Collage of Photos from School of Fine and Performing Arts

Press Releases

Kenneth Davenport National Competition for Orchestral Works Announces Winner - Hudson Valley Philharmonic to perform work November 17-19, 2000

Bookmark and Share


NEW PALTZ -- NEW PALTZ - With fifty-seven entries from twenty states, including Alaska and Hawaii, the School of Fine & Performing Arts at SUNY New Paltz is pleased to announce that composer Lawrence Widdoes is the winner of the 2000 Kenneth Davenport National Competition for Orchestral Works.

Through this award, Widdoes will receive a $5,000 prize, serve as Composer-in-Residence in the SUNY New Paltz Department of Music, and his composition "At The Tomb of Abelard and Heloise" will be performed by the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, conducted by Randall Craig Fleischer at three venues in the Hudson Valley on the weekend of November 17-19, 2000.

Lawrence Widdoes resides in New York City where he has been a Professor of Music at The Juilliard School since 1965. Widdoes has received grants and awards from the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. Most recently, he has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in composition for the year 1998-99. He is quite familiar with the Hudson Valley; his wife's family has owned a home in West Hurley, New York since the 1970s.

Widdoes' composition "At The Tomb of Abelard and Heloise" was written in 1996 after he and his wife visited Europe and the great cemetery of Pere Lachaise in Paris. "Upon leaving the cemetery we noticed, at the end of a long allée, the fenced-in tomb of Abelard and Heloise," Widdoes recalls. "I was struck by the beautiful life-size sculptures of the two reposing atop the tomb. Other than the fact that they had one of the great and tragic love affairs of all time, I knew little about them. In my research, I was compelled by the brutality visited upon a man who dared to challenge the long-ingrained conservative thinking of his day."

The Kenneth Davenport National Competition for Orchestral Works honors the generous philanthropist and advocate for regional and national music and culture. It was established in 1985 by the School of Fine & Performing Arts at SUNY New Paltz and the Davenport Family. This major competition for United States composers invites submissions of new, unrecorded works. Formerly, the winning composition was performed at the Music in the Mountains Summer Festival at SUNY New Paltz.

In 2000, expanded venues and a new collaboration with the historic Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie, New York have increased the regional and national stature of the competition. This partnership, which aligns two major educational and cultural institutions, marks a new chapter in the history of this distinguished national competition, and significantly enhances the cultural life of the region.

Judges for the Davenport Competition were composer and conductor George Tsontakis, and Ping Jin, composer and Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition, SUNY New Paltz. Although scores were reviewed anonymously and independently, Widdoes' composition was the unanimous choice of the judges, who were impressed with the depth and creativity of the work.

"The music has a wide dynamic range and clarity of expression," said Tsontakis. "It is a well-conceived work. The orchestration is colorful and often very vivid and emotional."

Dr. Jin added, "The orchestration and use of instruments is not only skillful, it is just right for the melodic line. The music is energetic and the composer's use of percussion instruments is especially impressive."

The Hudson Valley Philharmonic, conducted by Randall Craig Fleischer, will perform "At The Tomb of Abelard and Heloise" on a program titled "Originals" during the weekend of November 17-19, 2000. Performance times and locations are: Friday, November 17 8:00 PM Julien J. Studley Theatre, SUNY New Paltz Saturday, November 18 8:00 PM Bardavon, Poughkeepsie Sunday, November 19 3:00 PM Aquinas Hall, Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh

A pre-concert talk, beginning one hour before curtain, precedes each performance. Tickets to the concerts are available through the Bardavon Box Office (845) 473-2072 and TicketMaster.

As Composer-in-Residence in the SUNY New Paltz Department of Music, Widdoes will participate in a Composers Forum on Tuesday, November 14 at 8 p.m. that is free and open to all. Additionally, he will offer master classes with music theory and composition students at SUNY New Paltz and Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, and will meet informally with students and faculty.

Previous Winners of the Kenneth Davenport National Competition for Orchestral Works Donald Crockett 1998 Daniel T. Denver 1997 George Arasimowicz 1996 Lansing D. McLoskey 1995 Donald Crockett 1994 Eleanor Cory 1993 No Prize Awarded 1992 Peter Hamlin 1991 William Coble 1990 Michael Gandolfi 1989 Vittorio Rieti 1988 Robert Dix 1987 Alexandra Pierce 1986 Michael Schelle 1985

Lawrence Widdoes Biography

Born in 1932 in Wilmington, Delaware, Lawrence Widdoes attended The Juilliard School where he studied with Bernard Wagenaar, William Bergsma, and Vincent Persichetti, eventually receiving B.S. and M.S. degrees in composition. He has been a member of the Literature and Materials of Music faculty at The Juilliard School since 1965.

Widdoes has composed numerous chamber and orchestral works, which have been widely performed. He has also composed a one-act opera titled "How To Make Love," to a libretto by his wife, writer Cathalene C. Widdoes. The opera, with three performances conducted by Glen Cortese, was premiered in January of 1994 and received excellent press reviews.

Widdoes' numerous awards include the publication award from The Society for the Publication of American Music for his Sonatina for flute and piano; The Rudolf Nissim Award through ASCAP for an orchestral work titled "Memento Mori"; and a 1976 Bi-Centenial Year commission from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for "Crossing," a work for double chorus and orchestra. The National Orchestral Association chose his work, "The Visitors," for performance in Carnegie Hall in 1990 under the direction of Jorge Mester.

Widdoes has been the recipient of grants from the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, from whom he received a second award in 1992 to compose his Symphony No. 4, subtitled "Castles." Two of his orchestral works, "At The Tomb of Abelard and Heloise" (winner of the Davenport Competition) and "Reservations" were premiered in 1997 at the Manhattan School of Music, conducted by Glen Cortese. Recently, Widdoes was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in composition.

- 30 -

Note to Editors: Lawrence Widdoes is available for telephone interviews and will be at SUNY New Paltz on November 14 for in-person interviews. A photo of Mr. Widdoes will be available on the SUNY New Paltz web site. This photo can be mailed or e-mailed to you - please contact David Cavallaro at 845/ 257-3872, or

SUNY New Paltz is a university of nearly 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students located in the Mid-Hudson Valley halfway between New York City and Albany. SUNY New Paltz is committed to providing high quality, affordable education to students from all social and economic backgrounds. For more information about the university, visit its web site at