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Last modified: Friday, June 13, 2003

Three IU School of Music students win national young composer awards

Three Indiana University School of Music composition students, Ben S. Jacob, Joseph Sheehan and Jeffrey Stanek, were named winners today (June 13) in the 51st annual BMI Student Composer Awards competition.

IU students captured three of the nine awards presented at a reception held at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. No other school or university had more than one winner. More than 1,000 manuscripts were submitted to the competition this year, and all works were judged under pseudonyms.

The awards are given to composers under age 26 who are from Western Hemisphere countries and demonstrate superior creative talent. The winners receive scholarship grants to be applied toward their musical education. Cash awards totaled $20,000.

There were two additional honors. Sheehan, a 22-year-old student of Claude Baker, chair of the Department of Composition, was named the winner of the William Schuman Prize, which is awarded to the composer whose work is judged most outstanding in the competition. Sheehan is the third IU music student to win the award.

Stanek, 19, who studies composition at IU with Professor Don Freund, shared the Carlos Surinach Prize, which is awarded to the two youngest winners of the competition.

Jacob, 26, has studied with professors Baker, Freund and P.Q. Phan. He and Sheehan are pursuing master of music degrees in composition. Stanek is pursuing a bachelor of music degree in composition.

"All of us in the Composition Department at the School of Music are extremely proud of these three students," Baker said. "Each is well-deserving of the honor granted him by BMI. Their recent accomplishments -- as well as those of many of our other students -- underscore the strength of the music composition program at Indiana University."

IU has now won 22 BMI Student Composer Awards dating back to 1967.

Many of today's most prominent and active classical composers received their first recognition at the BMI Student Composer Awards competition, which is co-sponsored by BMI and the BMI Foundation Inc. Eleven former winners have gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize for music.

For a complete list of winners, visit

Biographical sketches of IU's 2003 BMI Student Composer Award winners:

Ben S. Jacob

BMI award-winning work: Thickness, for solo drum set

Ben S. Jacob was born in 1977 in Springfield, Ill., and currently lives in Bloomington, Ind. In 2000, he received a bachelor of arts degree in music composition from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and he is now pursuing a master of music degree in composition at Indiana University Bloomington. At IUB, he has studied with P.Q. Phan, Claude Baker and Don Freund. He won second prize in the NACUSA 24th Annual Young Composers' Competition, received a tuition waiver award from the University of Illinois for excellence in academic and musical achievement, and participated in the 1998 and 1999 Midwest Composers Symposiums. He performs on electric guitar, bass guitar and drums and has also studied a number of world music instruments including the siku, tarka, gamelan and sitar. Jacob's music has been performed on many occasions in Urbana and Bloomington, as well as in Iowa City, Iowa, and Ann Arbor, Mich. His BMI award-winning work was premiered in 2001 at the University of Illinois by percussionist Owen Rockwell, for whom the work was written.

Joseph Sheehan (William Schuman Prize)

BMI award-winning work: String Quartet

Joseph Sheehan was born in Latrobe, Pa., in 1981 and currently lives in Bloomington, Ind. He graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in music technology and composition from Duquesne University in 2002 and is now pursuing a master of music degree in composition at Indiana University Bloomington, where he holds a graduate assistantship in music copying for 2003-04. His composition teacher at IUB is Claude Baker. As a jazz pianist he performed with the Duquesne Jazz Band, the Roger Humphries Big Band and the Justin Surdyn Quintet, and he also performed on synthesizers, electronic drums and electronic wind controller in the Duquesne University Electronic Ensemble. In 1998, he was selected for the All-State Band on tenor saxophone, and he won the 1997 Duquesne University Freshman Piano Competition. His music has been performed by the Duquesne University New Music Ensemble and the Westmoreland Chamber Choir as well as on numerous occasions in Pittsburgh, in Bloomington and at Radford University in Virginia. His BMI award-winning work will be premiered at IUB in late 2003.

Jeffrey Stanek (Carlos Surinach Prize)

BMI award-winning work: Fantasies and Dances, for solo violin

Jeffrey Stanek was born in Madison, Wis., in 1984. He currently studies at Indiana University Bloomington, where he is pursuing a bachelor of music degree in composition. At IUB he studies with Don Freund, and he has studied piano with Jean-Louis Haguenauer. He is a cellist with the School of Music's University Orchestra and performed as piano soloist with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Birch Creek Symphony Orchestra. The winner of the 2001 Wisconsin Alliance for Composers Student Composition Contest, he has also received scholarships to attend The Walden School in Dublin, N.H. His music has been performed by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Phoenix String Quartet and the new music ensemble Non Sequitur. His BMI award-winning work was premiered at the 2003 Midwest Composers Symposium at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and has also been performed at IUB.