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Christopher Lowry

Maurice Gardner Competition for Composers Names 2024 Winners

Presented by the American Viola Society, the competition has awarded first prize and $1,000 to Christopher Lowry 


Founded in 2010, the American Viola Society’s (AVS) Maurice Gardner Competition for Composers is a biennial competition aiming to identify and promote important new works featuring the viola.

The competition honors American composer and violist Maurice Gardner, who composed extensively for the viola as a solo instrument. 

First prize has been awarded to violist and composer Dr. Christopher Lowry for Zenith, his work for viola and tape. His piece was selected from 77 scores submitted to the competition. 

Lowry will receive a $1,000 cash prize and his composition will be performed at the AVS Festival and the Primrose International Viola Competition in Los Angeles from June 19–22, 2024. He will also receive a stipend for travel expenses to these events.

Second prize and $500 were awarded to Ethan Chaves for his work, into deep eternity for solo viola. Two honorable mentions of the competition are Peter Dayton and his piece Beyond the Last Thought: Third Fantasy for Viola and Piano, and Evan Guttormson for his Autumn Prelude for viola solo 

The submitted works were judged on criteria including writing that recognizes the unique voice of the viola and its capabilities as a solo instrument, careful and inspiring construction of the work overall, and exciting possibilities and challenges for the performer. 

This year’s selection process was conducted blind from start to finish. To see how the event reached a more inclusive group of composers, the committee is now evaluating the demographic information that was gathered, without associating it with the entries.

Chaired by Martha Carapetyan, the competition’s 2024 committee members included Brittany J. Green, Michael Hall, and Ayane Kozasa. 

“The Committee acknowledges the deep commitment and dedication of all the composers who graciously and enthusiastically entered their scores to the competition,” they wrote. “Looking ahead to 2026 and beyond, we will continue to strive to make the process as inclusive and diverse as possible.”

Details on the next Gardner Competition for Composers will be made available in early Spring 2025. For more information, click here.

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