Concordia University Irvine Graduate Named Winner of National Composition Contest

Owen Duncan ’20 named winner of the 2020 Hillert Award Composition

Dr. Ray Halm

Owen Duncan '20

SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 Irvine, CA—The Center for Church Music in partnership with the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (ALCM) has announced the winners of the 2020 Richard Hillert Award in Student Composition. With a tie this year, winners include Owen Duncan, a 2020 graduate of Concordia University Irvine (CUI) for “I Am Still Seeking You,” a setting for SATB choir, clarinet and piano, and Thomas Johnson of Concordia University Nebraska for his women’s choir anthem “Closet Prayer,” using a poem from fellow student Carrie Black.

The award honors the legacy of Concordia University Chicago distinguished professor of music Dr. Richard Hillert. His contributions include liturgical pieces, musical works, as well as his gifts for teaching composition. The award is given every other year to a current student at a Lutheran university or seminary.

A cash prize of $500 will be awarded to the winners at the ALCM biennial conference which may also include a performance of the works as part of the program. Winners receive travel assistance to the formal banquet announcement at the annual Lectures in Church Music at Concordia University Chicago, as well as the ALCM conference. Entries of church music composition three to five minutes in length suitable for a liturgical service were judged by a panel of judges.

Past winners include Philip Biedenbender of St. Olaf College in 2016 for his work titled “And You Will Sleep” which has since been published by Earthsongs. Honorable mention went to Scott Gercken for his “Psalm and Hymn for the Evening Service.” In 2018, a tie produced two winners—Austin Theriot of Concordia University Nebraska for his “Psalm 8” composition, and David Gilson of Concordia University Chicago for his “Isaiah 12” composition.

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