M-Prize Semi-Finalists and Concert Schedule Announced

M-Prize, the largest chamber music competition in the world in terms of both prize money and number of applications, will hold its inaugural semi-finals and finals concerts in Ann Arbor, Michigan from May 17-19, 2016. The competition is based at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD).

The M-Prize Grand Prize winner, to be announced at the conclusion of the Gala senior finals concert on May 19 at 5:30 pm at Hill Auditorium, will take home $100,000, the largest award of any competition of its kind. The winner will also be presented by the University Musical Society (UMS) of Ann Arbor on their chamber arts concert series next season. In addition, the concert will be broadcast on Detroit Public Television and made available to PBS stations throughout the country.

Announced last October, the M-Prize Competition, created to identify and showcase the highest caliber of chamber music ensembles in the world, has received a total of 172 applications from 13 countries, officially making it the largest chamber music competition in the nation and world. Twenty-nine ensembles, comprising 120 artists, have been invited to participate in the semi-final and finals rounds.

The competitors represent three countries (the United States, France and Germany) and 17 states. (A complete list of competitors can be found below and on the M-Prize website.)

“The level of artistry and the brilliant variety of ensembles that have applied to M-Prize is nothing short of remarkable,” said Aaron Dworkin, dean of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, who founded the competition soon after beginning his tenure last fall. “There has truly never been anything like this in the history of chamber music. I believe it will be a game-changer in rewarding the excellence of this vibrant genre, and in building new audiences for it.”

In addition to the Grand Prize, another $100,000 will be distributed amongst first, second, and third prize winners across three categories—strings, winds, and “open”—in Junior (ages 18 and under) and Senior (ages 19-35) divisions. The “open” category can feature any instrumentation including, percussion, voice, or technology, and music that contains a significant amount of improvisation such as jazz, bluegrass, and world music.

Since its announcement last fall, M-Prize has amassed a number of organizations to join UMS as Founding Presenting Partners; all will present the 2016 Grand Prize winner in upcoming programming. They include Center Stage Strings, Interlochen Presents, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Rockefeller University, and University of Florida Performing Arts.

A screening jury, representing expert academics and performers, chose the semi-finalists in all categories and divisions. The jury included Toni-Marie Montgomery (collaborative pianist and dean, Northwestern University), Steve Tenenbom (violist, Orion String Quartet and faculty, Curtis Institute of Music), Chris Coletti (trumpet, Canadian Brass), Donald Sinta (Professor Emeritus of Saxophone, University of Michigan), Glenn Kotche (Wilco drummer and percussionist/composer), and Jeffrey Zeigler (former cellist with the Kronos Quartet).

M-Prize is sponsored by U-M’s Office of the Provost and received additional support from an anonymous donor. The goals of the competition are to provide a world-class performance and adjudication platform for chamber arts; to launch and advance the careers of chamber ensembles through prizes, visibility and professional development opportunities; and to evolve the breadth and depth of the chamber arts landscape and associated professional opportunities for exceptional ensembles.

For a complete schedule of the semi-final, final, and Grand Prize Gala Concert competitions, visit the M-Prize website. Free tickets are required for the Grand Prize Gala Concert and must be picked up in advance of the concert at the Information Office in the Earl V. Moore Building, 1100 Baits Dr., Ann Arbor, during business hours (9 am–5 pm, Monday–Friday). Please call (734) 647-6310 for more information. Please note that Grand Prize Gala Concert seating is limited.