Young Composers Project Wins 2024 Schnitzer Wonder Award

The organization will receive a $10,000 prize.

Young Composers Project at an April 2023 concert, photo by Kateshia Pendergrass Photography

The Oregon Symphony has given its 2024 Schnitzer Wonder Award to the Young Composers Project, the educational arm of the chamber music ensemble Fear No Music.

“The kids we work with produce truly inspiring work,” says Jeff Payne, director of YCP and co-founder of Fear No Music. “We are grateful for the award and appreciate the collaborative efforts with the Oregon Symphony to guide and advance the students’ creations.”

Jordan Schnitzer created the Schnitzer Wonder Award in 2015 to honor his parents, Harold and Arlene Schnitzer. Each year, the $10,000 prize goes to an organization that mentors emerging artists and student musicians.

YCP takes on about 30 students a year, ages 11-18, and helps them go from initial sketches to completed chamber ensemble pieces. The program started in 1997. Musicians with the Oregon Symphony and other industry professionals guide the students through three workshops with their compositions.

“It’s not classroom or computer work—it’s hands-on experimentation with the musicians at their disposal,” Payne says.

The Oregon Symphony will perform the YCP piece “Music for an Imaginary Cartoon” during the free Celebration Concert at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on April 13 at 6 pm. The piece was co-written by Malia Baker, Elishiya Crain-Keddie, Maxwell Evans-McGlothin, Manu Isaacs and A’shariá Pendergrass, who are all current Oregon high school students.

Past recipients of the Schnitzer Wonder Award:

2023 Outside the Frame

2022 Portland Youth Philharmonic

2021 Portland State University Chamber Choir

2020 David Douglas School District Music Education Fund

2019 Mariachi Una Voz

2018 Metropolitan Youth Symphony

2017 Dance West

2016 Pacific Youth Choir

2015 BRAVO Youth Orchestras

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