The Washington State judges were:
Much sought after as a composer, Martin Kennedy has received commissions from such distinguished artists as countertenor Ryland Angel, Parthenia Viol Consort, flutist Thomas Robertello, The Trombones of the St. Louis Symphony, and violinist Lara St. John, with whom he has enjoyed a long collaboration, both as a composer and pianist.
He is the recipient of several prestigious prizes, including the ASCAP Foundation Rudolf Nissim Prize for Best Orchestral Work, the ‘2 Agosto’ International Composition Prize, five ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, the BMI Student Composer Award, and the Suzanne and Lee Ettleson prize.
Kennedy holds a Masters Degree in Composition from the Jacobs School of Music, where he also earned dual Bachelors degrees in Composition and Piano Performance. He went on to receive a Doctor of Musical Arts at The Juilliard School as a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow. His principal teachers in composition included Samuel Adler, Milton Babbitt, Claude Baker, David Dzubay, and Don Freund.
Kennedy also remains in demand as a pianist and collaborator, appearing on concert stages worldwide. A passionate teacher and mentor, Kennedy is highly active in the development of young composers. He has served as an adjudicator for the ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, National Association for Music Education, as well as administrator for both the Washington State Music Teachers Association Composition Competition and the Washington State Young Composers Project.
He is currently an Associate Professor and Director of Composition and Theory at Central Washington University, having previously served as a member of the academic faculty at Washington University in St. Louis. Kennedy’s published by Theodore Presser Company and G. Schirmer Inc.
Gregory Youtz received his B.M. in composition from the University of Washington in 1980 and his D.M.A. in composition from the University of Michigan in 1987. His principal teachers have included Leslie Bassett, William Bergsma, William Bolcom and William Albright. He was awarded a Charles Ives Award in 1984 from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and has received annual awards from ASCAP since 1990. His
Scherzo for a Bitter Moon for band won the 1984 National Bandmasters Association contest and in 1990 his Fire Works for wind ensemble won the American Bandmasters Association Ostwald Award.
In 2008, The Five Changes: Concerto for Percussion and Winds was performed at Carnegie hall by the Oregon State University Wind Ensemble, and in 2010 The Monkey King for wind ensemble was performed by the Shanghai Wind Orchestra at the 2010 Shanghai World Exposition. In 2012 his oratorio Drum Taps: Nine Poems on Themes of War was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in music. His second opera, Fiery Jade-Cai Yan, composed to a libretto by Chinese poet Zhang Er, was performed at Pacific Lutheran University in 2016. He is currently at work on a third opera, Tacoma Method, again with a libretto by Zhang Er. He was selected as the Washington State Music teachers National Association “Composer of the Year” in both 2001 and 2016.
Justin Ralls, composer, conductor, and writer, hails from the Pacific Northwest and is inspired by the beauty of the natural world and ‘elemental imagination.’ Ralls has conducted his works at the Hydansaal in Eisenstadt, Austria, the Lucca International Youth Orchestra Festival in Albano Terme, Italy, Oregon Bach Festival, as well as venues in Salzburg, Rome, Portland, Fairbanks, Boston, San Francisco and beyond.
Ralls’ “Tree Ride” won the 2013 Highsmith Award for orchestra and received Special Distinction in the 2014 ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Prize as well as winning third place in the 2017-18 American Prize. Ralls’ works have been performed by a variety of soloists and ensembles including Albany Symphony (NY), Third Angle Ensemble, Roomful of Teeth, Fear No Music, Jarring Sounds, International Orange Chorale, Opera Theater Oregon, San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra, and more. As a composer he explores an aesthetic plurality and eclecticism encompassing many styles including natural soundscapes, improvisation, electronics, vocal, chamber, film music, jazz, folk and orchestral forces.
As a conductor he has conducted many premieres and contemporary works such as Academy Award winning composer Rachel Portman and Grammy winning composer Michael Daugherty, as well as community and professional ensembles. In 2017 Opera Theater Oregon produced the world premiere of Ralls’ chamber opera, Two Yosemites: An Environmental Opera, setting the 1903 meeting of John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt.
Ralls’ education includes degrees from The Boston and San Francisco Conservatory where he studied with Dalit Warshaw, Andy Vores, Jan Swafford, Dan Becker and David Conte. In March, 2020 he successfully defended his Ph.D. in Music Composition at the University of Oregon in Music Composition where he has taught composition as well as studying with Robert Kyr and David Crumb, with additional research in Nature, New Media, and Indigenous Thought. Spring 2020 he joined faculty at Linfield College as an Adjunct Professor of Music.