Composers Award

Established in 1959, the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra Composer’s Award is the oldest award of its kind in the nation.

Its purpose is to recognize and honor contemporary composers who are making a particularly significant contribution in the field of symphonic music, not only through their own creative efforts but also as effective personal advocates of new approaches to the broadening of critical and appreciative standards.

About the Award

While the judgment of any creative work ultimately rests upon the artist, it is nevertheless true that, in music as in other arts, appreciation often stems from personal association. The appearance of an outstanding composer before the more than 2,500 patrons of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra generates not only greater interest in his work but also a more appreciative hearing of contemporary music.

The Composer’s Award is given as the key feature of a program designed to encourage and actively develop a special interest in modern music and contemporary composers on the part of the audiences of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, to the end that this Pennsylvania community may serve as an example in the advancement of greater understanding and appreciation of contemporary music everywhere.

The award is made in connection with a regular concert by the Lancaster Symphony at which a representative work of the composer being honored is performed. In the acceptance of the award, the composer gives a short talk, summarizing his/her individual approach to musical composition.

2019 Sponsors

Mr. William & Mrs. Susan Adams
Dr. Paul & Mrs. Yvonne Belser
Dr. Clark McSparren

2019 Recipient

Dan Forrest

Dan Forrest (b. 1978) has been described as having “an undoubted gift for writing beautiful music….that is truly magical” (NY Concert Review), with works hailed as “magnificent, very cleverly constructed sound sculpture” (Classical Voice), and  “superb writing…full of spine-tingling moments” (Salt Lake Tribune). Dan’s music spans a wide spectrum of genres and difficulty, ranging from extended major works for chorus and orchestra and significant concert choral repertoire to more accessible works for church and community choirs, as well as instrumental works ranging from wind ensemble pieces to solo instrumental sonatas.

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Past Recipients

​In the history of the Composer’s Award, the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra has been honored to identify 59 artists who are truly making an impact on the world through music. This list contains a veritable Who’s Who of modern-day composers that we have had the privilege to host and recognize for their contributions to symphonic music.

1959 – Howard Hanson
1960 – Peter Mennin
1963 – Henry Cowell
1964 – Vincent Persichetti
1965 – William Shuman
1966 – Walter Piston
1967 – Norman Dello Joio
1968 – Alan Hovhaness
1969 – Roger Sessions
1970 – Paul Creston
1971 – Virgil Thomson
1972 – Gunther Schuller
1973 – Gian Carlo Menotti
1974 – Leroy Anderson
1975 – Richard Yardumian

1976 – David Amran
1977 – David Diamond
1978 – Louis A. Mennini
1979 – Robert Ward
1980 – Morton Gould
1981 – Jacob Druckman
1982 – Ned Rorem
1983 – David Del Tredici
1984 – Elie Siegmeister
1985 – Benjamin Lees
1986 – George Rochberg
1987 – Ellen Taafe Zwilich
1988 – John Corigliano
1989 – Ulysses Kay
1990 – John Harbison

1991 – Stephen Albert
1992 – Joseph Schwantner
1993 – Russell Peck
1994 – Stephen Paulus
1995 – David Ott
1996 – William Bolcom
1998 – George T. Walker
1999 – James “Kimo” Williams
2000 – Christopher Rouse
2001 – Aaron Jay Kernis
2002 – Lukas Foss
2003 – Joan Tower
2004 – Bernard Rands
2005 – Michael Daugherty
2006 – Richard Danielpour

2007 – Peter Schickele
2008 – Jennifer Higdon
2009 – Miguel del Aguila
2010 – Peter Boyer
2011 – Christopher Theofanidis
2012 – George Tsontakis
2013 – David Chesky
2014 – Michael Gandolfi
2015 – Tina Davidson
2016 – Augusta Read Thomas
2017 – No recipient
2018 – Kevin Puts