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U of M Symphony Orchestra is Runner-Up in American Prize Competition

For release: July 28, 2011
For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey, 901/678-2843

The University of Memphis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Pu-Qi Jiang, placed second in the American Prize competition for Orchestra Performance (college/university). The University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra won first place; the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra finished third.

Orchestras competing in the American Prize submit a DVD rather than performing live. The U of M Symphony recorded Gustav Mahler’s Symphony #2 (Resurrection) at Germantown Performing Arts Centre earlier this year. The orchestra’s 84 musicians were joined by the University Singers for the 60-minute performance.

Jiang chose Mahler’s symphony in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Austrian composer’s death in 1911. Mahler also was the subject of Jiang’s doctoral dissertation 20 years ago. Jiang also conducted the premier of the new Chinese-language version of Mahler’s symphonic piece The Song of the Earth in Shanghai in 2005.

“The symphony orchestra’s second place award in the American Prize competition clearly demonstrates the high quality of the education a student receives in music at the University of Memphis,” said Dr. Richard Ranta, dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts. “Just as everyone is proud of the achievements of the Tiger basketball players, everyone should be proud to know that University of Memphis students can receive as high a level of academic instruction and achievement here as at any other university.”

Dr. Randal Rushing, director of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music, agreed. “The fact that our orchestra even attempted a work as monumental as the Mahler Symphony #2 is in itself quite a feat,” he said. “The fact that Maestro Jiang and the orchestra received such a prize is especially gratifying; it is a clear reflection of the hard work and talent of our students and faculty.”

The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit national competitions providing cash awards, professional adjudication, and regional, national and international recognition for the best recorded performances of music by ensembles and individuals in the United States at the professional, college/university, church, community, and secondary school levels.

The U of M symphony will be featured in the University’s Centennial Kick-Off Concert on Sept. 30 at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.

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