2018 Biennial Music Competition Awards


First Place



Nancy Bloomer Deussen

Santa Clara County Branch

One of Nature’s Majesties



Second Place



Emma Lou Diemer


The Creation of God



Honorable Mention



Wang An-Ming

Bethesda Branch

Let All the World in Every Corner Sing


Excerpt from the Judge’s Comments…

I’d like to congratulate all of the composers on their fine work. Music, as I’m sure you all will agree, is one of the most abstract things in existence. You can’t hold, touch, see, or smell it, yet it has the ability to move us in the most profound ways.

The concept of music composition is even more elusive. A composer doesn’t impart information and techniques the way a teacher does. He or she doesn’t use tones to help sooth or heal someone like a therapist. They aren’t entertaining a crowd of listeners as a performer would. Instead, you reach into the ether and grab hold of something that doesn’t exist and breathe life into it. You mold, shape, and nurture it. You pull it into existence. It’s a type of magic.

In short — you create.

It has been my pleasure and privilege to have the chance to look through your work. I have been given an almost impossible task; one that I have very much enjoyed. My efforts are nothing compared to the unimaginable amount of effort you put into composing these works.

I have a couple of general comments meant for all the competitors.

• Music does not have to be complicated to be effective. Often times, the simplest of melodies have the greatest impacts on the listener. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing a complex piece, but I would encourage you to ask yourself if the music needs to be complex or if you are writing it so to appear a more capable composer. Put aside your ego and serve your music. That will, in my opinion, allow you to get more enjoyment out of your work and the creative process.

• Study all types of music. Don’t be afraid to go way outside your comfort zone. Film music, concert pieces, rock and roll, rap, country, jazz, reggae, folk, blues, whatever the style, devour all of it and assimilate it into your musical vocabulary. You will see your creativity explode.

If my 20-plus years as a practicing composer have taught me anything, it’s that I have a lot to learn. I come across new information all of the time. Things that I never would have considered on my own. Often times, it’s the most obvious thing. I have learned a lot by reading through your pieces and dissecting them to see what makes them work.

Keep composing!

Jonathon Walter Cox