Baylor Symphony Orchestra Receives National Award

Baylor Symphony Orchestra
Baylor Symphony Orchestra courtesy photo.
Oct. 9, 2013

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WACO, Texas (Oct. 9, 2013) - Baylor football isn't the only team making headlines for outstanding performance these days. The Baylor Symphony Orchestra has received a Special Judges' Citation for Technical and Musical Excellence in the college division from The American Prize competition.

The American Prize, founded in 2009, is a series of nonprofit competitions designed to recognize and award the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the United States based on submitted recordings.

The recording submitted by Baylor Symphony Conductor Stephen Heyde last spring showcased the group's 2012-2013 performances of Strauss's "Don Juan," Debussy's "La Mer" and Theofanidis' "Rainbow Body."

Heyde said the recording submission was the result of a friend's suggestion after listening to a Baylor Symphony concert.

"I knew we had an excellent orchestra at Baylor and if nothing else, it (a submission) would give me a benchmark for how we stacked up against other fine collegiate orchestras," he said.

The American Prize judges apparently also thought the orchestra was excellent, placing the Baylor Symphony in the top six of all university orchestra submissions. Judges' comments included the words "fluent," "remarkable," and "confident" to describe the orchestra's playing.

"At first, I was a bit disappointed that we hadn't placed in the top three nationally, but then I was pleased," Heyde said. "It has provided the benchmark I was wanting: recognition for excellence but motivation to continue to improve."

David Katz, chief judge of the competition, believes in recognizing excellent performers at all levels and from varied backgrounds.

"Quality in the arts is not limited to the coasts, familiar names or graduates of the most famous schools," he said. "It is on view all over the United States if you take the time to look for it. The American Prize exists to encourage that excellence."

Heyde is thankful for the organization's mission to recognize musical quality, especially in a society he believes places the arts in the shadow of athletics.

"I support the goals and mission of The American Prize to bring some recognition to arts organizations in a society that tends to ignore them," he said. "Is talent, sacrifice, dedication and hard work only recognized and worthy of celebration if it happens on athletic fields?"

The question is one that brings to mind the future of the arts and their presence in society.

"If we don't start to celebrate all the types of gifts God has created and bestowed on humanity, we will begin to lose these endeavors as the rewards for pursuing them diminish," he said. "It will be a scary world if we don't encourage those with deep and insightful intellectual abilities."

For a schedule of 2013-2014 Baylor Symphony Orchestra performances, visit the Baylor School of Music webpage.

by Kristen Bennett, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


The Baylor University School of Music provides transformational experiences that prepare students for careers in music. Our students thrive in a Christian environment characterized by a nurturing resident faculty, an unwavering pursuit of musical excellence, a global perspective, dedication to service, and devotion to faith. They investigate the rich musical and cultural heritage of the past, develop superior musical skills and knowledge in the present, and explore and create new modes of musical expression for the future. While preparing for future leadership roles, the students join with School of Music faculty in enhancing the quality of community life, enriching the larger culture, and making Baylor a place in which heart, mind and soul coalesce. The School of Music of Baylor University is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music and the Texas Association of Music Schools. Degree programs leading to the bachelor of music education degree conform to certification requirements of the Texas Education Agency.

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