American Composers Forum announces winners of the NextNotes High School Composition Awards

NextNotes is a new, national program designed to nurture the next generation of creative voices in music composition regardless of musical style. Awards encourage and recognize the creative and talented composers with mentorship, scholarship funds and a performance of their work by professional musicians. The following outstanding 2015 NextNotes Winners were selected for their compositional skills and strong creative voices (more on each winner below):

  • Aiyana Braun (Ardmore, PA): abrasions for cello quartet
  • Michael Cabrera (Auburndale, FL): Polarities for string quartet
  • Evan Caplinger (San Diego, CA): Forges the Sky for string quintet
  • April Lasken (Hampshire, IL): The Call for voice and rock band
  • Quinn Mason (Dallas, TX): Masonian Rondo for brass quartet
  • Ian Underhill-Cady (Minneapolis, MN): The Disconnect for voice and electronics

“The American Composers Forum is thrilled to acknowledge and reward the talent of these young composers and offer this unique opportunity of a professional performance and mentoring experience that will impact their futures,” said John Nuechterlein, ACF president and CEO. “Each young composer brings their own viewpoint and talent to their work and represents the next generation of composers in our country.” The distinguished panel of composers who evaluated the 141 submissions from 35 states were Alexander Christie, Daniel Kellogg, Edward Knight, Sean McPherson, and Nina C. Young. The panel named 6 winners and 27 honorable mentions. After listening to all of the entries, the NextNotes jury commented, “We are impressed and inspired by the high quality of music being written by high school students around the country. The submissions represent a stylistically diverse approach to music composition and we would like to commend these young artists on their breadth of expression and risk-taking. We are delighted by the strength of the pieces submitted and look forward to the future of these composers and the NextNotes program.”

NN Winners Canva 3 copy

The NextNotes winners will travel to St. Paul, Minnesota in June for mentorship with leading professional composers Joshua Clausen, Joe Horton, and Libby Larsen, as well as a rehearsals and ultimately a performance of their winning works by professional musicians.

The NextNotes Showcase Concert will take place on June 27th at 8pm in the Mairs Concert Hall, Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center at Macalester College (St. Paul, Minnesota.) It is free and open to the public. 2015-2016 NextNotes High School Composition Awards applications now being accepted Students in grades 9-12 are invited to apply with a single composition in any genre or style by the deadline of January 11, 2016 for the second year of the NextNotes High School Composition Awards.

Interested high school composers are encouraged to visit the website and connect via Twitter (@NextNotes), Facebook (ACF Ed), and on Tumblr, Instagram, and Vine (all acfnextnotes). NextNotes applications are submitted electronically through an online process.

Six composers will be chosen to receive a scholarship along with travel to Minneapolis-St. Paul for a two-day workshop with professional composer mentors and professional musicians in June 2016. The workshop will conclude with an awards ceremony and culminating concert of the winning works. Knight Foundation is the founding sponsor of the NextNotes High School Composition Awards, with additional funding provided by The Augustine Foundation and the Dr. Fred Noah Gordon Charitable Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation. For more information, please visit or or email Suzanna Altman, Director of Education and Community Engagement, at [email protected].