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Composer Paul Yeon Lee
Wins 2001 Whitaker Commission

2002 New Music Reading Sessions set for April 15, 2002

31-year-old composer Paul Yeon Lee has been named winner of the 2001 Whitaker Commission, an honor that includes a $15,000 prize and a world premiere performance by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Chosen from among eight finalists in one of this country's most coveted opportunities for emerging composers, Lee won top prize at the American Composers Orchestra's annual Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions with his dramatic orchestral work entitled Phoenix, which won praise for its "beautiful lyricism blended with dramatic, energetic and rhythmic driving sections." Composer Joshua Penman received an honorable mention for his work As It Is, Infinite.

Paul Yeon LeeCurrently a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Paul Yeon Lee has had his music performed by a growing number of ensembles and orchestras, including Speculum Musicae, the Charleston String Quartet, University of Michigan Philharmonia Orchestra, and Haddonfield Symphony. Mr. Lee's honors include a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Haddonfield Symphony Young Composers' Competition, and an ASCAP Award. His principal teachers have included Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom, Bright Sheng, Pablo E. Furman and Allen Strange. In addition to the Whitaker commission, Mr. Lee is currently at work on a piece for five percussionists, commissioned by percussionist Anthony J. Cirone of the San Francisco Symphony, and a commission for cellist Stephen Czarkowski, of the Contemporary Music Ensemble at Mannes College of Music. Mr. Lee's music is published by Theodore Presser Company.

Held in New York this past April under the direction of ACO's Music Director Dennis Russell Davies and Artistic Director/composer Robert Beaser, with guest conductors Jeffrey Milarsky (music director of the Columbia University Orchestra) and Gil Rose (artistic director of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project), the tenth annual Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions attracted nearly 200 submissions from emerging composers around the country. Made possible by a grant from the Helen F. Whitaker Fund, the Readings provide an invaluable opportunity for developing composers to experience a full orchestral rendering of their work, receive the reactions of conductors, composers and performers, and obtain a professional quality tape to assist in their advancement. Over the years, more than 50 composers have received crucial career-development through ACO's Whitaker Readings, including such award-winning composers as Melinda Wagner, Derek Bermel, and Jennifer Higdon. Ms. Higdon served as a mentor for this year's Reading Sessions along with Fred Lerdahl and Michael Torke.

Lee was joined by seven other finalists in this season's readings: Joshua Penman, a senior at Yale University who is currently working on a 75-minute electroacoustic chamber opera, was represented by his work, As It Is, Infinite, for which he received an honorable mention. Leonard Lewis, a University of Missouri at Columbia faculty member whose teachers included Carlisle Floyd, had his Concerto for Orchestra performed. Gregory Spears, who studied with Augusta Read Thomas and David Liptak at the Eastman School of Music, and who currently studies with Ezra Laderman, heard a rendering of his Circle Stories. Dalit Warshaw's Tyburne Dance opened the second half of the program. Warshaw, who has studied with Milton Babbitt and Samuel Adler, was, at the age of eight, the youngest person ever to win the BMI Award for Student Composers. Italian-born Paola Prestini, co-director and founder of a multimedia group VisionIntoArt, was given a reading of her work, Blue (Some Souls); and Roger Przytulski, currently completing a masters degree in composition at the University of Southern California, entered his work Blitz. The program concluded with a performance of the fourth Movement from Thomas Tumulty's Symphony No. 1. Tumulty was a finalist in the 1999 Mitropoulos International Competition and a recipient of a Helen Hayes Award nomination for his directing work in theater.

The next Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions will be held on April 15, 2002 in New York City; the application deadline is 5pm on December 20, 2002. Visit www.americancomposers.org/wnmr.htm, telephone 212-977-8495, or email submission guidelines and application.

The Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions are made possible by a leadership grant from The Helen F. Whitaker Fund with support from The Greenwall Foundation and The Jerome Foundation.

 

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