Yale School of Music composers win Emmy, Gaudeamus Prize

Last Sunday (Sept. 11) was a stellar day for two Yale School of Music (YSM) composers. Garth Neustadter, a current student of composition at YSM, received an Emmy Award for his score for the PBS documentary “John Muir in the New World,” and recent alumnus Yoshiaki Onishi won the prestigious Gaudeamus Prize 2011 for a piece he composed titled “Départ dans…”

Emmy Award

Neustadter, who will earn his Master of Music degree in May, received the Emmy in the category of Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) at an event held prior to the Emmy Awards ceremony that will be telecast on Sunday, Sept. 18.

The winning score for the John Muir episode of the PBS American Masters series was recorded at Yale with School of Music and Yale College musicians.

“Winning the Emmy was an almost surreal experience,” Neustadter said. “I had been extremely honored just to receive the nomination, so receiving the actual award was a humbling moment, and I am very appreciative of everyone involved in the project including members of the Yale Philharmonia, Yale Symphony and Linden String Quartet.”

Neustadter, 25, has already garnered an array of awards and honors for his compositions and musical performances. In 2007 he won first prize in the Turner Classic Movies Young Film Composers Competition, and was subsequently commissioned by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Warner Brothers to compose and produce the feature-length musical score for the TCM film “The White Sister.” He is a five-time DownBeat Magazine award winner in the areas of composition, classical violin performance and jazz saxophone performance. He has received an ASCAP Morton Gould Award, an ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award, and an ASCAP fellowship for film scoring at Aspen, as well as multiple awards from the National Federation of Music Clubs. He was recently selected as one of 10 finalists in the International Transatlantyk Film Music Competition. Neustadter holds degrees in violin and voice performance from the Lawrence Conservatory of Music.

Gaudeamus Prize

Onishi, who is currently studying composition and teaching music humanities at Columbia University, received the prestigious Gaudeamus Prize at the culmination of the one-week Gaudeamus international festival of new music held in Utrecht, The Netherlands. An international jury unanimously selected Onishi from among 13 nominees chosen from nearly 400 entries. The prize of 4,550 euros doubles as a commission for a new work to be performed at the Gaudeamus Music Week 2012.

“Winning the prize was the last thing I was expecting at the Gaudeamus Muziekweek,” wrote Onishi in an email. “I was focused on a fruitful collaboration with the Nieuw Ensemble, which played my piece with vitality and intellect.”

Born in Hokkaido, Japan in 1981, Onishi is active as both a composer and conductor. He received the Artist Diploma (2008) and the Master of Music degrees (2007) in music composition at YSM. His most recent project is a piece for violinist Ari Streisfeld from the JACK Quartet, as part of a cycle of pieces for string instruments. Onishi, also in demand as a conductor, has led the Talea Ensemble, Wet Ink Ensemble, Iktus Percussion, Mantra Percussion, Dither Quartet and PMF Academy Ensemble, among others, and he has collaborated with composers such as Zosha Di Castri, Curtis K. Hughes, Philip Schuessler, Wang Lu, Kate Soper and Matthew Ricketts.

Onishi is the second Yale School of Music graduate to win the Gaudeamus Prize in recent years: Ted Hearne ‘09MMA won in 2009 for selected movements from his piece “Katrina Ballads.”

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