Composer Competition Winner 2022

International Winner: Travis Reynolds (USA) – [by zero]

Travis Reynolds is a composer and pianist originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, now based in Los Angeles. Described as “musically intriguing… [and] extremely memorable” (I Care If You Listen), his music has received regular performances around the globe, including Carnegie Hall, Kaufman Music Center, and the Kennedy Center. This summer, he will write a new work for the N.E.O Voice Festival in Los Angeles, and his song cycle Birds Gone South will receive its premiere in Munich. When he is not composing, he works as a collaborative pianist and teacher, and directs the music program at First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles. His music can be heard on LYNX’s debut album beautiful small things and at

1st runner-up: Jee Seo (South Korea, Poland) – Wind

Jee Seo was born in Seoul, South Korea. His works has been performed across four continents, and has received awards from numerous organizations. His music was released by Ablaze Records, Phasma Music and Deus Ex Musica, and was broadcasted by Hawaii Public Radio and Radiofabrik in Salzburg. Jee is currently studying at The Krzysztof Penderecki Academy of Music in Krakow.

2nd runner-up: Peter Swanson (USA) – Four Dialogues for voice and cello

Cellist and composer Peter Swanson has been praised for “fiery playing” and “dramatic performance” and performs across the country as soloist, orchestral leader, and cutting-edge collaborator. He is cellist of innovative chamber ensemble Catchfire Collective and performs with pianist Meagan Lacher as Duo 336. His compositions have been performed around the United States and stretch boundaries of classical music, with pieces utilizing screaming vocals, multiple virtual choirs, and unconventional instrumentation. He currently resides in North Carolina and works as an Emergency Medical Technician.

Canadian Winner: Victor Avila – Birds of Spring

Victor is a performer, piano teacher, and piano collaborator who has achieved a wide piano repertoire, playing everything from Baroque to contemporary music styles throughout Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Victor holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music, a Diploma in Piano Performance, and a Master’s in Music. He studied with David Jalbert, Jorge Covarrubias, Rocio Benitez, Andre Laplante, Sara-Davis Buechner, Martin Karlicek, to name a few.
As a composer, he has received instruction from Jorge Gutierrez, Mario Aguilar, and Arturo Cuevas. He mainly focuses on polyphonic works exploring formal counterpoint. Victor is an active arranger and usually composes for his own piano students.
As a pedagogue, Victor is part of several associations such as ORMTA, CFMTA, Suzuki of Americas. He gives masterclasses, lectures, and presentations for all academic levels ranging from university to elementary. His students have excelled in competitions and festivals at branch, provincial, national, and international levels in both performance and composition. Victor’s performances, festivals, awards, and collaborations include: University of Guadalajara, University of Ottawa, Suzuki Association Ottawa-Gatineau, Orford music festival, Adamant music festival, Ottawa piano festival, Nuntempa, Sinaloa summer festival, Xalapa philharmonic, Zoya Solod award, Mitchell Sharp award, Mateo Oliva silver medal, Call of Compositions CFMTA, among others. Victor lives in Ottawa with his partner Sara, while keeping a busy teaching studio, collaborating in the local art scene, and taking care of his plants.

Honourable Mentions

1st runner-up: Ronald Hannah – A beam of Light from Star Songs #3

Canadian composer Ron Hannah (b. 1945) is an eclectic musician, finding inspiration in the classics and in travelling the world. He has taught English in China, backpacked across SE Asia, criss-crossed Australia in a camper van and has found musical ideas from all those cultures and places. At present he resides in Austria. He has Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Music degrees, and a Master of Music (1975) degree from the University of Alberta (student of Violet Archer, Manus Sasonkin and Malcolm Forsyth). He is a member of SOCAN (performing rights organisation), a composer affiliate of the Canadian Music Centre and of the Austrian Composers Association. His catalog is extensive – over 100 works: choral, chamber, solo, and orchestral, concertos,, symphonies, song cycles, ballets, operas and theatre pieces, the most recent being based on of the life of St. Gregory of Armenia, called “The Illuminator” – premiered in Yerevan in 2017. His music tends toward the conservative with a streak of Romanticism, a style that he describes as “dissonant pan-tonality”, but elements of the atonal, of textural writing, of minimalism, and of randomness can also be found, with the unending intention of being understood and enjoyed by an audience. He has received commissions from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Alberta Choral Federation, the Anahit Foundation (Yerevan, Armenia), and many individuals, including Wilma Maller of the Vienna State Opera. Some of his choral music has also been published by Performer’s Edition.

2nd runner-up: Emily Hiemstra – Jewess

Emily Hiemstra (b.1991) is a real life viola mom. She is a violist, composer, and mom to three boys under 4.

A JUNO nominated composer with music that has been deemed “superb” and “extremely resonant” (George Elliott Clarke, Canadian Poet Laureate), she has had her music performed at festivals throughout the UK, USA and Canada. Such festivals include the Impulse New Music Festival (Los Angeles, USA) and the Kirby Laing Centre for Public Theology (Cambridge, UK). Her orchestral and operatic background as a performer has deepened her understanding of colour and texture which she readily applies in her compositions to create clear and innovative works. Her desire is to create relevant and engaging music for the next generation and future generations to come.

A dedicated community member, Emily creates opportunities for new music such as the New Works for Solo Viola Project. She also strives to bring new music to a wider community through the In The Shadow of Your Wings concert series and performing family-friendly chamber concerts around the GTA. She also on the board of the Association of Canadian Women Composers as the Outreach & Publicity Officer.

As a violist she has performed at festivals around the world including Banff Centre for the Arts (Banff, CAN) and the German-Scandinavian Youth Orchestra (Berlin, GER). She performed the Stamitz Viola Concerto with the Charis Collective in 2017, and has played with ensembles such as the Canadian Opera Company and the Magisterra Soloists.

You can find her playing concerts around Toronto, ON or writing music when her boys are napping.