Special Reports

MA 30 The Influencers: David Katz

December 1, 2015 | By Richard S. Ginnell

Founder and Chief Judge
The American Prize

David Katz has had a rather eclectic set of experiences in the performing arts world. He’s a published composer and a conductor who has worked with over 60 orchestras and opera companies in the U.S. and Canada. He has founded a number of organizations including Opera Maine, the Monteux Opera Festival, the Chamber Orchestra of Maine, and the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra. He is a playwright and the author of two books soon to be published by Del Gatto Press: Muse of Fire: A Symposium on the Art of Conducting and a companion volume, Bruck Stories. He is also the creator of a narrated touring concert, “Leroy Anderson: King of the Boston Pops.”

One of Katz’s most ambitious projects is the The American Prize, a series of national competitions for the best recorded performances on all levels, from secondary school to professional. The American Prize offers recognition in a bewilderingly wide variety of categories, from the usual conductors, soloists, composers, and vocalists to actors, bands, theater and opera companies, stage directors, and arts administrators. Submissions take the form of recordings for performers, and printed plans, press releases, etc. for administrators. 

Among the characteristics that set it apart from other competitions, the American Prize seeks to reward compositions that have been already performed and recorded, in order to recognize the “thousands of hours of toil,” says Katz, from inception through performance. 

Among the best-known winners of the Prize is Roomful of Teeth, for the 2010 choral competition. Nan Washburn, music director of the Michigan Philharmonic, a 2013 winner, is quoted on Katz’s web site as saying that the American Prize “has given us substantial visibility both on the national scale and here in the Detroit metro region. TAP also introduced us to a number of composers we’ve now performed.”

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