International Alliance for Women in Music

2020 Search for New Music Winners

The International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM) has selected the winners of its 2020 Search for New Music Competition.

This competition recognizes the accomplishments of IAWM member composers and fosters IAWM’s goal of increasing awareness of the musical contributions of women. IAWM hopes that performers around the world will see this music as a resource for their own concert programming. There were 75 submissions from 17 countries around the world.


Winners in the various categories are:

2020 Ruth Anderson Commission Prize ($1,000)

sponsored by Ruth Anderson, for a new sound installation with electro-acoustic music.

Winner: No awardee



2020 Christine Clark/Theodore Front Prize ($500),

sponsored by Christine Clark of Theodore Front Musical Literature, Inc., for a large chamber work (for 9+ instruments) and/or orchestral works; may include works featuring soloist (vocal or instrumental).

Winner: Qingye Wu “Dream My Dream”

Qingye Wu was born into a musical family in China. In 2013, Qingye enrolled in the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied composition with Keith Fitch, piano with Daniel Shapiro. In 2018, Qingye enrolled in the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Her teachers at CCM are Douglas Knehans and Michael Fiday for composition, and Michael Unger for Harpsichord. She is currently a DMA student of composition in CCM.

Dream My Dreams is written for orchestra in 2017. It is inspired by my fantastic dreams. It has been common for me to have dreams that were not related to real life of mine at all, but rather adventurous or fancy during this year. It has been wonderful. However, when I want to share all of these magical experiences with other, the details are always hard to remember after I wake up. Therefore, in this piece, I draw the pictures of two connected dreams that I had in an abstract way, in order to make a reminder for myself of the feelings that I had while I was dreaming of them, and also share the adventures that I had in dreams with others.



2020 Miriam Gideon Prize ($500),

sponsored by Lucille Field Goodman, to a composer at least 50 years of age for a work for solo voice & 1-5 instruments.

Winner: Rachael Coleman “The Witness”

Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Rachael Coleman is a transgender composer, conductor, and comedian. She taught music composition and theory for 30 years at Hong Kong BaptistUniversitywhilepresentingasmale. Hermusicrangesfromlarge-scale multimedia/improvisation pieces to works for orchestra, symphonic band, chamber ensemble, instrumental solo, fixed media, and voice. Her CD Multiple Worlds is published by Ablaze Records. She is a founding member of People’s Liberation Improv, Hong Kong’s longest-running comedy improv troupe, and has performed with them in Beijing, Seoul, and Manila. A trans-media artist, she also works in painting, sculpture and computer graphics and performs stand-up comedy under the name Rose Rage. She is the author of the article Creativity, Comedy, and Composition.

The Witness is the central point in my five-song cycle, Disappearances, on poems by my mother, Mary Ann Coleman. Theoutersongsareaboutfamily:parents/dyingintochildren. Thesecondandfourthsongsaboutmy grandmother’s madness and my mother’s own mental problems: An otherness the child listened to/and still listens to… The Witness, a love song from my mother to my father, serves as something of an eye of the hurricane, a moment of sweet calm in the center of the ominous tempest: I turn to you, clothed in my smooth skin,/and feel my breathing tighten;/witness your face that will last in a pattern/meshed in my brain when this furniture has fallen/towardruin. The cycle is scored for soprano, violin, cello, clarinet/bass clarinet, piano, and percussion.



2020 Libby Larsen Prize ($300),

sponsored by Libby Larsen, to a composer who is currently enrolled in school for a work in any medium.

Winner: Erin Busch “words, contained: set ii”

Erin Busch is a composer and cellist residing in Philadelphia, where she is currently pursuing a Ph.D in composition at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the founder and Artistic Director of the Young Women Composers Camp, a two–week music composition festival, and has been commissioned and performed by the Albany (NY) Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra String Quartet, the TAK Ensemble, the Philadelphia Charter – A String Theory School, Matthew Levy of the PRISM Quartet, and Network for New Music. Recent projects include a string quartet commission from cellist Yumi Kendall of the Philadelphia Orchestra, a commission from the Amorsima Trio, a horn quartet for the 2020 Composers Conference as a Fromm Foundation Composer Fellow, and a multi–movement work for Sō Percussion. //

This piece is the second set of string quartet miniatures that I have composed inspired by words from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. This project by John Koenig attempts to encapsulate familiar but yet unnamed experiences by creating new words to describe them. The four words I chose for this set of miniatures (full definitions shortened here for the purposes of brevity) are: (1) opia: the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye; (2) chrysalism: the amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm; (3) morii: the desire to capture a fleeting experience; and (4) ambedo: a kind of melancholic trance in which you become completely absorbed in vivid sensory details. Excerpts from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows are used with the permission of John Koenig.



2020 Pauline Oliveros New Genre Prize ($300),

sponsored by Claire Chase, for works incorporating innovative form or style, such as improvisation, multimedia, use of non-traditional notation, open instrumentation, or new performance practices.

Winner: Sofía Scheps “I come from afar”

Uruguayan composer Sofía Scheps graduated from the School of Music of the University of the Republic (Uruguay), where she is currently an assistant professor to the chairs of Composition and Orchestration. In 2017, she completed a masters degree in Sound Art, at the University of Barcelona. She works in the frontiers of experimental music – acoustic, electroacoustic, and mixed media – and sound art, and has premiered works in concerts and festivals in Latin America, North America and Europe. Also, she devotes part of her time to sound design, music composition and audio post production for audiovisual pieces and scenic arts.

I come from afar (Vengo de lejos) explores the possibility of constructing sound contexts by interweaving simple and limited materials, which develop slowly upon fragile structures associated with the memory of the performers. The Witness is the central point in my five-song cycle, Disappearances, on poems by my mother, Mary Ann Coleman. Theoutersongsareaboutfamily:parents/dyingintochildren. Thesecondandfourthsongsaboutmy grandmother’s madness and my mother’s own mental problems: An otherness the child listened to/and still listens to… The Witness, a love song from my mother to my father, serves as something of an eye of the hurricane, a moment of sweet calm in the center of the ominous tempest: I turn to you, clothed in my smooth skin,/and feel my breathing tighten;/witness your face that will last in a pattern/meshed in my brain when this furniture has fallen/towardruin. The cycle is scored for soprano, violin, cello, clarinet/bass clarinet, piano, and percussion.

The piece brings up questions about how extra-musical cognitive and emotional aspects (the memory or forgetfulness of a close or remote relative) can qualitatively affect the resulting sound, if the do so at all. With a semi-open score, the piece proposes new dynamics and relationships between the performers, bringing memory and listening to the foreground as fundamental tools for sound construction.

Honorable Mention: Aine E Nakamura “Circle hasu”

Aine E Nakamura is a singer, composer and performing artist. In her composition, Life of A Flower—War and lullaby, she performed as a flower, which lived during a war time, from a sprout to the end of the blooming, through her vocal sounds, body movement, and imagery about the war, mother and her child. Her solo performances and installations include A Concert of Electronic Music in honor of Mario Davidovsk and Dias de Música Electroacústica. Premieres of her compositions include NYCEMF, October New Music Festival in Finland for and with MikroEnsemblen, and The Unseen World for and with the ICE at the Abrons Arts Center. Her other appearances include The Two directed by Dmitry Krymov. Nakamura launched Artist-in-Residence in Hospital and Recovery to define her own woman’s body. Winner of the APNM 2019 Electronic Music Competition. Awardee of the Leo Bronstein Homage Award. MA from New York University.

Circle hasu is a 26-minuite one-woman art of voice and body. I produce a sonic and visual space through my idiosyncratic performance grammar and a focus on orality—nuanced possibilities of my voice from my moving and improvised body, which supports a storyline about nature, animism, peace and my woman’s body. Hasu means lotus in Japanese. One of my languages, Japanese, and some of my ways of feeling about my ethnicity and cultural practices have been profoundly informed by the privilege conferred in Japan on elders and men. And yet, I want to explore how I can challenge these traditional power structures that preclude new ways of feeling. My transnational body seeks for the ‘borderless’ through my voice with and of my body.



2020 PatsyLu Prize ($500),

sponsored by Patsy Rogers and Lucille Field Goodman, for classical art nmusic in any form by black women and/or lesbians.

Winner: Melika M. Fitzhugh “Waiting for the Future”

A native of Stafford, Virginia, Melika M. Fitzhugh (A.B. Harvard – Radcliffe, M.M. Longy School of Music) studied conducting and composition with Thomas G. Everett, Beverly Taylor, James Yannatos, Julian Pellicano, Roger Marsh, Jeff Stadelman, and, most recently, John Howell Morrison and Osnat Netzer. Mel’s compositions have been commissioned by John Tyson, Catherine E. Reuben, John and Maria Capello, Laura and Geoffrey Schamu, and the Quilisma Consort, and have been performed in the US, South America, and Europe by those artists as well as the Radcliffe Choral Society, Berit Strong, Miyuki Tsurutani, Libor Dudas, Aldo Abreu, Quartet o Larianna and B3: Brouwer Trio. Mel, who has composed music for film and stage, was a member of Just In Time Composers and Pl ayers and is currently a member of world/early music ensemble Urban Myth, in addition to playing bass guitar with acoustic rock singer/songwriter Emmy Cerra, the ambient rock band Rose Cabal and the Balkan folk dance band Balkan Fields

We can feel any number of ways about the future: excited, hopeful, eager, resigned, fearful. The entire gamut of emotions can be in play.
The piece begins in a fairly stern, somewhat foreboding way before starting to lighten a bit with repeated ascending passages. This gives way to harmonics followed by a flurry of pizzicato, which in turn yields to dance-like sections that evince greater hope and intensity.
Can we win the struggle? Not entirely. But before closing the piece, the instruments find their way to speak with one voice. Discordant and harsh, clear and confident. The future never arrives, by definition, but we find some clarity of vision.



2020 Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble Prize ($300)

for Jazz compositions of any duration for small ensemble to big band (4-17 instruments)

Winner: Jhoe Garay “Laberinto de Raíces”

Jhoe Garay is a guitarist, composer and arranger from Mexico City based in New York since 2014. In May 2020, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies at The City College of New York. Garay is a three-time winner of the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation scholarship and has been the recipient of the Austin and Florence Kaye Foundation Scholarship since 2017. She has been awarded the Hilda Holober Memorial Award and Repsol Emerging Artist Award. In addition, she was selected to participate in the International Workshop for Jazz and Creative Music at The Banff Centre in 2017, she was a beneficiary of the Women in Jazz Organization Mentorship Program in 2019, a Latin Grammy Foundation Ambassador at the Latin Grammy Celebration in 2018 and 2019 and she is currently a grantee of the “Young Creators” program 2019-2020 by the National Fund for Culture and the Arts in Mexico.

“Laberinto de Raíces”, which means “roots labyrinth” in Spanish, is a piece inspired in the mangrove forests of Mexico. Mangrove trees serve as shelter for many species. Above the water, its trunks, branches and leaves are home to a variety of birds, reptiles and insects. Below the water, its roots serve as shelter for fishes, turtles, manatees, among other species. This piece portrays the life that exists above and below the mangrove. “Laberinto de Raíces” is part of a larger project called “Nichanti Mexiko: Sound Ecosystems”. This project has the purpose of honoring natural diversity through music, creating awareness of the importance of natural areas and transmitting a message that encourages the conservation of natural resources.



2020 Alex Shapiro Prize ($500 and mentorship/consultation from Alex Shapiro),

sponsored by Alex Shapiro, for a work of any duration for large ensemble wind band requiring a conductor, with or without soloist, acoustic or electroacoustic, published or as yet unpublished.

Winner: Wenxin Li “Wave”

Wenxin Li is a native of Chongqing, China, and is currently pursuing her PhD degree in composition at the University of Iowa, studying with Jean-Francois Charles and Sivan Cohen Elias. Li’s music has been featured in a variety of festivals, including Aspen Music Festival and School, Composers Conference, TURN UP Multimedia Festival, National Student Electronic Music Event, Midwest Graduate Music Consortium, SCI Student National Conference, FSC New Music Festival, Midwest Composers Symposium and Caroga Lake Music Festival. Her music has also been performed by the JACK Quartet, Accroche Note, Western Percussion Ensemble and Sound Out Loud Ensemble. Li received her master’s degree in composition from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and bachelor’s degree from Sichuan Conservatory of Music.

This piece is inspired by the wave movement of water ripples. Water waves are a mixture of longitudinal and transverse waves. They have various shapes, directions and dimensions. In this piece, I try to present an auditory illustration of three wave movements and effects, from formation until it fades. In the first section, the wave forms, at a single point, and starts to disperse and expand to the surrounding area. In the second section, we can see the vertical movements the wave causes in the water, rising from a low point gradually to a high point and then cycling back. In the final section, after a long-time propagating, the energy of water ripples decreases and we can barely see the wave, but it is still going and moving towards a further place.



2020 Judith Lang Zaimont Prize ($400)

sponsored by Judith Lang Zaimont, for an extended instrumental composition—large solo or chamber works—by a composer at least 30 years old whose music has not yet been recorded or published.

Winner: Amy Brandon “threads”

Composer and guitarist Amy Brandon’s pieces have been described as ‘… mesmerizing’ (Musicworks Magazine) and “Otherworldly and meditative … a clashing of bleakness with beauty …” (Minor Seventh). Upcoming 2020-21 events include works for the Gaudeamus Festival, KIRKOS Ensemble (Ireland), Exponential Ensemble (NYC) and guitarist Libby Myers, as well as installations and performances at Winnipeg New Music Festival. the Canadian New Music Network, Women from Space and Sound Symposium. She has received Canadian and international composition awards and honourable mentions from the Leo Brouwer Guitar Composition Competition (Grand Prize 2019), Central European String Quartet (‘Most Innovative’ 2018), and ArtsNS (Emerging Artist Award 2019).
In addition to performance and composition, she writes and presents academic work concerning music cognition, virtual reality, improvisation and the guitar. Holding degrees in jazz guitar performance and composition, Amy is currently completing an interdisciplinary PhD in music cognition at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

From the most traditional music to the most extreme we almost always include gestures that begin at nothing, gain prominence, and return to nothing – a ‘swell’. threads explores this particular gesture in many different dimensions, not just in the dynamic profile of traditional melodic lines, but also through swells of microtonal pitch, of white noise, of timbre, of distortion, of pointillistic elements, of density and of nothing. threads was commissioned by the Chartreuse Trio, and premiered in May, 2019 at the Music in Bloom Festival. Creation of the work was generously supported by a grant from ArtsNS (Arts Nova Scotia).



2020 Choral/Vocal Ensemble Prize ($300),

compositions of any duration for choral or vocal ensemble.

Winner: Maja Linderoth “Sonata form denatured prose”

Maja Linderoth (b. 1989) is a Swedish composer based in Oslo, Norway. She started studying composition with Per Magnusson in 2011, after several years of classical piano studies and music theory studies at the municipal schools of music in Norberg/Fagersta, continued at Gotland School of Music Composition 2012-14 and received a Bachelor’s degree in Composition in 2018 at the Norwegian Academy of Music (Oslo) and Universität der Künste (Berlin, Germany), where she studied with Eivind Buene, Maja Ratkje, Trond Reinholdtsen, Henrik Hellstenius, Kaija Saariaho and Daniel Ott. Linderoth also studied, with support from The Ulysses Network in 2018, at both “IRCAM ManiFeste” (Paris, France) and at “Composition, Alternative Performance and Performance Art” (Snape Maltings, UK). She has collaborated with several renowned ensembles including Faint Noise, the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir, the Cikada ensemble and the Oslo Philharmonic. Her music has been performed in Europe and in the USA.

Sonata form denatured prose explores and reflects upon the constituents and the limitations of language –
while crushing the alphabet between the teeth: wrestling with its insufficiency and its perfection, the vague and the distinct. An uninhibited flux of vocals and consonants are forming charged terms. At the same time, the constituents are only something sounding, a timbre, nothing more than that; only figures and sounds. ”We begin again” – both a frustrated attempt to achieve a perfect expression, and also in itself a phrase with an inevitable, distinct request. The text is written by the Swedish poet Gunnar Ekelöf (published in the collection of poems Sent på jorden, 1932), and translated from the Swedish by Robert Bly and Christina Paulston (in Late Arrival on Earth, 1967).




The adjudicators were Patricia Alessandrini, Charlie Beale, Akiko Hatakeyama, Yuan-Chen Li, Sarah MacDonald, Ali Ryerson, Dale Trumbore, and Jasna Velickovic. Michele Cheng served as chair of the competition.