Sunday, August 7, 2011

The first VYTAUTAS MARIJOSIUS programming winner annouced

The American Prize is pleased to announce the winner of The American Prize in Orchestral Programming—Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award, 2011.

Among a field of very strong contenders that included many who program new music on a regular basis (especially within college and university music departments), the focus fell to conductors who take courageous chances, giving over large portions of their programs to unusual (but not necessarily new) repertoire, while balancing it with standard works or composers in ways that appear natural on the page, or who include less common names or pieces on their concerts as a matter of course, or who seem to make “adventure” part of the regular experience for their orchestras and audiences. All these approaches honor the memory of Maestro Vytautas Marijosius, for whom the prize is awarded.

From David Katz, chief judge: “For nearly thirty five years Director of Orchestral Activities at the Hartt School, Vytautas Marijosius programmed concerts that were alive in every sense—not programming for novelty’s sake alone, nor neglecting the great masters of the past—but always bringing to the awareness of his students and his audience great composers of the current time and potential masters of the future. I believe he would be pleased in different ways with each of the four honorees listed below.”

(Additional information about the programs and programming philosophies of the 2011 winner and runners-up will be published soon.) 

The American Prize in Orchestral Programming—Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award:

Donald L. Appert, music director/conductor, Oregon Sinfonietta, Portland, OR
Donald Appert has been Music Director/Conductor of the Clark College Orchestra since 1990. He has guest conducted orchestras in Europe, Central America, Japan and Australia. Currently he is a Professor of Music and Head of the Music Department at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. In addition he is the Music Director/Conductor of the Oregon Sinfonietta in Portland, Oregon and the Sanctuary Choir Director for the First United Methodist Church of Vancouver, Washington.

David Leibowitz, music director of the New York Repertory Orchestra, New York, NY, placed second.

Jeffery Meyer, director of orchestral activities of the Ithaca College Orchestras, Ithaca, NY,  placed third. 

Peter Freisinger, music director and conductor of the Freisinger Chamber Orchestra, Boston, MA, received an Honorable Mention. 


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

WIT: about conductors

The great Lithuanian maestro Vytautas Marijosius said: 

"Some people who hold baton
only have right to hold banana...
...or umbrella."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The VYTAUTAS MARIJOSIUS Awards in Conducting, 2011

I am very pleased to announce that The American Prize competitions has received a generous gift from the family of Maestro Vytautas Marijosius to fund cash awards in conducting and orchestral programming, honoring the memory of the great Lithuanian Maestro who taught at the Hartt School of Music for more than thirty years.

In addition to written evaluations and certificates of accomplishment, winners of The American Prize in ConductingVytautas Marijosius Memorial Awards in 2011 in the following categories will each receive $200 cash awards as a result of the Marijosius Family gift:

Orchestral Conducting 
professional, college/university and community categories

Opera Conducting 
professional category

Orchestral Programming 
one $200 prize will be awarded. Additional prizes of from $100-$200 may be awarded if the number and quality of other applicants warrant.

The postmark deadline for the competitions is:
Tuesday, March 15, 2011.

Complete information, including requirements and application forms, may be found on the website The American Prize


by David Katz, assistant and disciple

Maestro Vytautas Marijosius was born in Lithuania in 1910. He studied at the Prague Conservatory with Hermann Scherchen and Vaclav Talich and by the age of 28 was music director of the Lithuanian State Opera. He recorded for Deutsche Grammaphone, guest conducted throughout Eastern Europe, and was awarded the Order of the White Lion by the Czechoslovak government for his services to Czech culture, the country’s highest honor to a non-citizen.

Driven from his homeland by the Communists, he settled in New Britain, Connecticut in 1948 and soon joined the faculty at the Hartt School of Music (later part of the University of Hartford) where he taught for more than thirty years. He died in 1996.

A man of remarkable perception, quick wit, extraordinary musical skill and impeccable taste, Marijosius was delightful and demanding, beloved of faculty and students. Loyal to a fault, he remained at Hartt even when offered the post of music director of opera at the Eastman School of Music.

His podium manner was reserved and elegant (he had the most beautiful conducting technique I have ever seen) but he could generate overwhelming emotion in performance. The audience reaction to VM's concert of complete acts from Boris Godunov and Lohengrin at Hartt in 1973, for example, threatened the stability of the auditorium’s architecture.

He had catholic tastes, exposing his students not only to the great masters of the past, but to symphonic masterworks by (then) living composers as diverse as Husa, Copland, Honegger, Britten, Ginastera and Schuman. I am honored to have studied with him as an undergraduate and later became he graduate assistant, and I am delighted that the Marijosius family has decided to honor his memory through the awarding of The American Prize.

Individuals who also wish to honor the memory of Maestro Marijosius are invited to make tax deductible donations via our website portal: Funds donated in this way will be used to fund cash awards only, not for administration. See the website for details or send me an email at