The Cal State San Bernardino Symphonic Band has been named a semi-finalist for the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music (College/University Division) for their March 2020 performances of Scott McAllister’s “Black Dog” and Omar Thomas’ arrangement of the American classic “Shenandoah.”

Black Dog is a rhapsody for solo clarinet and wind ensemble, and was performed with CSUSB professor Margaret Worsley, lecturer of applied clarinet, principal clarinet for the San Bernardino Symphony, as well as director of bands at San Bernardino Valley College.  

The recognition is especially meaningful, as these were the last two pieces performed by the Symphonic Band prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted performances on campus, and thus, limited the ability to perform together as a large ensemble.

“I’m so happy we got to perform these wonderful works with our students and colleagues, and I’m very much looking forward to making music with them again,” said Nicholas Bratcher, director of bands at CSUSB.

The naming of semi-finalist for the Ernst Bacon Award follows two other semi-finalist recognitions from the American Prize for the 2020-2021 academic year: “College/University Wind Band Performance” for the ensemble, and “Ensemble Conducting (college band division)” for Bratcher.

The Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music is administered by the American Prize National Competition for the Performing Arts and is unique in its own right. It recognizes and rewards the best performances of American music by ensembles and individual artists worldwide, based on submitted recordings. Focused exclusively on works by American composers from any period and in any style, the contest not only judges performances, but in the case of new or unfamiliar works, the music itself.

Ernst Bacon (1898-1990) was one of that pioneering generation of composers who found a voice for American music. To learn more about the music and legacy of Ernst Bacon, visit the Ernst Bacon Society website.

The CSUSB Symphonic Band has been recognized for its innovative programming and performances since Bratcher took the helm as director of bands and assistant professor of music in 2017. In addition to performing regional tours throughout the Inland Empire, the Symphonic Band and Chamber Winds regularly champion new works for the medium as well as underrepresented minority composers in their innovative concerts and educational outreach opportunities involving area high schools.

In 2019, the CSUSB Symphonic Band was recognized as a finalist for College/University Wind Band Performance in the American Prize National Competition for the Performing Arts. That same year, the ensemble was invited and accepted to perform at the Inaugural Emerald Isle Wind Festival in Ireland. However, the opportunity was cut short due to the pandemic.

For more information on the CSUSB band program, visit the Department of Music website.

To learn more about the Ernst Bacon Award, visit The American Prize website.