Composition alumnus and student win top awards in national 'American Prize' competition

Congratulations to alumnus Shawn E. Okpebholo and DMA student Martin Hebel

UC College-Conservatory of Music alumnnus Shawn E. Okpebholo (DMA Composition, '07) and DMA composition student Martin Hebel won top awards in the band/wind ensemble division of the national American Prize in Composition Competition.

Shawn E. Okpebholo sits at a desk with his laptop

Shawn E. Okpebholo.

Okpebholo's This is Africa won first place in the American Prize in Composition - band/wind ensemble professional division. He is a widely sought-after and award-winning composer whose music has been described as having "enormous grace..., fantasy and color."

His previous awards include second place in the American Prize in Composition Competition (professional and orchestral division), winner of the Adams-Owens Composition Prize, the Flute New Music Consortium Composition Competition, and the Sound of Late Call for Collaborators Competition. A regularly commissioned composer, Okpebholo's music has been performed on five continents, all across the United States, and at some of the nation's greatest concert venues, including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. He is currently an associate professor of music composition and theory at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music. Learn more on his professional website.

A headshot of Martin Hebel

Martin Hebel.

Hebel's Tides Within won third place in the American Prize in Composition Competition - band/wind ensemble student division. The piece was commisioned by the CCM Wind Ensemble, which performed the premiere of Tides Within on April 24, 2019, in Corbett Auditorium. The piece is dedicated to CCM Professor Emeritus Terence Milligan, who also conducted its premiere. Tides Within was also a national finalist for the American Prize Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for Performance of American Music. Hebel's Dulce et Decorum Est won second place in the American Prize in Composition Competition - vocal chamber music student division. A performance of the piece was recorded live in CCM's Werner Recital Hall on April 19, 2018. 

Hebel also won the 2020 Presser Foundation Graduate Music Award. His previous awards include second place in the 2019 American Prize in Orchestral Composition Competition and he was a national finalist in the 2015 Morton Gould Young Composer Awards. Learn more on his professional website.

About the American Prize

The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit national competitions in the performing arts providing cash awards, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition for the best recorded performances by ensembles and individuals each year in the United States at the professional, college/university, church, community and secondary school levels. Administered by Hat City Music Theater, Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Danbury, Connecticut, the American Prize was founded in 2009 and is awarded annually. The competitions of the American Prize are open to all U.S. citizens, whether living in this country or abroad, and to others currently living, working and/or studying in the United States of America, its protectorates and territories.

Learn more at theamericanprize.org.