCAN Foundation Board member.

Keith Hamel calls Russo's Grand Prize-winner
“an exquisite, sophisticated work, showing superb control and pacing at every turn.”

“I feel it has pretty much everything in it,” says Eric Morin of Russo’s Storybook. “Looking at it from any perspective, it is full of imagination and inventiveness, both pleasing and fulfilling.” Keith Hamel calls it “an exquisite, sophisticated work, showing superb control and pacing at every turn.”

The John Weinzweig Grand Prize celebrates the best overall work submitted in the competition, and is valued at $3,000. Russo’s work was also recognized with the $3,000 first prize in the competition’s Godfrey Ridout Awards.

Other major winners include Matthew Ricketts, who took the $3,000 first prize in the Sir Ernest MacMillan Awards category for Flat Line, the $1,500 second prize in the Serge Garant Awards category for In Partial View, and a three-way shared third prize ($750 to each co-winner) in the Godfrey Ridout Awards for Women Well Met; Philippe Macnab-Séguin, who took the $3,000 first prize in the Serge Garant Awards category for his Percussion Sextet, and the $750 third prize in the Hugh Le Caine Awards category for Through the Cracks; Christopher Goddard, who shared second prize ($1,500 to each co-winner) in the Pierre Mercure Awards category for And Chase, and took the $750 third prize in the Sir Ernest MacMillan Awards category for Janus Turns; and Michael Lukaszuk, who took the $3,000 first prize in the Hugh Le Caine Awards for Ritus.

Other award winners include: Isaac Hunter Coblentz (second prize) in the Sir Ernest MacMillan Awards; Stephen Spencer and Patrick Giguère (shared third prizes) in the Serge Garant Awards; Roydon Tse (shared second prize with Christopher Goddard), and Jared Miller and Brian Lee Topp (shared third prizes) in the Pierre Mercure Awards; Lucas Mitchell Oickle and Iman Habibi (shared third prizes with Matthew Ricketts) in the Godfrey Ridout Awards; and Alexis Langevin-Tétrault (second prize) in the Hugh Le Caine Awards.

About the SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers

The SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers is open to Canadian citizens 30 years of age and under.

About SOCAN Foundation

Founded in 1992, SOCAN Foundation is dedicated to fostering musical creativity and promoting a better understanding of the role of music creators in today’s society. The Foundation is an independent organization guided by its own board of directors. The board, which consists of composers, songwriters and music publishers, reflects concert music and popular music genres as well as the geographic and linguistic regions of Canada. It is closely aligned to the interests of the members of SOCAN – the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada.

Media Contact: Rick MacMillan, 416-445-8700, ext. 3815, macmillanr@socan.ca

2015 SOCAN FOUNDATION AWARDS FOR YOUNG COMPOSERS RECIPIENT LIST

The John Weinzweig Grand Prize
Grand Prize awarded for the best overall work submitted in the competition

$3,000 – Darren James Russo, 30, Montreal, QC – Storybook, an opera in two acts for five singers and 11 performers (libretto by the composer, with texts by William Blake, Lauren J. Rogener and Anusree Roy)

Darren Russo recently completed his Master of Music degree at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music, under the supervision of Denys Bouliane. He undertook his Bachelor’s degree in music composition at the same institution, studying under Chris Paul Harman and Jean Lesage. He has served as composer-in-residence for McGill’s Contemporary Music Ensemble and the McGill University Chorus (Tick Tock). He won first prize in the SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers, Godfrey Ridout category, in 2011. Also in 2011, at the invitation of Toronto’s Tapestry Opera, he participated in that company’s Composer/Librettist Laboratory, working closely with director Wayne Strongman and Michael Albano of the University of Toronto in an intensive workshop geared towards meeting the challenges of writing music for the stage. That led to the development of his opera Storybook, commissioned by Opera Five in Toronto, which was premiered in January 2015.

The Sir Ernest MacMillan Awards
For compositions for no fewer than thirteen performers up to a full symphony orchestra, which may include vocal participation and may be scored to include electroacoustics

First Prize: $3,000 – Matthew Ricketts, 29, New York, NY – Flat Line, for chamber ensemble of 15 players 

Matthew Ricketts hails originally from Victoria, BC. He studied theory and composition at McGill University with Brian Cherney, Chris Paul Harman and John Rea, and is currently pursuing a DMA at Columbia University in New York City with George Lewis and Fred Lerdahl. His music has been featured on festivals and concerts in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Nebraska, New York, Austin, Paris and Boston, where his Double Concerto shared for first prize at the ALEA III International Composition Competition in 2007. Other major awards include four prizes in the SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers since 2010 and an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award in 2013. He recently participated in the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne’s 2014 International FORUM, where his work Flat Line shared the International Jury’s 2nd Prize.

Second Prize: $1,500 – Isaac Hunter Coblentz, 27, London, UK – Tempus Edax Rerum, for large ensemble

Hunter Coblentz is a Canadian composer pursuing a postgraduate degree at The Royal College of Music in London, England, under the instruction of Kenneth Hesketh. His music education began in Toronto at The Royal Conservatory of Music as a cellist. In 2011 he completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Toronto while concurrently studying composition with Roger Bergs and Jack Behrens. He has furthered his training in France, having studied orchestration and composition with Michel Merlet and Philip Lasser. His works have been performed in both Europe and North America by ensembles such as the John Laing Singers and the Central Michigan University New Music Ensemble, and by soloists such as Rachel Mercer and members of the Penderecki String Quartet. Recent performances include the premiere of his chamber opera Hogarth’s Bastards in the Britten Theatre in England, and a large ensemble piece that had its premiere by the Royal College of Music’s New Perspectives Ensemble. He was shortlisted for Britten Sinfonia’s Opus2015 Project.

Third Prize: $750 – Christopher Goddard, 28, Montreal, QC – Janus Turns, for chamber orchestra

Christopher Goddard is a composer and pianist currently based in Montreal. He was selected to participate in the 2014 Wellesley Composers Conference, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne’s 2012 International Forum for Composers, and the 2011 National Arts Centre Young Composers Program in Ottawa, and has received two prizes in the SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers. As a performer and advocate of contemporary music, he recently completed the contemporary performance program at the Manhattan School of Music, where he played with Tactus ensemble and studied under Christopher Oldfather and Anthony de Mare. Recent performances took place with Columbia Composers, the Wet Ink Ensemble, Ensemble Moto Perpetuo, Ottawa New Music Creators and the Lucerne Festival Academy. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate in composition with John Rea at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music. 

The Serge Garant Awards
For instrumental compositions for a minimum of three performers to a maximum of twelve, with or without voices and/or electroacoustics

First Prize: $3,000 – Philippe Macnab-Séguin, 22, Montreal, QC – Percussion Sextet

Philippe Macnab-Séguin is currently completing his B.Mus in composition at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music with Denys Bouliane. He began playing guitar and taking lessons at the age of 7, and quickly became emerged in the worlds of pop, punk, ska, and metal music by the time he was 13. At 16 he began listening to classical music and jazz, incorporating elements from these and many more styles into his music. At the end of his first year of jazz guitar studies at Montreal’s Vanier College in 2011, he began taking composition lessons at the McGill Conservatory with Félix Baril. A 12-minute work title Ubiquity went on to win a BMI student composer award in 2012. Since then, he was won many awards and scholarships, including The Robert Jones Award for Music Composition 2012, the Andrew Svoboda Award for Music Composition both in 2013 and 2014, two McGill ensemble residencies in 2013 and 2014, a Schulich School of Music Scholarship in 2014, and the Maurice Pollack Foundation Scholarship in 2014.

Second Prize: $1,500 – Matthew Ricketts, 29, New York, NY – In Partial View, for string quartet

Bio listed under The Sir Ernest MacMillan Awards

Third Prize (shared): $750 – Stephen Spencer, 24, Montreal, QC – ALLOYS, for seven players

Stephen Spencer is a composer from Ottawa. His music has been performed in Canada and Italy, and he has received two SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers for his music. He is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in composition at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music under the supervision of Brian Cherney.

Third Prize (shared): $750 – Patrick Giguère, 28, L’Ange-Gardien, QC – Le sel de la terre, for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and vibraphone

Patrick Giguère is a composer who lives, writes and studies in Birmingham (UK). His works are frequently performed throughout Canada, the US and the UK. He has enjoyed collaborations with such outstanding performers as the EXAUDI Vocal Ensemble, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Ensemble Paramirabo, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the Aventa Ensemble, the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen Orchestra and Orchestre de la francophonie. He is looking forward to a partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra as part of the 2015-16 Panufnik Composers Scheme. He received a Master’s degree in composition from Laval University and is now working on a Doctorate at the Birmingham Conservatory. His teachers have included composers Howard Skempton, Éric Morin, Richard Ayres and Andrew Toovey, and he has worked with Michael Finnissy, Michel Gonneville, Sydney Hodkinson, Gary Kulesha, John Rea and Ana Sokolovic, to name only a few, as part of a various internships and workshops.

The Pierre Mercure Awards
For solo or duet compositions, with or without voices and/or electroacoustics

First Prize: Not awarded

Second Prize (shared): $1,500 – Roydon Tse, 24, Edmonton, AB – Memories, for harp and marimba

Roydon Tse was born in Hong Kong and studied music in Hong Kong and England, currently holding a composition degree from the University of British Columbia. He is completing his M.Mus. in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music. He has studied with Christos Hatzis, Dorothy Chang, Stephen Chatman, Gary Kulesha and John Estacio. His music has been presented internationally by a host of ensembles and soloists, including the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra; the Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Victoria and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestras; Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, Canadian Brass, Bozzini Quartet and Land’s End Chamber Ensemble. In May 2015, he traveled to Hong Kong to work with distinguished composer Bright Sheng and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra in the Asian Premiere of Sinfonia Concertante. He is a recipient of several awards, recently winning the grand prize of the Etobicoke Philharmonic Young Composers Competition, MusCan 2015 Student Composition Competition and the CMC Prairies Emerging Composers Prize.

Second Prize (shared): $1,500 – Christopher Goddard, 28, Montreal, QC – And Chase, for violin and viola

Bio listed under The Sir Ernest MacMillan Awards

Third Prize (shared): $750 – Jared Miller, 26, New York, NY – Retour aux sources: Grand Pré, for solo piano

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Vancouver, Jared Miller is currently a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow at the Juilliard School in New York City, where he studies with John Corigliano and Samuel Adler. He has worked in collaboration with many ensembles, both in North America and internationally, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, Latitude 49 Ensemble, the New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute and a long list of soloists. His orchestral work 2010 Traffic Jam was commissioned by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for the 2010 Olympics and has since been performed more than two dozen times. His orchestral work Contrasted Perspectives was selected from over 400 scores to be publicly workshopped in June 2014 by the acclaimed American Composers Orchestra in New York as a part of the New York Philharmonic’s Biennial celebration. He has won numerous awards for composition, including a 2012 ASCAP Morton Gould Award, the 2011-12 Juilliard Orchestra Competition and the 2011 SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers.

Third Prize (shared): $750 – Brian Lee Topp, 25, Vancouver, BC – Insomnia, for flute, tape and live electronics

Brian Lee Topp has worked with the Microcosmos String Quartet, the Victoria Symphony, Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, the University of Western Ontario Wind Ensemble and the University of British Columbia Contemporary Players, as well as a diverse array of solo performers. He is currently composer in residence for the 2015 Bathurst Chamber Music Festival in Bathurst, NB, and a member of the board of directors of Vancouver Pro Musica. He completed a B. Mus. in theory and composition at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS, with Derek Charke, and a M. Mus. in composition at the University of Western Ontario with Paul Frehner and David Myska. Currently he is pursuing doctoral studies at the University of British Columbia under the guidance of Keith Hamel.

The Godfrey Ridout Awards
For works of any number of voices with or without instrumentation and/or electroacoustics

First Prize: $3,000 – Darren James Russo, 30, Montreal, QC – Storybook, an opera in two acts for five singers and 11 performers

Bio listed under The John Weinzweig Grand Prize

Second Prize: Not awarded

Third Prize (shared among three winners): $750 – Lucas Mitchell Oickle, 24, Vancouver, BC – Three Songs on Poems by Vancouver Downtown Eastside Poets, for soprano, tenor and baritone, with piano (poetry by Ruth Dato, Henry Doyle and Joan Morelli)

Lucas Oickle (B.Mus. Acadia University, 2013, M.Mus. University of British Columbia, 2015) is a Nova Scotian composer currently based in Vancouver. He is the 2015 Goodwill Ambassador of the Nova Scotia Talent Trust and is on the board of directors for Vancouver Pro Musica. His music has been read and workshopped by prestigious groups like the Band of the Ceremonial Guard of the Canadian Forces, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He is currently a composer-in-residence for the Bathurst Chamber Music Festival in New Brunswick.

Third Prize (shared among three winners): $750 – Iman Habibi, 29, Ann Arbor, MI – The Rose of Midnight, for mixed choir (poetry by Vachel Lindsay)

Iman Habibi (M. Mus University of British Columbia, 2010, B.Mus. University of British Columbia, 2008) is an award-winning composer and pianist. He is currently composer-in-residence with the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra and a member of the piano duo ensemble Piano Pinnacle. He is studying towards his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree at the University of Michigan, where he is working with Bright Sheng. His works have been performed by a number of noted ensembles and performers, including The Standing Wave Ensemble, Vancouver Bach Choir, Prince George Symphony Orchestra, tenor Keith Klassen, baritone Peter McGillivray, soprano Carla Huhtanen and mezzo-soprano Kimberly Barber. He won first prizes in the SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Audio-Visual Composers in 2011 and 2012, and received second prize at the 2008 Vancouver Bach Choir’s national Competition for Large Choir Works.

Third Prize (shared among three winners): $750 – Matthew Ricketts, 29, New York, NY – Women Well Met, for vocal sextet (poetry by Lauren J. Rogener)

Bio listed under The Sir Ernest MacMillan Awards

The Hugh Le Caine Awards
For live or recorded electroacoustics, where the intended performance is, at least in part, through loudspeakers. Works in this category may be multi-media and may include acoustic instruments or voices, live or pre-recorded. The principal element in the work must be electroacoustic.

First Prize: $3,000 – Michael Lukaszuk, 25, Kingston, ON – Ritus, electroacoustic music

Michael Lukaszuk is a composer, laptop performer and programmer based in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is currently pursuing a DMA in Composition at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music where he is in Mara Helmuth’s studio. He holds degrees in music theory and composition from the University of Western Ontario. His music has been performed at events such as the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, New Music Edmonton’s Now Hear This Festival of New Music, and the Midwest Composers Symposium. He regularly performs composed and improvised electroacoustic music with the Cincinnati Composers Laptop Orchestra Project CiCLOP and as a soloist.

Second Prize: $1,500 – Alexis Langevin-Tétrault, 30, Montreal, QC – Défibrillation, electroacoustic music

As a composer, multi-instrumentalist and stage artist, Alexis Langevin-Tétrault has contributed to a variety of experimental music projects under the guises of Alexeï Kawolski, QUADr, BetaFeed, Recepteurz and Destaël while also scoring short films and composing stage play music. He is now enrolled in the University of Montreal’s electroacoustic music program, where he is studying with Martin Bédard, Robert Normandeau and Nicolas Bernier. His work was recognized by Fondation Destellos in 2014.

Third Prize: $750 – Philippe Macnab-Séguin, 22, Montreal, QC – Through the Cracks, for electric guitar and live electronics

Bio listed under The Serge Garant Awards

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