The American Composers Forum (ACF) is pleased to announce the winners of the third annual NextNotes®High School Composition Awards. NextNotes is a new, national program designed to nurture the next generation of creative voices in music composition regardless of musical style. Awards encourage and recognize the creative and talented composers with mentorship, scholarship funds and a performance of their work by professional musicians.

The following outstanding 2017 NextNotes winners were selected for their compositional skills and strong creative voices (more on each winner below):

  • Stephanie Chow (Bloomington, IL): Closer for vocals, electronic keyboards, and percussion
  • Alistair Coleman (Bethesda, MD): Images From Fallingwater for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion
  • Nathaniel Heyder (Alexandria, VA): Septet for Piano and Winds
  • Natsumi Osborn (Katy, TX): Veiled Expanse for flute, viola, and harp
  • Sammy Sussman (Bedford Hills, NY): Eyrie for string quartet and tape
  • Evan Tiapula (Brisbane, CA): On Being Crazy: Social Hunger for percussion, bass drum, clarinet, and tenor voice

“The American Composers Forum is thrilled to acknowledge and reward the talent of these young composers and offer this unique opportunity of a professional performance and mentoring experience that will impact their future,” said John Nuechterlein, ACF president and CEO. “Each young composer brings their own viewpoint and talent to their work and represents the next generation of composers in our country.”

The distinguished panel of composers who evaluated the 135 submissions from 34 states were Chris Koza, Elliott Miles McKinley, Alex Shapiro, Curtis Stewart, and Jen Wang. The panel named 6 winners, 3 alternates, and 20 honorable mentions. After listening to all of the entries, the NextNotes jury commented, “We were very impressed by the quality, talent, and diversity in the entries received, and were especially inspired by the amount of work, skill, and concept that these young composers are daring to do! Most notable were those composers that got out of their comfort zone and took risks!”

The NextNotes winners will travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota in June for mentorship with leading professional composers Carol Barnett, Joshua Clausen, and Joseph Horton, as well as rehearsals and performance of their winning works by professional musicians. The NextNotes Showcase Concert will take place on June 24th at 7:30pm at the Lab Theater (700 N 1st St, Minneapolis, Minnesota.) The Showcase is free and open to the public.

2017-2018 NextNotes High School Composition Awards applications will be accepted starting May 8.

Students in grades 9-12 are invited to apply with a single composition in any genre or style by the deadline of January 8, 2018 for the fourth year of the NextNotes High School Composition Awards. Interested high school composers are encouraged to visit the website and connect via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram.

NextNotes applications are submitted electronically through an online process. Six composers will be chosen to receive a scholarship along with travel to Minneapolis-St. Paul for a two-day workshop with professional composer mentors and professional musicians in June 2018. The workshop will conclude with an awards ceremony and culminating concert of the winning works.

The NextNotes High School Composition Awards are generously supported by The Augustine Foundation, the Rosemary and David Good Family Foundation, The Katherine B. Andersen Fund of The Saint Paul Foundation, and the Dr. Fred Noah Gordon Charitable Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation.


About the NextNotes High School Composition Awards Winners

Stephanie Chow (Bloomington, IL): Closer for Vocals, electronic keyboards, and percussion

Stephanie Chow is a 16 year-old junior at University High School in Illinois. She began studying piano at age four, then picked up guitar as her primary instrument at age 7. She has since developed an interest in jazz guitar (which she plays for her high school jazz band and the Illinois State University ensembles), along with improvisation, and composition with an emphasis on a fusion of hip hop, jazz, and pop. Notable achievements include a Downbeat Student Music Award, several 1st place awards for All-State ILMEA composition, and a 1st place national NAfME award.



Alistair Coleman (Bethesda, MD): Images From Fallingwater for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion

Alistair Coleman is a senior at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD. His music has been performed by the National Philharmonic, Atlantic Music Festival Orchestra, and the Cathedral Choral Society, among others. He was recently appointed the National Philharmonic’s Composer-in-Residence. Alistair’s music is published by E.C. Schirmer. He has received awards and honors from ASCAP, YoungArts Foundation, and NAfME. Alistair studies privately with David Ludwig and Richard Danielpour. He will attend The Juilliard School this fall.



Nathaniel Heyder (Alexandria, VA): Septet for Piano and Winds

Nathaniel Heyder (18) is currently a senior at the Interlochen Arts Academy where he studies composition under Cynthia Van Maanen and violin performance under Paul Sonner.  Throughout his musical career, he has played in various music festivals and ensembles.  He recently participated in The Luzerne Music Festival, the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute, Eastern Music Festival, the DC Youth Orchestra, and the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra. Nathaniel has also received recognition for his compositions from the Project 21 High School Composition Competition as well as the merit award in YoungArts.


Natsumi Osborn (Katy, TX): Veiled Expanse for flute, viola, and harp

Natsumi Osborn (b.1999) is a Japanese-American composer from Tokyo, Japan. Finding her interest in composition at the age of six, she has since written for film and ballet as well as concert music. Recognitions for her work include an ASCAP Morton Gould Honorable Mention, 1st Prize from the Carson Thomas Miller Texas Emerging Composers Competition, and a premiere at the Society of Composers, Inc. Region VI conference. She currently studies under Mr. Daniel Knaggs from Rice University.


Sammy Sussman (Bedford Hills, NY): Eyrie for string quartet and tape

Sammy Sussman is a senior at Fox Lane High School in Bedford, New York. He has been composing for five years and has been a member of the New York Youth Symphony Composition Program since 2014. For the past two summers, he has traveled to Paris, France to attend the European American Musical Alliance’s Composition Program. He currently studies composition with Dr. Kyle Blaha. In addition to composing, he plays classical and jazz bass, he has twice participated in Berklee High School Jazz Festival, where his jazz quartet placed second and third.




Evan Tiapula (Brisbane, CA): On Being Crazy: Social Hunger for percussion, bass drum, clarinet, and tenor voice

Evan Tiapula, 16, has spent the last two summers composing at Walden School’s Young Musicians Program in New Hampshire and has continued studies in harmony and counterpoint with Dr. Derek David. A student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Pre-college Program, he studies voice with Jimmy Kansau and composition with Arkadi Serper. He is the youngest, ever, member of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and is studying choral conducting under Director Emeritus, Vance George. This summer he will be attending Tanglewood Institute for voice.


NextNotes High School Composition Awards Alternates

William Chen (MD)

Theo Trevisan (NJ)

Elise Arancio (GA)


NextNotes High School Composition Awards Honorable Mentions

Benjamin Ballmer (IL)

Jason Brauer (PA)

Emma Cardon (UT)

Benjamin Champion (SD)

Andrew Courtney (CA)

Izzy Cruz (MN)

Clayton Dryden (IA)

Lorena Escobar (IA)

Seamus Flynn (MN)

Chloe Gardner (FL)

Michael Gaspari (NJ)

Camilo  Gonzalez-Sol (MD)

John Hamill (IL)

Mason Johnston (GA)

Jonah Murphy (NY)

Lila Quillin (MD)

Elliot Roman (NJ)

Isabella Stevenson (NY)

Benjamin Wenzelberg (NJ)

Jenny Yao (SC)


For more information, please visit,, Facebook, Twitter, or email Laura Krider, Director of Education and Community Partnerships, at

Download the NextNotes press release here.