Composition Competition Winner 2020


International Winner:

Bracha Bdil
(Jerusalem, Isreal)

Winning piece:
My Snowman

Bracha Bdil, composer, conductor and pianist, has a Master’s degree in Music Education and Composition from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. Bracha was awarded the 2019-2020 ACUM Award, won the first prize in the Wolf Durmashkin Composition Award, Germany (2018), and the first prize in the Yardena Alotin Composition Competition, Bar-Ilan University, Israel (2016). Her repertoire includes orchestral music, chamber, vocal and electronic music, as well as music for dance and theatre. Bracha Bdil is a member of the Israel Composers’ League and her works are published by the Israel Music Institute. Her compositions are performed in Israel and around the world. Starting from season 2018-19 Bracha is the artistic director and chief conductor of the Zmora Women’s Orchestra in Jerusalem.


Canadian Winner:

Sointu Aalto
(Edmonton, Alberta)

Winning piece:
Yösinfonia, 1

Described as a mature, delightful musician with flair, Sointu Aalto is a passionate cellist and composer. Her music is characterised by intensely chaotic atmospheres and disturbing beauty. She studies cello with Josephine van Lier, post-serialist avant-garde with Heather Hindman, is a member of the Edmonton Youth Orchestra and actively plays chamber music. Her passion is her driving motivation to work hard and always face new challenges. As an artist, her objectives are to spread love for contemporary classical music, to stretch the boundaries of art to maximize expression, and to eliminate prejudice through contemporary art. Sointu has received many awards for both composition and performance excellence from associations including: ACNMP, ARMTA, Contemporary Showcase Edmonton, Victoria Foundation for the Arts, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, The Gramophone, Bella Music, and EYO.


Honorable Mentions

Robert McIntyre
(Melbourne, Australia)
A Sea Spray of Ash

Robert McIntyre, composer & flautist, is currently studying a Bachelor of Music (Honours) at the University of Melbourne specialising in Composition, after one year in Classical Flute Performance under the direction of Margaret Crawford. He is currently under the tutelage of Stuart Greenbaum, and has learnt under Katy Abbott, Miriama Young, Elliott Gyger, and Melody Eötvös. He is one of four inaugural composers commissioned for Divisi Chamber Singers’ 2020 “Compose Queer” Initiative. Robert has been internationally selected into the ICEBERG New Music Institute taking place in Austria, where he will write a work for Trio Immersio to be workshopped by guest composer Oscar Bianchi and the Institute Faculty. It will be premiered and recorded at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. He has partaken in Candlelight VOX’s 2019 Composition Call for Scores, as well as having a work selected for a 2020 program by Collide Trio. Robert is ecstatic to have had works workshopped by guitarist Ken Murray, saxophonist Joseph Lallo, Syzygy Ensemble, and to have two upcoming workshops with pianist/composer Sally Whitwell (2020).

Zach Gulaboff Davis
(Jersey City, NJ)
The Wood Road

Described as ‘beautiful, lyrical’ and brimming with ‘unexpected harmonic shifts’ (International Trumpet Guild), the music of Zach Gulaboff Davis centers on the core elements of musical narrative: Emotion, drama, and expression. The winner of the 2019 American Prize in Composition (Vocal Chamber Music division), Zach maintains an active schedule as a composer and collaborator across the globe. His works have been performed in venues including Carnegie Hall, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, Bulgaria’s National Palace of Culture, Norway’s Arctic Cathedral, Hamburg’s Zinnschmelze Cultural Center, NYU Steinhardt and Shanghai, the DiMenna Center, International Trumpet Guild and National Saxophone Alliance conferences, and at schools and conservatories throughout the country. Since beginning compositional studies in 2013, his works have garnered over 20 national and international awards. With degrees in composition from Mannes College of Music and the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, Zach is also active as a pianist and conductor, having appeared as concerto soloist, chamber musician, solo recitalist, and champion of young composers’ works on the podium. In his spare time, Zach is active in American Kennel Club dog sports, traveling the country as a licensed Dog Agility judge. Don’t ask him about the (countless) similarities between composing and designing Agility courses unless you have hours to spare!

Emily Hiemstra
(Toronto, ON)
Come, rest awhile

Emily Hiemstra is a Toronto violist and composer. She has performed around the world in Brazil, Germany, India & the USA with orchestras and chamber ensembles. She is the artistic director of the Charis Collective chamber ensemble in Toronto, ON. As a composer, her piece I Asked of God was nominated for a JUNO on the album A Canadian Mass: Sacred Reflections of Canada by the Canadian Chamber Choir in 2016. She has an affinity for writing choral pieces, but her works have been performed among others by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Corriolis Brass and the Laurier Wind Orchestra. She was most recently commissioned by Grace Centre for the Arts to write an oratorio on the book of Romans that was performed in October 2019.

Geoff Li
(Edmonton, AB)
To One in Paradise

Geoff Li is a composer for concert and video games based in Edmonton, AB. Born in Daqing, China in 1994 to Korean parents and immigrating to Canada at a young age, he began receiving guitar instruction from the age of 10 and later discovered an affinity for composing. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music composition from MacEwan University, and is currently studying with Vince Ho. Geoff has been commissioned by various Albertan groups, including the Obsessions String Quartet, WindRose Trio, the C’mon Festival, among others. Besides composing, he plays guitar in electronic/progressive rock project Ways in Waves. Being a composer who mostly freelances, Geoff’s lifestyle hasn’t changed much with the social distancing phenomenon, and has actually seen more friends lately with all the Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic: The Gathering he’s been playing over video chat.