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Last modified: Thursday, June 9, 2005

National composer awards go to two IU music students

JUNE 9, 2005

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Two Indiana University School of Music composition students, Joseph Sheehan and Jeffrey Stanek, have been named winners in the 53rd annual BMI Student Composer Awards competition. No other school or university had more than one winner.

Joseph Sheehan is the first student composer to win the William Schuman Prize more than once. The honor is given to the composer whose work is judged most outstanding in the BMI Student Composer Award competition, now in its 53rd year.

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IU captured two of the eight awards, and Sheehan was named the winner of the William Schuman Prize, which is presented to the composer whose work is judged most outstanding in the competition. Sheehan, 24, also was awarded the Schuman Prize in 2003. He is the only composer in the competition's 53-year history to receive the distinction for a second time.

The awards are given to composers under age 26 who are from Western Hemisphere countries and demonstrate superior creative talent. Winners receive scholarship grants to be applied to their musical education. More than 500 manuscripts were submitted to the competition this year, and all works were judged under pseudonyms. Cash awards totaled $20,500.

Stanek, 21, won the BMI award for his solo percussion piece, I Can't Sleep. He studies with IU composition professors Sven-David Sandström, Don Freund and P.Q. Phan, and is pursuing a bachelor of music degree. He also has studied piano with associate professor Jean-Louis Haguenauer. In 2003, he won the Carlos Surinach Prize, which is awarded to the two youngest winners of the BMI competition.

Jeffrey Stanek won his second BMI award. He also won the Carlos Surinach Prize in 2003, which is awarded to the two youngest winners of the competition.

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Sheehan is pursuing a master of music degree in composition at IU, where he is currently a doctoral candidate and holds a composition teaching assistant fellowship. He has studied composition with IU composition professors Freund and Sandström and department chair Claude Baker. His BMI award-winning piece for orchestra is titled Sail Away to Soft Sweet Bells.

He also is a jazz pianist who has studied with Assistant Professor of Music Luke Gillespie and performed often in the Bloomington area. He was a finalist in the 2004 Alea III International Composition Competition, resulting in a performance of his Dance Dance Revelation by the Boston University contemporary music ensemble. His String Quartet was premiered by the Kuttner Quartet.

IU has now won 24 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 in Music.

For a complete list of winners and their biographical information, go to