Composer Ericsson Hatfield has won first prize in the National Association of Teachers of Singing 2022 Art Song Composition Award for his work, “God’s World.” As the first place winner, Hatfield will receive $2,000 and the work will be performed at the 57th NATS National Conference, which is July 1-6, 2022 in Chicago. Additionally, the Cincinnati Song Initiative also will program the work on a future concert.
Hatfield’s work is a set of four songs for mezzo-soprano and piano featuring the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Composed in September 2021, the song cycle premiered November 3, 2021, in a virtual concert held by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music at the Barbro Osher Recital Hall, with mezzo-soprano Meghan Jolliffe and pianist Keisuke Nakagoshi.
- God’s World
“I am honored and humbled to have won the 2022 NATS Art Song Composition Award,” Hatfield said. “The simplicity and depth of art song makes it an intensely mysterious genre. The intersection of text and music calls upon the composer’s technique, taste and creativity. I am excited to engage with this art form further and develop my skills. I would like to express my gratitude to my composition teacher David Conte for his guidance in composing my first art song cycle. I would also like to thank San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Pankonin Commission Initiative, which provided the opportunity for me to create this cycle.”
NATS awarded second prize and $1,000 to Stephen Jackson for his work, “The Last Time My Mother Held Me,” which is a set of three songs featuring the poems of Ojo Taiye.
As with every year, NATS is committed to keeping the composers and their submissions anonymous in the adjudication process as to evaluate only the music itself. Serving as preliminary adjudicators were Laura Strickling, John Greer and Kurt Erickson. These three chose 10 finalists out of 40 submissions, and then the 2019 NATS Art Song Competition Award winner, Juilliard professor and composer Philip Lasser served as the final adjudicator.
“It was a pleasure and an honor to adjudicate this competition,” Lasser said. “Many talented submissions show that art song is alive and well and still holds a meaningful place in the heart of thoughtful composers.”
The NATS Art Song Composition Award program was established in 1983 to stimulate the creation of quality vocal literature through the cooperation of singer and composer. The most recent winners have included Jeffrey Ryan (2021), Kurt Erickson (2020), Philip Lasser (2019), Benjamin C.S. Boyle (2018), Matt Boehler (2017), David Conte (2016), Robert Patterson (2014), Melissa Dunphy (2012), and David Sisco (2010).
American composer Lori Laitman generously sponsors the cash prizes ($2,000 first prize and a $1,000 second prize) and provides winners a two-year paid NATS membership. The competition is open to any composer, professional or student, whose submitted work meets the prescribed requirements.
David Conte, composition professor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, was delighted when he learned that his graduate student, Ericsson Hatfield, had won first prize.
“Ericsson had never composed any songs before coming to us at SFCM,” Conte explained. “So his win is definitely an indication of his exceptional talent, and also the nurturing that we are able to give our composition students regarding the composing of art song.”
Conte is no stranger to the NATS Art Song Composition Awards. He won first prize in 2016, calling the experience “one of the great thrills” of his professional life.
Applications will be accepted beginning June 1, 2022, for the 2023 Art Song Composition Award with a submission deadline of December 1, 2022. The NATS Art Song Composition Award program is led by Carol Mikkelsen, coordinator, and Lori Laitman, advisor.
2022 Winners and Finalists:
First Place Winner: “God’s World” by Ericsson Hatfield
Second Place Winner: “The Last Time My Mother Held Me” by Stephen Jackson
Honorable Mention: “Peter Quince at the Clavier” by Michael Smith
- “Such a Thing Again” by Jodi Goble
- “Another Day” by Abigail Richardson
- “My Name is Alondra” by Omar Najmi
- “Love & Domestic Science” by Robert McCauley
- “How to Believe in Magic” by Scott Gendel
- “The Nothing Lamp” by Joseph Rubinstein
- “Geode” by A.C. Lovett
Ericsson Hatfield (b.1995) is a composer, performer, and educator. His compositions integrate classical and modern techniques to create a fresh musical language. He received first prize for his work Constellations as the youngest applicant in his category to the Tribeca New Music Festival. In 2020, he won the Kristen Pankonin Award at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), resulting in a commission to compose his first song cycle — God’s World — for solo voice and piano.
His work as an educator includes the manual Techniques of Canonic Counterpoint, to be published in 2022 in addition to lecturing at several forums on compositional technique, such as the SFCM Counterpoint Club. He studied Composition at the European American Musical Alliance (EAMA) in Paris with David Conte, with whom he is currently studying in the Masters program (2022) at SFCM .
As a violinist, Hatfield received his Bachelor’s degree (2018) in music performance at New York University (NYU), where he studied under Cyrus Beroukhim, Stephanie Chase, Gregory Fulkerson and Radim Kresta. He also attended the Meadowmount School of Music for three summers where he studied violin with Sally Thomas, Ann Setzer and Steven Rochen. Hatfield remains an active teacher and chamber musician.
Stephen Jackson’s catalog includes works across a wide range of mediums including art songs, children's opera, chamber music, choral works, arrangements of sacred music, and electro-acoustic scores. He has lived in Far West Texas since 2000 where he is active as a composer, conductor, private voice teacher, elementary music educator, social justice advocate and performer. Mr. Jackson also serves as the vice president of EPSMF, a local non-profit dedicated to empowering young and emerging musicians through its many programs. He is currently the music director and composer in residence for St. Mark's UMC and a guest conductor for Temple Mt. Sinai. The cycle "The Last Time My Mother Held Me" marks his first collaboration with friend and poet Ojo Taiye of Agbor, Nigeria.