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2007 Winners


Winners of the 2006-2007 competition

Justin Merritt, National Composer (Northfield, MN)

Composer Justin Merritt (b. 1975) is a new member of the St. Olaf Music faculty. He was the youngest-ever winner of the ASCAP Foundation/Rudolph Nissim award in 2001 for Janus mask for orchestra. In addition, he has won many other awards including the 2004 New Music North selection, 2002 Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra New Music Selection, the 2001 Kuttner String Quartet Competition, and the 2000 Left Coast Chamber Ensemble Composition Competition Award for The day Florestan murdered Magister Raro and many other awards. Other works include music for chamber groups, orchestra, ballet, and opera. He has worked as composer and musical director in dozens of theater productions, ranging from Shakespeare to Dada. Justin has studied composition with Samuel Adler, Sven-David Sandström, Don Freund, Claude Baker, and electronic and computer music with Jeffrey Hass.

Paul Ayres, International Composer (Greenford, England)

Paul Ayres was born in 1970 in London, studied music at Oxford University, and now works freelance as a composer & arranger, choral conductor & musical director, and organist & accompanist. His music usually involves words – solo songs, choral pieces, music for theatre productions – and he is particularly interested in working with pre-existing music, from arrangements of folksongs, hymns, jazz standards and nursery rhymes to ‘re-compositions’ of classical works, as in Purcell’s Funeral sentence4A Wreck and Messyah. Commissions for 2006 include Down and up to you for solo oboe, In the stillness for choir and string trio, andArtemisia for solo voice. Paul is assistant director of music at St George’s Church Hanover Square, plays piano for improvised comedy shows and has given many solo organ recitals in the UK, Scandinavia, Europe, North America and Australia.

Abbie Betinis, Young Composer (Minneapolis, MN)

Abbie Betinis (b. 1980) has written music in a variety of genres, but her greatest passion is for the human voice. Included in her catalogue of nearly 40 works for voice are commissioned pieces for Cantus, Dale Warland Singers, The Rose Ensemble, The Schubert Club, and The Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, among others. After receiving her BA in music from St Olaf College, where she studied primarily with Peter Hamlin and Mary Ellen Childs, she was accepted on scholarship to the European American Musical Alliance composition program, and spent two summers in Paris as a student of Philip Lasser (The Juilliard School) studying counterpoint and harmony in the tradition of Nadia Boulanger. Always an enthusiast of language, Betinis has set texts in English, German, ancient Greek, Irish, Latin, and gibberish, and is currently working on a song cycle featuring the Norwegian poetry of Rolf Jacobsen. Her text setting has been called imaginative and sensitive, even while pushing performers to explore extended vocal techniques such as yodeling, crying, spitting, whistling, or bird-calling. Her recent projects investigate ancient Greek love charms and binding spells, African melorhythm technique, the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle tradition, pre-Christian Gaelic keening, and early American shape-note singing. Betinis is currently completing her MA in music composition from the University of Minnesota. She serves as a Composer-in-Residence for the Schubert Club, and was recently named 2006-07 Composer-in-Residence for The Rose Ensemble, both in St Paul.