Congratulations to conductor Carolyn Watson and the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra who have achieved third place in The American Prize Ernst Bacon Award for the Performance of American Music competition, in the high school division.
Their live recording of music by Mark O’Connor marked them out from applications received from across the United States. The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit, competitions unique in scope and structure, designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the United States based on submitted recordings. The American Prize has attracted hundreds of qualified contestants from all fifty states since its founding, has awarded more than $50,000 in prizes in all categories since 2010, and is presented annually in many areas of the performing arts.
Ernst Bacon (1898—1990) was one of that pioneering generation of composers who, along with Thomson, Copland, Harris, and others, found a voice for American music. Winner of a Pulitzer Scholarship for his Symphony in D minor, and no fewer than three Guggenheim Fellowships, Ernst Bacon set out to create compositions that expressed the vitality and affirmative spirit of our country. It is fitting, and with honor, that The American Prize in 2016 created an annual award in the memory of Ernst Bacon, recognizing the finest performances of American music worldwide.
Carolyn Watson was a major prizewinner at the 2012 Emmerich Kálmán International Operetta Conducting Competition in Budapest and was also a Fellow of the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival where she studied with David Zinman. She has conducted in Europe with orchestras including Staatsoper Berlin, Brandenburger Symphonkier, BBC Concert Orchestra, Kodály Philharmonic, Budapest Operetta Theatre, and Bulgarian State Opera Bourgas. In 2016 Carolyn was one of ten conductors selected for the elite Dallas Opera Institute for Women Conductors and has participated in master classes with Marin Alsop, Peter Eötvös, Yoel Levi, Martyn Brabbins and Alex Polishchuk.
Carolyn conducted musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic in Interaktion 2010, was resident assistant at the Israeli National Opera in 2009 and has worked with conductors including Sir Charles Mackerras and Simone Young. She won the Brian Stacey Award for Emerging Australian Conductors, Charles Mackerras Conducting Prize awarded by the Australian Music Foundation in London, Nelly Apt Scholarship and Opera Foundation Australia’s Bayreuth Opera Award and Berlin New Music Opera Award. Carolyn holds a PhD in Performance (Conducting) from the University of Sydney where the subject of her doctoral thesis was Gesture as Communication: The Art of Carlos Kleiber.
An enthusiastic music educator, Carolyn is currently Director of Orchestral Studies at Texas State University and enjoys an active freelance career throughout the US, Europe and Australia. From 2013-15 she held the prestigious position of Conductor of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, having also conducted the World Youth Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra since moving to the US in 2013.