Thirteenth Biennial Young Composers’ Competition

Cantate announces the winner of its 13th biennial Young Composers’ Competition: Emily C. Mason

Takoma Park, Md. — Cantate is excited to announce the winner of its 13th biennial Young Composers’ Competition. Composer Emily C. Mason of Chantilly, Virginia, submitted the winning composition: “Haunted Seas.”

For this year’s competition, entrants were asked to submit a sample work demonstrating their skills and style in choral composition. The winner will receive a $1,000 commission to compose a new choral work, in collaboration with Music Director Victoria Gau, to be premiered by Cantate in the spring of 2022.

Emily C. Mason (b. 1989) is a multi-instrumentalist and composer residing in Northern Virginia, whose compositions have enchanted audiences in the D.C. area and across the United States. Her setting of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Invitation to Love” won Special Commendation in the King’s Singers New Music Prize competition in January 2021. Emily received the first-place prize in the Notre Dame Magnificat Choir composition contest in May 2021, and in December 2019 her setting of Robert Frost’s famous poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” for string orchestra and tenor, was premiered by Marco Panuccio and the Cincinnati Conservatory Strings in Panuccio’s Emmy®-nominated O Holy Night national concert tour. Her harp solo composition, “Andromeda,” received a merit award from the Tribeca Young Composer Competition in March 2021. From May 2020 through May 2021, Emily collaborated with Allan Palacios Chan and 124 artists from 15 countries to produce the stunning “Pilar’s Hallelujah,” a virtual music and dance tribute to a Filipina nurse who gave her life caring for COVID-19 patients.

Emily started out as an instrumentalist, performing on harp, piano, and organ for twelve years before discovering a love for composing in 2017. Since then, she has been tirelessly writing for individual artists and concerts, as well as for two choirs and two youth orchestras which she directed until July 2020. Among her proudest and most challenging accomplishments was The Bach Project, a personal study modelled after J.S. Bach’s practice of composing new music weekly for an entire liturgical year, wherein she studied many compositional styles and wrote for a wide range of voices and instruments. She continues to explore her compositional style and hopes to have the opportunity to formally study composition and further hone her skills.

Cantate’s biennial Young Composers’ Competition seeks to encourage emerging composing talent ages 35 and younger from across North America. Begun in 1994, the Young Composers’ Competition is integral to Cantate’s mission and strong commitment to innovative programming, which includes the frequent commissioning and performance of new choral works.

The three distinguished judges in this year’s contest were Dr. Andrew Simpson, Professor of Music at The Catholic University of America; Dr. João Guilherme Ripper, Professor of Music at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; and Ms. Christina Rusnak, a multifaceted composer based in Portland, Oregon. The judges worked independently to evaluate the entries, identified by pseudonyms.

Cantate Chamber Singers, under the direction of Victoria Gau since 2019, attracts many of the Washington, D.C., area’s finest choral musicians, selected annually by audition. The group performs a broad range of great Western choral literature spanning the past five centuries and is recognized for championing neglected masterpieces and premiering newly commissioned works. Its virtuoso performances, often featuring acclaimed guest artists, are offered in smaller venues to create the greatest possible intimacy between performers and audience.

Cantate will announce guidelines for its 14th biennial Young Composers’ Contest during the fall of 2022.

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