International Alliance for Women in Music

2021 Search for New Music Winners

The International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM)  selected winners of its 2021 Search for New Music Competition.

The International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM) is thrilled to announce the winners of its 2021 Search for New Music Competition. The 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 as a resource for their own concert programming. This year we received 87 submissions from 19 countries.


Winners in the various categories are:

Ruth Anderson Commission Prize ($1,000)

Winner: “Women’s Labor: Embedded Iron” by Jocelyn Ho with Margaret Schedel, Robert Cosgrove, Omkar Bhatt, Matthew Blessing commissioning Niloufar Nourbakhsh and Chelsea Loew 

Jocelyn Ho’s artistic practice involves exploring the relationship between sounding gestures and culture, as well as the rethinking of classical music through technologies, interdisciplinarity, and interactivity. As pianist and composer, she has been featured internationally, and is a Steinway artist and an Assistant Professor of Performance Studies at UCLA. In Women’s Labor, Ho collaborates with members of Ensemble Decipher and East coast artist-technologists: Margaret Schedel—composer and cellist, Professor of Music, and Chair of Art at Stony Brook University specializing in the creation and performance of ferociously interactive media; Robert Cosgrove—percussionist, composer, and technologist and current Artist-In-Residence at Practice Gallery (Philadelphia) and Technical Director for Yarn/Wire and Ensemble Decipher; Omkar Bhatt—computer scientist and researcher with a focus in machine learning, data science, visualization and human computer interaction; and Matthew Blessing—music technologist, composer, and guitarist whose research explores new human-computer interfaces focusing on musical expression. Commissioned composers for Women’s Labor include Niloufar Nourbakhsh—described as “stark” by WNPR, and “darkly lyrical” by NYTimes, winner of 2nd Hildegard competition, and recipient of 2019 Female Discovery Grant from Opera America; and Chelsea Loew—recipient of two Fulbright research grants with performances by Chór Narodowy Forum Muzyki, Yarn|Wire, and Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Featured performers include operatic soprano and member of Sputterbox Alina Tamborini; percussionist and sound artist Taylor Long, and percussionist Dianna Hnatiw. 

Women’s Labor: Embedded Iron: A feminist-activist project led by Ho, Women’s Labor repurposes domestic tools to become new musical instruments using embedded technologies. We interrogate domestic work—a gender-unequal economy that happens in private—through performance and interaction in public. The instrument Embedded Iron is based on an early-20 th century wooden ironing board and antique iron, built using ultrasonic, LIDAR, and spectroscopy technologies with machine learning. The public is invited to “iron” fabrics in interactive installation, including their own pieces of clothing, to make music, revaluing reproductive labor through sound. Two new compositions have been commissioned in concert performance: Housework Lock (her) Down by Jocelyn Ho and Margaret Schedel and Greyscale by Niloufar Nourbakhsh and Chelsea Loew. These were premiered in-person at NYC Governor’s Island, presented by Harvestworks in September 2021. 

Honorable Mention: Molly Jones “Security Blanket” 

Molly Jones practices improvisation, composition, and electronic art in Chicago. She plays saxophones and flutes and has performed in jazz, classical, Balkan brass, and Scottish country dance ensembles, as well as created multimedia performance and installation work. Her practice comes from a place of playfulness, listening, and attention. 

Security Blanket is an electroacoustic textile installation. Participants sit on cushions and wrap themselves in a t-shirt blanket sewn with TinyCircuits sensors and conductive thread; as they move the blanket, the sensors allow them to manipulate and trigger dozens of collaged samples of soothing sounds, including rain on a tin roof, a babbling creek, geese calling to one another in flight, a dishwasher running in the next room, and a cat purring. The calming effects of the dark, warm, interior blanket space and the soothing sounds bring a moment of peace in solitude, a feeling that has been scarce for some during this anxious time. Pause and listen. 


Christine Clark/Theodore Front Prize ($500),

Winner: Chenyao Li “Peony Pavilion-LI HUN” 

Li Chenyao, double master, doctoral student in the Composition Department of the Central Conservatory of Music (Beijing), and studying with Pro. JIA Guoping. She was born in 1992 and entered the Central Conservatory of Music for bachelor and master degrees without examination. In 2017, she was sent by the China Scholarship Council to study for the second master degree at the Lubeck Conservatory of Music in Germany with Composer Dieter Mack. She has created more than forty works, with a wide range of works and diverse creative styles, and has won awards in more than a dozen composition competitions.She has been invited to perform in various music festivals and events such as the Shanghai International Art Festival, the Dutch International Organ Art Festival, etc.Art groups she has worked with include Nieuw Ensemble in the Netherlands, E-MAX Chamber Orchestra in Germany, Dingyi Chamber Orchestra in Singapore, and China Youth Symphony Orchestra. 

Peony Pavilion-LI HUN is composed for ensemble with two vocal. The Piece is based on the classic Chinese Kunqu Opera the Peony Pavilion. The Composer attempts to describe the state of “dreams,” “awakening from dreams,” and “soul leaving the body” in the piece. The mezzo-soprano and the bass are two “wandering souls” throughout the music, and their lyrics are only two sentences: “The summer threads that fluttered in the clear sky were blown into the quiet courtyard by the breeze. Awful from the dream wake up!” Each word in the lyrics is divided and prolonged into small syllables to be sung, intent to create a mysterious and illusory image. 

Honorable Mention: Caroline Bordignon “Iridescent Flares I” 

Caroline Bordignon is a Canadian composer and fine artist based in the U.K. Recently her work ‘Iridescent Flares III’ for orchestra and live painting was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra on the 2019/2020 LSO Panufnik Composer’s Scheme. In 2020 ‘First Light,’ for solo cello was commissioned and premiered by Ovidiu Marinescu in America. ’Crystal Flame’ for solo viola was premiered in summer 2021 by Heather Wallington on the Psappha ‘Composing For Viola’ scheme. Her works have been performed in the U.K. and abroad including at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room, the Illuminate Women’s Music Series also broadcast on BBC Radio 3, the Equator Festival at King’s Place London, the Northern Chords Festival and the International Sound in the Land Music Festival. Significant commissions have included ‘Intertwined’ for singing solo viola by Katherine Clarke, appearing on Classic FM and TwoSet Violin. 

Iridescent Flares I is part of an ongoing series of orchestral pieces inspired by the idea of light striking crystal and releasing bursts of iridescent colour and shapes into the atmosphere. Music appears in this way, emerging from total darkness through my personal sense of synaesthesia. This is expressed in collaboration between orchestral composition and live painting practice if possible, connecting both art forms. The anatomic layers and sections of the painting are exposed from the beginning to end, evolving and forming with the progression of the piece. The completed work of art can be thought of as a remembrance, preserving the musical experience onto canvass as a more permanent art form and capturing the time-based nature of music in its structure. The piece may also be performed as a stand alone work if live painting is not possible. 

Honorable Mention: Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti “with eyes the color of time” 

Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti is a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) musician dedicated to the arts of our time. A “leading composer-performer” (The New York Times), Lanzilotti is the recipient of a 2020 Native Launchpad Artist Award and 2021 McKnight Visiting Composer Residency. Her “conceptually potent” compositions often deal with unique instrument-objects, such as The Noguchi Museum commissions involving sound sculptures. “Lanzilotti’s score brings us together across the world in remembrance, through the commitment of shared sonic gestures.” (Cities & Health) Lanzilotti’s current commissions include a new work for the [Switch~ Ensemble], the development and performance of which is supported by a project grant from the MAP Fund, a string quartet for Argus Quartet for which she is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Awardee, and a new work for the GRAMMY-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth supported in part by the National Science Foundation. 

with eyes the color of time – string orchestra (2020). The titles of the movements in this piece refer to works of art that were featured in The Contemporary Museum (Spalding House) in Honolulu when it first opened: George Rickey’s kinetic sculpture Two Open Triangles Up, Gyratory III (1988), Deborah Butterfield’s Nahele (1986), James Seawright’s Mirror XV (1987), Toshiko Takaezu’s moons (a series of sculptures she often referred to by the Hawaiian word, mahina), and David Hockney’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges (originally conceived as a set for the opera by Maurice Ravel of the same name). The title of the entire work, with eyes the color of time, comes from a phrase in the Ravel opera. The main movements are framed by interludes referencing the bronze doors at the entrance of the museum which had silhouettes of women in them (by Robert Graham). 


Miriam Gideon Prize ($500)

Winner: Leanna Kirchoff Arias from Friday After Friday 

Denver-based composer, Leanna Kirchoff, writes vocal and instrumental chamber music, choral music, and opera. Her choral music and chamber operas have been performed across the United States, including notable performances at the National Opera Association convention, American Choral Directors Association convention, and Carnegie Hall. Kirchoff’s chamber operas, Friday After Friday, Scrapbookers, and The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret examine the roles and experiences of the contemporary woman. Examining themes of sisterhood, women in marriage, and women in crisis, her work focuses on highlighting female resilience and strength. In collaboration with librettist, Rachel J. Peters, Kirchoff’s recent opera projects have been supported with OPERA America Discovery Grants. She holds a DMA degree in composition from the University of Colorado and teaches at the University of Denver. 

The Arias from Friday After Friday are excerpted from an opera-in-development, called Friday After Friday. In the opera, a series of vignettes illuminates political and personal perspectives of women living at the epicenter of the ongoing Syrian war crisis. The libretto by Rachel J. Peters is inspired by numerous sources including memoirs and articles by Syrian and Western born journalists and a variety of documented as well as in-person interviews with Syrian citizens. Scored for soprano, flute, violin, and cello, the arias offer poignant stories of how five particular women have coped with violence, poverty, and dislocation that has been created by the war. 


Libby Larsen Prize ($300)

Winner: Tao Li “Wu Ren Kan Ji” 

Tao Li 李陶, is a composer and performer from China. The philosophy, literature, and spirituality of the ancient East play a formative role in the aesthetic of Tao’s work. Her music consists of vivid soundscapes, colorful timbres, and interdisciplinary elements that often lead her audiences on a multi-dimensional journey full of imagination. As an Asian female musician, Tao is devoted to promoting gender equity and cultural diversity through her music as well as through collaboration with other artists. 

Tao’s music has been performed at concerts and music festivals throughout the world including China, Japan, Korea, Australia, Ireland, Ukraine, and the U.S.A. Her primary interests include acoustic and electroacoustic composition, performance practices, and analysis of compositional techniques, aesthetics, and intercultural dialogues. Currently, she is working on a Doctoral degree in Intermedia Music Technology at University of Oregon. 

Wu Ren Kan Ji is derived from my art song Gu Yan Er, originally for soprano, clarinet, and cello. While I extract and further develop musical ideas from the original art song, this new piece is another interpretation of the poem. As reflected by the title Wu Ren Kan Ji – translated no one to give to – this piece emphasizes the isolation and desperation of the poet at the loss of her husband and realization that she will live the rest of her life in loneliness. The poem I originally set in Gu Yan Er, and use in this piece as a driving story, is by Chinese female poet Li Qingzhao (1084 – 1151). This poem is part of a series of poems written to mourn her husband. 

Honorable Mention: Darcy Copeland “c a s c a d e s” 

Darcy Copeland (b. 1996) is a composer based in Seattle, WA. Described as “rare and pure” (Cacophony) and “captivating and relevant” (IYMC jury), her compositional work is motivated by a desire to question the human experience through tactile & embodied exploration. Having been drawn to both the aural & physical aspects of sound from a young age through the voice, her approach to composition today continues to be influenced by a primal curiosity of the physical world & what it means to be alive within it. In addition to composition, Darcy is also a cellist, vocalist, electronic musician, & researcher, exploring topics related to music & spiritualism, ecology, and sonic activism. She recently received a Master of Music degree in composition from the University of Washington and holds a Bachelor of Music in composition from Columbia College Chicago. 

Philosopher Timothy Morton refers to climate change as a hyperobject, “a conceptual fact so large and complex that, like the internet, it can never be properly comprehended.” Much of the complexity surrounding our concept of climate change is due to the incomprehensibility of the extent of an intricate and seemingly infinitely connected web of biofeedback loops, such as forest dieback and the albedo effect, which are accelerating the already staggering rate of global warming. These loops create a snowball effect, a cascade of impact escaping our control. c a s c a d e s is informed by these feedback loops and attempts to bring the intimately impactful, yet seemingly distant, effects of these feedback loops to the forefront of our perception. Throughout the piece, electronics distort the listeners perception of cause and effect, what is real and what is artificial, what is impacting and what is being impacted. 

Pauline Oliveros New Genre Prize ($300)

Winner: Hedra Rowan “nothing’s wrong, now you’re beside me again” 

Hedra Rowan is a woman in music. She lives in Chicago, where she runs the cassette label/concert series Bodymilk, and plays with Talullah Bankheist, hell & the high school, H e a d a c h e, and on her own. She recently reprogrammed her voice. Find her online or in person. 

In 2021, I got a new voice. nothing’s wrong, now you’re beside me again, is the first full exposition of my new voice. A selection of tracks that catalogue voice training, fine tuning of the instrument, first sentences, first songs. Several useful calibration tools, from the musical Evita, or Orlande de Lassus, were also used. 

Honorable Mention: Amy Brandon “Boundary” 

Composer and guitarist Amy Brandon‘s pieces have been described as “…gut wrenching and horrific” (Critipeg), and “otherworldly, a clashing of bleakness with beauty” (Minor Seventh). Her performances, installations and acoustic works have been presented at the Gaudeamus Festival (Screen Dive), National Sawdust (NYC), Trinity College (Dublin), the mise-en Festival, and the Winnipeg New Music Festival. She has received Canadian and international composition awards including the Leo Brouwer Guitar Composition Competition (Grand Prize 2019) and a JACK Quartet Studio Artist commission. In addition to performance and composition, she is completing an interdisciplinary PhD examining augmented reality, motor control and guitar performance at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

Boundary: Much of my work with augmented reality is connected to themes of boundaries, examining the place where the real world ends, and the digital world begins. Part of that boundary is the physical connection between these two universes, and the exact moment where the physical body begins to merge with digital space. Augmented reality technology, in particular AR controlled by hand gestures, gives the physical body control over digital space, allowing the individual to explore and sense the boundary between the real and the digital realm, and to manipulate it. Members of the public can interact with Boundary by ‘walking’ through the sculpture and examining it using the ‘lens’ of a smart phone, or ‘touching’ the sculptural elements, triggers sonic events, which creates a building and receding electroacoustic soundscape that is dependent on the movement patterns of the individual users. The sound is heard via their smart phone or tablet, preferably through headphones. 

Honorable Mention: Jewel Dirks “Living With My Donkeys” 

Jewel Dirks: Although educated in classical music (Eastman, DMA), I spent most of my life in psychology, first as a counselor for the seriously mentally ill and then professor of brain anatomy and neurology. I am surrounded by the Wind River Indian Reservation, and am retired, old and arthritic. However, my consuming passions remain roaming the wilderness areas with my pack goats and composing music from natural sounds. All my music is created from sounds that are around me that I’ve recorded–coyotes, birds, donkeys, irrigation pipes. I explore the many different ways that a sound can be heard through various midi effects and sampling tools. My music has been performed at various contemporary music festivals in Europe and the USA. I am active in the non-binary community. 

Living With My Donkeys is a set of nine short pieces reflecting the enchantment of sharing a home with two mini-burros. All sounds are created from one call I recorded from little Ouzal. I used sound design programs (HALion6, Equator2, iZotope RX8 and Iris2, Padshop2) to isolate various wave forms and grains within the call. I then processed those through FX programs (Eventide, Soundtoys, iZotope, Infected Mushroom among others). Using Cubase11, I was able to manipulate all sounds with the Physis K4(88) and Roli Seaboard Rise 49 keyboards, and the Hornberg Hb1 breath controller. Two versions are available, solo electronic or electronic with French horn. Both the solo version and score for the horn version can both be obtained from my website. 

PatsyLu Prize ($500)

Winner: Eunseon Yu “Shimcheong” 

Eunseon Yu, originally from South Korea, has written music in a diverse range of styles and mediums. Above all, many of her pieces represent her special interest in writing music that blends different styles or cultures encompassing jazz, Asian, Latin, and European concert music. Her music has been performed across North America, Europe, and Asia by many professional ensembles and performers including yMusic, The Oregon Wind Quintet, Ella Ensemble, Korean traditional instrumentalists of Sinakhoe, Eppes Quartet, etc. and has been featured at numerous events in diverse venues such as the Oregon Bach Festival, International Composers Workshop in Cyprus, FSU Biennial Festivals of New Music, The Piano Lunaire’s Composers’ Symposium, NYsoundCircuit relaunch show, Mise-en_Place Acoustic + Series, GRIT Collaborative & OME, CIA Symposium, FSMTA Conference, NASA regional conferences, and many others. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Composition-Theory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Master’s and Doctoral degree at the Florida State University. 

Shimcheong is a character in a Korean folk tale, Shimcheong, about a devoted daughter who sacrifices herself for her blind father. Shimcheong-ga is based on the tale in the form of Pansori, which is a Korean traditional genre of musical storytelling performed by a singer and a drummer. This composition depicts four scenes from the Shimcheong-ga, imitating unique vocal techniques and ornaments used in the performance of Pansori: Scene 1 – On her way to the Indangsoo sea, Scene 2 – She throws her body to the sea, Scene 3 – Missing her father under water, Scene 4 – Opening her eyes and reuniting with her father. Performer can also add optional exclamation called Chuimsae, which is made by a drummer and the audience in the traditional Pansori performance to praise the singer. 


Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble Prize ($300)

Winner: Yu Nishiyama “Retrospections” 

Originally from Yokohama, Japan, Yu Nishiyama is a jazz saxophonist and composer. She graduated from Senzoku Gakuen High School in Japan, and came to the United States to study jazz saxophone at the University of North Texas. While at UNT, Yu wrote arrangements and original compositions for several ensembles including the One O’Clock Lab Band. Yu has received the Herb Alpert ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award in 2019 and 2021 for her big band compositions “Gloomy Suite” and “Honorary Whites.” The big band that Yu is leading, Yu Nishiyama Big Band, has recorded her first album in October 2020. In 2019, Yu was accepted into the BMI Jazz Composer’s Workshop, a prestigious community of like-minded composers based in NYC. Yu is selected for the 2019 spring and 2019-2020 WIJO mentorship program. The program designed to connect and enrich the community of women and non-binary people in Jazz. 

Retrospections is a piece I wrote when I had a difficulty finding a meaning of living my own life and couldn’t find a hope for it. While I was writing this chart, I was thinking about what I would think in front of the Sunzu River, the river on the way to the afterlife, and what parts of my life would flash before my eyes. This composition is recorded for the Yu Nishiyama Big Band album “A Lotus in the Mud” and is expected to be released in 2021. 

Honorable Mention: Ellen Kirkwood “[A]part 3 – Greed and Climate Change” 

Ellen Kirkwood is a composer, trumpeter, bandleader and educator from Sydney, Australia. She was the 2012 winner of the Jann Rutherford Memorial Award for young women in Jazz, winner of the 2019 NSW APRA Art Music Award for Jazz Excellence, and a recipient of the 2021 APRA Art Music Fund grant. She was a finalist in the 2017 Freedman Jazz Fellowships, and her groundbreaking [A]part suite for big band was a finalist for Jazz Work of the Year in the 2018 APRA Art Music Awards. She has received many composition commissions including a work for FONT Trumpet Festival 2020, and released three albums of original work. She currently leads contemporary jazz quartet Underwards, performs regularly with several successful Sydney-based ensembles, and is the director of the Young Women’s Jazz Orchestra, established in 2016. 

This work is the 3rd movement in the 4-part suite [A]part, written for Sydney-based Sirens Big Band and guests. An epic and emotive journey, [A]part 3 – Greed and Climate Change, is Kirkwood’s response to the stark separation and cause-and-effect relationship between the life and attitudes of the very wealthy, and the magnitude and danger of climate change. This work visits these two sides of the climate change coin through jaunty grooves, moments of sinister darkness, humour, massive cinematic orchestrations and passionate emotion, and incorporates influences from outside the jazz world. The soloists on this track are the composer on trumpet, and internationally acclaimed Sandy Evans on soprano saxophone (and noisy toys!) & 


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

Winner: Andrea Reinkemeyer “Smoulder” 

The music of American composer Andrea Reinkemeyer, DMA (b. 1976, she/her) “offers a luminous glimpse of the next world” (Fanfare Magazine) as it “explores a reverent sound world that hovers just above the brink of silence” (Second Inversion), using “spare, melancholy passages to traverse a complex emotional landscape” (Eugene Weekly), “from reverence and supplication to mournfulness and despair” (textura), and praised as, “enchanting” (International Choral Bulletin), “clever, funky, jazzy and virtuosic” (Schenectady Daily Gazette). Her music explores intersectional feminist narratives, natural phenomena, and grief, including commissions from: Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and League of American Orchestras with support from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, Albany (NY) Symphony Orchestra, Rhymes with Opera, Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, Rodney Dorsey, and Fear No Music. Her music is distributed by the ADJ•ective Composers’ Collective and featured on several recordings. Dr. Reinkemeyer is Associate Professor of Music Composition at Linfield University. 

Smoulder for Wind Ensemble (2019) was commissioned by a thirteen-school consortium of conductors and ensembles led by Brant Stai and the Sherwood High School Wind Ensemble. 

Due to the changing climate, devastating forest fires are increasingly common. Though the surface fire is doused, they can smoulder underground for up to a year and, given the right conditions, they can reignite. Climate change is one of the top issues among America’s youth and there is a growing discontent with inaction on this front. With this in mind, the piece unfolds through a brooding and dynamic arch form. I wrote this piece to honor the young performers who will deal with these complex issues for the rest of their lives. 

Prize of Distinction: Jennifer Bellor “Bordello Nights” 

Described as “evocative” (Jazz Weekly), “lyrical,” and “mesmerizing” (textura), the music of Las Vegas-based composer Jennifer Bellor has been presented by Washington National Opera, American Composers Orchestra, Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra, Las Vegas Philharmonic, Clocks in Motion, Transient Canvas, and many others in the US and abroad. Her recent album “Reflections at Dusk” released by Innova has been described as “crepuscular,” “mystical,” and “magical.” Textura stated, “She’s also that rare composer whose music manages to be instantly listenable and emotionally resonant without any compromise to its sophistication.” 

Bellor earned a PhD in music composition at Eastman School of Music, a MM in composition at Syracuse University, and a BA in music at Cornell University. She is on the composition faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and artistic director of the Nextet music series. Please visit her website 

Bordello Nights for wind wind orchestra and jazz combo was commissioned by Thomas G. Leslie and the UNLV Wind Orchestra and premiered March 2016 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas featuring jazz soloists Eric Marienthal (alto sax), Colin Gordon (soprano sax), Mitch Forman (piano), Kevin Axt (electric bass) and Bernie Dresel (drums). A shorter version of the piece was featured at the Festival des Anches d’Azur in la Croix Valmer, France in June 2016. In Bordello Nights, the tango-like rhythms throughout juxtaposed with the ensemble of jazz improvisers intertwined with a dark, noir-like fabric paints a historical picture of the types of music that were often performed in bordellos in the early twentieth century. 


Judith Lang Zaimont Prize ($400)

Winner: Alissa Duryee “Night Sketches” 

Alissa Duryee began her musical studies at the piano, first at the Manhattan School of Music and later at the Ecole Normale Supérieur de Musique de Paris. Her interest soon expanded to other members of the keyboard family, and she earned degrees in harpsichord (CNR de Paris), organ (CRD de Chartres). She performs actively on these instruments as well as various fortepianos and clavichords. Her interest in instrument building has led her to complete two instruments: a fretted clavichord, and a French double manual harpsichord. Her work as a composer is essentially focused on engaging with these keyboard instruments in idiomatic, questioning, and playful ways; in continuity of the long-standing tradition in composition, instrument building, and performing challenge one another in new directions. Her piece “Forager’s Journal’ was awarded Second Prize in the Nordic Historical Keyboard Festival Clavichord Composition Competition. Alissa maintains a teaching career focusing on a common core of keyboard technique, and enjoys composing music for children. 

Night Sketches is a series of pieces to be experienced in the dark, or with one’s eyes closed. When writing this, I was interested in exploring the relationship of visual stimulation to piano performance. If the player is not seen, what can be understood about the space they are in and the sounds they make? Several of the pieces also pay homage to nocturnal situations : the langor of nocturnal marsupials, the busy frenzy of a frog pond on a summer’s night, with a wink to the Nocturne as a genre. The performer uses erasers, pencils, and paper to evoke the sounds of writer’s block, as well as a number of extended techniques throughout the series. The fifth piece, “Pond Jam”, may be played by any number of players, none of whom need to be trained pianists. Two excerpts can be found here :; An entire performance with low-level visual stimulation may be viewed here : 

Honorable Mention: Amy Stephens “Scenes of San Francisco 

Pianist/composer Amy Stephens has performed extensively since 1998. She enjoys writing in Third Stream style, a genre of jazz that fuses classical form with jazz language, such as can be heard in Amy’s Scenes of San Francisco, A Day at the Beach, and Becoming: Suite for Solo Piano in Seven Movements. Amy has fronted her quartet, Amy Stephens Group, since 1998. The quartet albums of Amy’s many jazz compositions—My Many Moods, Gold Through Fire, & Amy Stephens Group-–have earned acclaim and steady airplay on jazz radio around the world. They enjoy performing at jazz festivals and concert series. Amy earned two Bachelors, a Masters, and Performer’s Certificate in classical & jazz piano from Indiana University School of Music. Teaching privately since 1993, Amy is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music. For piano scores, recordings and videos, visit 

Scenes of San Francisco takes the listener on a musical journey to Amy’s favorite spots in and around the city, including Golden Gate bridge, Point Bonita Lighthouse, Muir Woods, Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park, and the Bay, where Amy has braved the icy cold waters in many open-water swimming races. The suite was written and filmed at home during 2020’s quarantine. It is dedicated to San Francisco’s essential workers, who so courageously kept the city and its people afloat during very challenging times. The piece can be viewed at: Scenes of San Francisco by Amy Stephens (2020) – YouTube and also at 


Choral/Vocal Ensemble Prize ($300)

Winner: Anna-Louise Walton “the deep glens where they lived” 

Anna-Louise Walton is an American composer of chamber and electronic music. 

Her music has been featured at festivals such as MATA Festival, ManiFeste, Darmstadt International Summer Course, and impuls Festival, among others. In 2019, she was awarded a BMI Student Composer Award. In 2020, she served as a mentor for young composers in MATA Jr. Current projects include a commission for Ensemble for New Music Tallinn by Musikprotokoll and a commission from [Switch~ Ensemble] with a grant awarded from New Music USA.  Walton grew up playing the piano and singing from a young age. She holds a B.A. in music from Scripps College where she studied with Tom Flaherty and an M.A. in music composition from Tulane University where she studied with Rick Snow. She also studied at Kunstuniversität Graz with Beat Furrer and at the Institute of Sonology in The Hague. She is currently pursuing a DMA in composition at Columbia University, with mentors George Lewis, Georg Friedrich Haas, and Zosha Di Castri, among others. 

the deep glens where they lived – for six singers and PVC pipes. This piece was written between 2020-2021. Like many pieces in these strange times, each singer had to record their part separately. They used only a stopwatch to guide their performance, without hearing the other recorded parts. The result is a piece that ebbs and flows, and allows space for the materials to interact with each other only after-the-fact. Each singer extends their voice with a PVC pipe fashioned into a kind of rustic flute, whose resonating frequency very subtly modulates the pitch that the singers sing into the pipe. At other times, the pipe acts as an amplifier, making more audible the small and delicate sounds of the mouth. Most importantly, the pipes help to modify the human voice, making us question at times if it is only human voices that we are hearing. “In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery” (Cormac McCarthy, The Road). 

Honorable Mention: Clara Allison “Knot” 

Clara Allison is a sound artist interested in intimacy and empathy. Her works explore connective networks, queer power dynamics, collaborative creation, and decolonialist approaches to western music composition. She is also a lover of drag/camp aesthetics as earnest and vulnerable forms of expression. She is currently pursuing her DMA in composition at Stanford. 

Knot, written for and performed by Variant 6, ties together voices, and lines of notation, into complex knots. Each performer is a string that crosses paths with others, is entwined and spooled, and weaves their way throughout the piece— a process of messy collaborative entanglement. 



Special thanks to the adjudicators Anothai Nitibhon, Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh, Anthony Branker, Emily Doolittle, inti figgis- vizueta, Julie Herndon, Jhoely Garay, Kirsten Volness, and Maja Linderoth. Michele Cheng served as chair of the competition.