Featured image: Award presented to the International Alliance for Women in Music on October 28, 2017 at the University of Kansas. From left to right: Ingrid Stölzel, Beth Denisch, Carrie Leigh Page, John Nuechterlein, and Christina Rusnak.

About the Champion of New Music Award

The Champion of New Music Award was established by the American Composers Forum (ACF) in 2005 as a national mark of recognition to honor individuals and ensembles that have made a significant and sustained contribution over time to the work and livelihoods of contemporary composers. It is made each year to individuals and/or organizations across a broad range of disciplines including, but not limited to, performance, commissioning, education, recording, and/or funding. Awardees are nominated and selected by the American Composers Forum Board of Directors.

2018 Recipients

Sarah Cahill
Nicole Mitchell
Jim Staley

The American Composers Forum (ACF) Board of Directors presented its 2018 Champion of New Music award to three outstanding recipients: pianist, writer, producer Sarah Cahill; flutist, composer, educator Nicole Mitchell; and Jim Staley, founder of the iconic new music venue Roulette in Brooklyn, NY.

Past Recipients


  • Charles Amirkhanian: percussionist, radio producer, and artistic director of Other Minds
  • Donald Nally and The Crossing: conductor and professional chamber choir
  • International Alliance for Women in Music: advocacy organization


  • Gil Kalish: pianist and founding member of Contemporary Chamber Ensemble
  • Nicole Paiement: Opera Parallèle’s artistic director, conductor, and founder
  • Alex Ross: new music writer, blogger, and New Yorker columnist
  • Robert Spano: conductor, pianist, composer, and pedagogue


  • American Composers Orchestra: orchestra focused on contemporary American music
  • Claire Chase: flutist and director of the International contemporary Ensemble (ICE)
  • Michael Morgan: conductor


  • Marin Alsop: Music Director of Baltimore Symphony
  • Frances Richard: director emeritus of ASCAP Concert Division
  • Steven Schick: performer and percussionist


  • No award made as program was re-evaluated by Board of Directors.


  • JACK Quartet: string quartet dedicated to contemporary classical music


  • eighth blackbird: contemporary music sextet


  • Bill Ryan: composer, conductor, educator, producer


  • Osmo Vänskä: Music Director of Minnesota Orchestra


  • Philip Brunelle: scholar, organist, and founder and conductor of VocalEssence


  • Bruce Carlson: Executive Director of The Schubert Club, awarded posthumously


  • Dale Warland: founder and conductor of the Dale Warland Singers


  • Cindy Gehrig and the Jerome Foundation: in celebration of 25 years of commissioning through the Foundation

Featured image: ACF President & CEO John Nuechterlein, Alex Ross, and ACF Board Chair Mary Ellen Childs.