Award Recipients

Jesse Diener Bennett, 2022-2023

A headshot of Jesse Diener Bennett

Jesse Diener-Bennett is a writer and composer writing and composing in Denton, Texas and Montreal, Quebec. Madly in love with linguistics, he often works in the space between lyrics and poetry, music and words, meaningfulness and meaninglessness. Long-term compositional projects include music for speaking instrumentalists and the development of a Wordmusic notation, straddling the border between sound poetry and music. In addition to his compositional activities, Jesse actively engages in research into linguistics and semiotics; meaning in music; and conceptions of sense and nonsense.

From 2017-2020, Jesse served as co-founder and co-artistic director of N/A Ensemble, a new music group dedicated to performing experimental and adventurous works. N/A's first two seasons included a guest artist spot on the Toledo New Music Festival, performing works by Leah Asher, Nomi Epstein, Kristofer Svensson, Pamela Z, and the premiere of Jesse’s soprano and percussion duet, “Breaded Face;” a call for scores in collaboration with the Listening to Ladies podcast, resulting in a concert featuring works by Inti-Figgis Vizueta, Emily Koh, Kristina Warren, and Liz Johnson; timely performances of Francesco Filidei’s homage to a victim of fascism and police violence, “i funerali dell’anarchico serantini;” and two large-scale commissions of composers Jenna Lyle and Dennis Sullivan.

Jesse is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Music in composition at McGill University. He received bachelors degrees in composition and creative writing at Oberlin College and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a master’s degree in composition at Bowling Green State University. Jesse's music has been performed in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Ann Arbor, Montreal, Italy, and Germany, by ensembles such as the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Tak, Ensemble L’arsenale, AndPlay, and Departure Duo.

Francis Battah, 2021-2022

Photograph of Francis Battah winner of the 2021-2022 Andrew Svoboda Prize

Francis Battah is a Montreal-based composer. After graduating in classical and jazz piano, Francis studied composition with Denys Bouliane, Alan Belkin, Denis Gougeon and Ana Sokolović, at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University and the Université de Montréal. His works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles and orchestra have been performed on numerous occasions, including the Bozzini Vancouver Lab, the Canadian Music Competition, the Prix d’Europe, the composition residency of the Orchestre de la Francophonie, the Soir Festival, and events from La Société de Concerts de Montréal and the Montreal Contemporary Music Lab. Francis has received several commissions from performers such as Louis Philippe Bonin, Philippe Prud’homme, Michel Raymond, Bakarlari and the Trio Émerillon. In the fall of 2017, the Orchestre de l’Agora performed one of his works, as part of a fundraising campaign for the Les Porteurs de Musique foundation. The work, Kiwis and Men, written with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, allowed Francis to win the Prix collégien de musique contemporaine 2019.

In 2019, Francis won a third prize at the Antonín Dvořák International Composition Competition in Prague, as well as a special prize for the best fugue. He also won several prizes in the SOCAN Foundation’s composition competition: third prize in the solo / duo category (2020), first prize for chamber ensemble (2021) and the 2021 Grand Prize. Francis is the winner of the Orchestre Métropolitain L’héritage de Beethoven composition competition, with his piece Prélude aux paysages urbains, that will be conducted by Yannick Nézet- Séguin.

Chelsea Komschlies, 2020-2021

headshot of Chelsea KomschliesChelsea Komschlies’ music has been said to possess an “ingratiating allure” (San Diego Story). Ms. Komschlies (b. 1991, Appleton, WI) is pursuing her Ph.D. in composition with Jean Lesage at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. Previously she studied with David Ludwig and Richard Danielpour at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she was awarded the Alfredo Casella Award for composition, and with Dan Kellogg and Carter Pann at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she was awarded the Thurston Manning Composition Award and Cecil Effinger Fellowship in Composition. Her work springs from spontaneous subconscious mental imagery, and one of her goals is that listeners make deep, instinctual associations with her music, be they emotional, visual, or otherwise abstract.

Ms. Komschlies has been programmed by Alarm Will Sound, Choral Arts Philadelphia, and the Fifth House Ensemble, and by presenters such as Codes d’accèss (Montreal), Le Vivier (Montreal), CAMARADA (San Diego), the Philadelphia Bach Festival, and Make Music Chicago. She has received fellowships from the Aspen Music Festival, where she was the first woman ever to win the Hermitage Prize, the Fontainebleau School where Nadia Boulanger once taught, Copland House’s CULTIVATE, and several other festivals in the U.S. and abroad.

Omer Barash, 2019-2020Photo of Omer Barash

Omer Barash is a composer currently residing in Vienna, where he is a postgraduate student in Electroacoustic Composition at the University of Music and Performing Arts (MDW). His main compositional interests include the exploration of movement and gesture in music, the interrelations between them, and their poetic and performative aspects.

Barash’s artistic engagements have included collaborations with, and commissions from the McGill Symphony Orchestra and the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble, Ensemble Paramirabo, (Canada) Ensemble Reconsil (Austria), Meitar Ensemble (Israel), Duo Ardorè (UK), and Trio Arbós (Spain). Collaborations with conductors such as Pascal Gallois, Christian Lindberg, Guy Braunstein, and Peter Dobszay have taken place as well.

Omer Barash is the recipient of several prizes and awards, including the Svoboda Memorial Prize from McGill University (2020), the 1st prize of the Klon Award for emerging composers from the Israel Composers League (2019), and merit grants from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation (2018-2022), among others.

Most recently, Omer Barash was selected for Ensemble Modern’s 10th International Composition Seminar in Frankfurt, Germany.

His scores are available at BabelScores.

Philippe Macnab-Séguin, 2018-2019

Headshot of Philippe Macnab-Séguin

Philippe Macnab-Séguin (b. 1992, Montreal) is a composer and researcher currently pursuing his D.Mus in composition at McGill University. His compositional work aims to create a new musical language at the crossroads of popular musics (especially jazz, metal, funk and electronic music) and contemporary classical music. His background reflects these diverse stylistic influences: after having played, written and recorded punk, ska, metal, pop and electronic music from a young age, Philippe pursued a DEC in jazz guitar at Vanier College, followed by studies in classical composition at McGill University (B.Mus 2015, M.Mus 2017).

His research focuses on cross-stylistic applications of Aural Sonology, a method of analysis developed by Lasse Thoresen which aims to describe, transcribe, and analyze one’s perception of music without the use of a notated score, and which focuses on aspects of music often left out by traditional music theory, such as timbre, texture, and energetic tendencies. Philippe regularly organizes workshops directly applying Aural Sonology to composition and improvisation.

His compositional work and his research have been supported by, among others, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Fonds de Recherche Société et Culture Québec (FRQSC), and his compositions have earned him numerous awards, including three SOCAN young composer awards (2015, 2018), a BMI student composer award (2012), and the inaugural Robert Jones award for music Composition (2012).

Kit Soden, 2017-2018Kit Soden, 2017-2018 winner of the Andrew Svoboda Memorial Prize for orchestral composition

Kit Vaughan Soden is a composer, researcher, and music educator based in Montreal, QC, Canada.

He is currently pursuing a PhD in composition at McGill University, studying with John Rea, Philippe Leroux, and Stephen McAdams.

He is a student member of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology (CIRMMT) and the Music Perception and Cognition Lab (MPCL). Kit is currently working as a research assistant for the Haute École de musique de Genève (HEM) as part of the International Analysis, Creation and Teaching of Orchestration Project. His recent compositions commissions include a choral piece for the Schulich Singers and a monodrama for the Opera from Scratch workshop in Halifax. He is currently composing a short opera for three voices and chamber ensemble for FAWN Chamber Creative in Toronto, Canada.

As a composer, Kit is inspired by the interaction and relationship between timbre and expressivity in music, and particularly in the use of orchestration to enhance the dramaturgy of a composition.

His doctoral thesis and research creation project(s) will identity and explore the acoustic phenomena created through the combination of voice and orchestra, highlighting how composers can exploit our innate perceptual mapping of vocal and instrumental timbres to build dramatic and expressive qualities into their music. These topics represent some of the composition and research considerations that fuel his passion for learning and for exploring composition at an advanced level.

Takuto Fukuda, 2016-2017

Takuto Fukuda is a composer, sound artist and gestural controller performer.Takuto Fukuda, the 2016-17 winner of the Andrew Svoboda Memorial Prize for Orchestral Composition

How can music alleviate the intercultural collisions today? This question awakened him to the social significance of the concert, which provides a shared musical experience to all audience members regardless of race, religion and nationality. In hopes of attracting more people to the concert, he has been researching the enhancement of liveness — what makes music live such as spontaneity, cor- poreality and interactivity. His approaches encompass, among others, gestural control of music, interactive audiovisual installations, and Game Pieces.

His pieces have been prized at several competitions such as Andrew Svoboda Memorial Prize (Canada), Musica Nova 2010 (Czech) and Musicacoustica Beijing 2014 (China), selected for performance at numer- ous music festivals in Europe, Asia, and North and South America such as Ars Electronica (Austria), ISCM World Music Days 2016 (Korea) and New Music Edmonton (Canada), and performed at prestigious institutes such as IRCAM (France), ZKM (Germany), ina-GRM (France), and CCRMA (USA).

He is currently pursuing a D.Mus in composition at the Schulich School of Music.

Moe Touizrar, 2015-2016Moe Touizrar, 2015-16 inaugral winner of the Andrew Svoboda Memorial Prize in Orchestral Composition

Moe Touizrar is a composer, interdisciplinary scholar, and concert organizer, whose music and research converge on two broad areas — the perception of timbre and the study of musical meaning.

In 2016 Moe won the inaugural Andrew Svoboda Memorial Prize in Orchestral Composition. In addition to writing music, Moe is an active researcher and lecturer who presents regularly on topics related to the intersection between philosophical and perceptual considerations in music.

He has been invited to present lectures at the Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences, the University of Jyväskjlä, the University of Helsinki, and at the XIVth Congress of Musical Signification, in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

His research has been supported by, among others, The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music, Media, and Technology (CIRMMT), and the Music Perception and Cognition Lab (MPCL) at McGill University. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Composition and Music Perception at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University under the co-supervision of composer John Rea and experimental psychologist Stephen McAdams.

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