Winners announced for the 2016-2017 competition
The Esoterics is pleased to announce the winners of its 2016-2017 POLYPHONOS choral composition competition. A panel of four judges reviewed each and every anonymously submitted score to settle upon the winners of three separate awards: one national (U.S.) composer, one international composer, and one young composer under the age of 30. Each awardee will receive a US$1,000 commission for a 5-minute new work that The Esoterics will premiere at the POLYPHONOS Concert in October of 2017. The winners will also receive funds for travel and lodging to the premiere of their work next year. The Esoterics extends its sincerest thanks to all who applied to this competition. Once again, the judges’ decision was a difficult one. We hope that those of you who were not selected will enter again next year.
Congratulations to this year’s winners!
Vahram Sargsyan, Montréal, Québec (International Composer)
Vahram Sarkissian (Sargsyan) is a composer, conductor and experimental vocalist based in Montreal, Canada. His chamber, choral and vocal works have been widely performed in Europe, Asia and North America. His style represents a palette of multicultural creative initiatives influenced by numerous traditions and practices spanning from V century Armenian medieval chant to previously unreported endogenous vocal extended techniques. As an experimental vocalist he developed a distinct vocal identity with a rich assortment of techniques, a vocal range of 7 octaves and several signature sound production methods. Vahram was born in Yerevan in 1981. After completing the Music Theory Faculty of the Yerevan P. Tchaikovsky Musical College, he began to study composition with Ashot Zohrabyan at the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory (1998-2003), where he also studied conducting with Tigran Hekekyan (2000-06). He also studied music composition at the Schulich School of Music (McGill University) with French composer Philippe Leroux. Sarkissian is an author of more than 40 original compositions and arrangements that have been performed in Armenia, UK, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, Latvia, Belgium, Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Greece, Poland, Italy, Canada, as well as in the USA. His composition ‘Luys Zvart’ was performed around 60 times worldwide, including once at the 6th World Symposium on Choral Music (Minneapolis, Minnesota 2002). His arrangement of a V century Armenian chant ‘Khorurd Metz’ (Great Mystery) is included in the Oxford University Press anthology “World Carols for Choirs” (2005) and has been recorded by BBC Singers. It has been broadcast by BBC Radio 3. In 2012 Sarkissian conducted his own composition ‘Hunting the Hunter’ for 7 instruments at Carnegie Hall. Vahram Sarkissian has had commissions from Oxford University Press (UK), Boston Choral Ensemble (USA), Norddeutscher Rundfunk (Germany), Lark Musical Society (USA) and others. Among the performers of his music are BBC Singers, Little Singers of Armenia, Alan Hovhaness Chamber Orchestra, Armenian State Chamber Choir, Boston Choral Ensemble, Vocal Ensemble EST, Speghani Choir, Ensemble Transmission, St. Geghard Monastery Choir, CME and many others. His honors include the third prize in the Godfrey Ridout Awards from the Socan Foundation (Canada 2012, for Tribulationes); the winner award in the Third BCE Commission Competition (Boston, USA 2010 for Tribulationes), 1st prize in the International Contest for New Choral Compositions in Petrinja, Croatia (2009, for Anegh Bnutiun); an award from the World Armenian Congress “For creative achievements” (2009, for Mythis) and a co-winner award at the European Seminar for Young Composers (Aosta, Italy 2008, for Laudate Dominum). Vahram Sarkissian is a member of Union of Composers and Musicologists of Armenia as well as of Canadian League of Composers. He served as a music consultant for the European Choral Association (2010-2012). He was the founder and conductor of Armenian Chamber Voices: a 16-member mixed vocal ensemble noticeably consisting of young composers and musicologists, which was advocating music of XX century in Armenia.
Daniel Sabzghabaei, Baltimore, Maryland (National Composer)
Daniel Sabzghabaei is an internationally performed and award-winning composer whose works have been presented by professional and amateur ensembles alike, including: Dallas’ premier new music ensemble Voices of Change, Ukraine’s Kharkov Academic Youth Orchestra, Korea’s Ansan City Choir, Minneapolis’ Magpies & Ravens, and Pittsburgh-based OvreArts to name a few. Daniel’s work aims to emphasize the malleability of time and how we experience it, not just in the concert hall but in everyday life as well. As of late, he has been increasingly interested in his Persian heritage, seriously studying and taking inspiration from Persian melodic and rhythmic systems, Persian folk music, and Persian art and poetry. Daniel is a serious and devoted collaborator in multidisciplinary works, recently working with playwright Dr. Andrew Harris on his new play The Lady Revealed which premiered April 2013, was given two workshop performances in Dallas at Theatre Three, was read in London at the Tristan Bates Theater by members of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and was given a workshop performance in NYC in March 2015 at the New Dramatists.This led to another collaboration with Harris, resulting in a new score for the beloved play Doubt: A Parable under the direction of Harris. Outside of the stage, Daniel has also scored video games, successfully working with SMU’s prestigious Guildhall program to collaborate with teams on new projects. As a performer, Daniel has been singing since he was a young boy and regularly performs as a choral and solo vocalist, working in various churches across DFW and recently Baltimore. While at UNT, he was a member of the the UNT Grand Chorus who, along with the UNT Symphony Orchestra, premiered Jake Heggie’s new piece Ahab’s Symphony for choir and orchestra in 2013. Daniel is also a new music advocate, having premiered multiple new works by students and professional composers while at UNT, including the North American premier of Czech composer Ivo Medek’s opera The Cage Affair, in which he played the role of John Cage. Daniel graduated summa cum laude with a BM in Composition as a Distinguished Honors Scholar from the University of North Texas in 2014. His teachers have included Panayiotis Kokoras, Joseph Klein, Kirsten Broberg, William Coble, and Andrew May. Daniel is currently doing his Masters studies with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts at The Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
Conrad Asman, Cape Town, South Africa (Young Composer)
Conrad Asman (b.1996) grew up and was educated in northern Johannesburg where he took up the piano at age four. He commenced voice training and violin at a later stage and completed his schooling with six distinctions in 2014. Starting in 2010, he produced his first important works under the tutelage of Dr. Christo Jankowitz. Of these the trio for Flute, Cello and Piano entitled Where the Gentle Sprite Resides (2012) received its premiere at the Mainly Mozart Festival at the Boboa Theatre in San Diego, California. Conrad currently studies at the South African College of Music where, as the youngest undergraduate participant, he won the College’s Cone of Composition for his work entitled Hysteria: Antic Impulses for Chamber Ensemble. During the same year, he won joint first prize of the KZN Philharmonic Composition Competition 2015, for his large orchestral piece Igniting Kites & Flying Fireworks. Following a subsequent performance by the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, this piece has also been published in the International Journal of Contemporary Composition in 2016. These important opportunities have enabled Conrad’s music to be performed on both nationwide and international capacities. This year (2016), Conrad attended the Young Artist Summer Festival, held at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he was able to work with internationally acclaimed composers such as David Ludwig, Shinuh Lee, Johnathan Bailey Holland, Alyssa Weinberg and Nick DeBerardino. Conrad looks forward to interacting with more musicians on both local and international platforms.