Professional Division Winners

The competition winners have gone on to distinguished careers as soloists, chamber and orchestra musicians, and teachers. Here are some of their stories.

At the first competition in 1976, Steve Gross, a senior at the University of Michigan and member of the Flint Symphony, won first prize, and Ralph Lockwood of the Cleveland Orchestra placed second. Steve was given a check for $500 and both soloed with the Opus One Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Higgins.

The 1977 Competition was noted as much for its off-stage adventures as its musical excellence. The automobile driven by Lowell Greer, with fellow contestants R.J. Kelly, Rick Seraphinoff, and Richard Goldfaden as passengers, experienced a clogged fuel filter. Greer, who later won the contest, bravely siphoned gasoline into his automobile and arrived in time to participate. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reviewer, apparently aware of the escapade, titled the review "Horn Finalist Zooms to Finish" and noted the "high octane competition."

Greer has succeeded as an orchestral player, chamber musician, recording artist, soloist, educator, and horn maker. He played with the Detroit Symphony, the Mexico City Philharmonic, the Royal Flemish Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony, and the Toledo Symphony. As soloist, Greer has performed on natural and modern horn with some 50 orchestras as well as at numerous chamber music venues. His discography is extensive. He has taught at Wheaton College, Oakland University, Interlochen Arts Academy, School for Perfection in Mexico City, University of Cincinnati, University of Michigan, and the Carl Neilsen Academy in Odense. He has won seven first prizes at six international horn competitions.

David Reiswig (US Navy Band in Washington DC) won the 1978 Professional Division. He performed with the US Navy Band in Washington DC, Kansas City Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony, Evansville Philharmonic, Owensboro Symphony, and Saint Louis Symphony. He taught at Murray State University, University of Nebraska, and University of Evansville. Sadly, he died in 2002 from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

The 1978 Competition included a Natural Horn Division, won by Jean Rife. As part of the prize, she was given a McCracken natural horn. Rife, who teaches horn at MIT and New England Conservatory, is former principal horn with Boston Baroque and the Rhode Island Philharmonic, and has performed with Cantata Singers, the Boston Pops, Boston Ballet Orchestra, Boston Musica Viva, Alea III, and Dinosaur Annex.

In 1979, the Professional and Natural Horn divisions were joined by a Competition for Horn Quartet. Corbin Wagner, who joined the Detroit Symphony after completing his Bachelors degree, accomplished the unique feat of winning all three divisions!  Wagner’s winning quartet also included Jennifer Burch, Louis Stout, Jr., and Bryan Kennedy. Wagner also performs with the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings and is adjunct professor at Oakland University.

The 1980 Heldenleben Competition at the College of William and Mary, near Williamsburg, was won by Gail Williams, who was a member of the Chicago Symphony (1978-1998). She teaches at Northwestern University, is principal horn of the Teton Music Festival Orchestra, and is a founding member of Summit Brass.

The highest award given in 1981 in the Professional Division was second prize, which went to Laura Klock, now horn professor at the University of Massachusetts, where she is a member of the Avanti Wind Quintet, Infinity Brass Quintet, and Springfield Symphony Orchestra.

The 1981 Natural Horn prize was awarded to Rick Seraphinoff, who teaches valve and natural horn at Indiana University. As a natural hornist, he has performed with virtually every Baroque and Classical orchestra in the US. He has appeared as soloist at the Aston Magna Festival, with the Vancouver CBC Orchestra, Bloomington Early Music Festival Orchestra, and with La Stagione and Ensemble Metamorphosis in Germany. He has written natural horn articles for the several journals, has appeared on numerous recordings, and is a maker of Baroque and Classical natural horns.

In the west, Kristen Thelander won the first American Horn Competition in 1981. Thelander has been horn professor at the University of Iowa and is now Director of the School of Music. She performs with the Iowa Woodwind Quintet and has recorded solo and chamber music extensively. She has served as an IHS Advisory Council member, Secretary-Treasurer, and Vice-President.

Jeffry Kirschen (a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra) won the 1983 competition. He has been a guest artist at numerous horn conferences, is an active recitalist, and performs with the Lenape Chamber Players, 1807 & Friends, and on the Philadelphia Orchestra Chamber Music Series. He teaches at Temple University, Rowan University, and the New York Summer School for the Arts.

In 1983 Lowell Greer and R.J. Kelley won the Double Concerto Division. Kelley plays Broadway shows and with the New York Philharmonic, NY City Opera, NY City Ballet, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Orpheus, and Aspen Wind Quintet. With over 50 CDs to his credit, he has performed and recorded as guest artist of the Royal Court Theater Orchestra at Drottingholm, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, Musica Antiqua St. Petersburg, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, CBC Vancouver, Korean Chamber Ensemble, and the Mexico City Philharmonic.

Lowell Greer won first prize again in the 1985 Professional Division and Javier Bonet Manrique won the Natural Horn Division. Bonet Manrique is active as a valve and natural horn soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe. He has recorded sonatas for the fortepiano with natural horn and his ensemble of natural horns, Corniloquio, has recorded two CDs.

Eric Ruske won the 1987 Professional Division. He is on the faculty of Boston University and directs the Horn Seminar at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Ruske joined the Cleveland Orchestra at the age of 20, then toured with the Empire Brass Quintet. His solo career began when he won the 1986 Young Concert Artists International Auditions and the 1988 Concours International d’Interprétation Musicale in Reims, France. Ruske has recorded the Mozart horn concerti and performed as a soloist with numerous orchestras including the Baltimore Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Shanghai Radio Broadcast Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, European Camerata, San Diego Symphony, Boston Pops Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, and Israel Chamber Orchestra.

Douglas Lundeen won the Natural Horn Division in 1987. He is a professor at Rutgers University, principal horn of the Princeton Symphony, and has recorded on many labels. He has appeared as soloist with orchestras in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and New Jersey, and has been a recitalist at international conferences. He has played principal horn with original instrument orchestras in New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. On the valve horn, he has played principal horn with orchestras in Costa Rica, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh, and on Broadway.

Karl Pituch won the Professional Division in 1989. He is principal horn of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and was previously with the Dallas Symphony, Honolulu Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, and Chautauqua Festival Orchestra. He has served as a guest principal horn for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, and the Grand Teton Festival Orchestra. As a soloist, Pituch has performed with orchestras in Japan, Hawaii, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ohio, Florida, and Michigan.

The highest award given in 1989 in the Natural Horn Division was second prize, which was shared by Michelle Stebleton and Willard Zirk.  Stebleton teaches horn at Florida State University and performs with the Florida State Brass Quintet and Tallahassee Symphony. Her horn duo MirrorImage has recorded a CD. Willard Zirk is a professor at Eastern Michigan University and played with the Ann Arbor Symphony and Eastern Winds. He played in period instrument groups including Tafelmusik, Apollo's Fire, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Classical Band, and the Grande Bande.

William Barnewitz won the 1991 Professional Division. Barnewitz is principal horn of the Milwaukee Symphony and the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra. He has served as guest principal horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, and St. Louis Symphony. He is on the faculty of Northwestern University, and has taught at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and Lawrence University. He has recorded two CDs.

Jeffrey Snedeker was co-winner for First Place in the Natural Horn Division in 1991. He is professor of horn at Central Washington University, and principal horn with the Yakima Symphony. Dr. Snedeker has published over 50 articles, including seven entries in the second edition of The New Grove Dictionary. He was elected President of International Horn Society in 2006, and re-elected in 2008. In addition, he has released two solo recordings, the first on the early valved and natural horns, and the second a jazz CD.

The other co-winner of the Natural Horn Division was Javier Bonet-Manrique.  Javier is a leading Spanish period instrument specialist and published authority.  He performs regularly with original instrument ensembles Les Concerts des Nations and El Concierto Espanol.  He has also won natural horn prizes in competitions at Bad Harzburg, Porcia, Rheims, and Toulon.

The 1994 Professional Division winner was David Thompson. Thompson is principal horn of the Barcelona Symphony, has performed as solo horn of the Teatre Lliure Chamber Orchestra, and collaborates with the contemporary music ensemble Barcelona 216.  He is solo horn and artistic coordinator for the Navarra Symphony Orchestra of Pamplona and been elected vice-president of the IHS.  In 1989 he was the performance competition winner at the Munich International Horn Symposium and the 1995 Festival Prize for the Most Artistic Interpretation at the International Competition for Wind Instruments (Leeuwarden).  Thompson is professor at the Escuela Superior de Música de Cataluña and has served on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and School.  He is the author of two pedagogical texts: Daily Warm-Up and Workout (1994) and The Orchestral Audition Repertoire for Horn: Comprehensive and Unabridged (1995). Thompson is also the founder and moderator of the Yahoo horn list.

The first non-American to win the Professional Division Competition was Hungarian László Seeman, who won in 1997. He also won the National Conservatory Competition-Miskolc (1993), then in France at Toulon, and the ARD Competition in Munich.  In 2003 a medical condition forced him to resign his post with the Northern German Radio Symphony Orchestra-Hamburg and the Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra. He has taught at the Egressy Béni Conservatory of Music-Csepel and the St. István Király Conservatory of Music.  He continues an active career as a teacher and coach.

Tod Bowermaster (third horn of the Saint Louis Symphony) won the 1999 Professional Division. He is a lecturer at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis. Bowermaster has been a member of the Honolulu Symphony and Lyric Opera of Chicago. He was in a chamber ensemble that won the 1982 Coleman Competition and regularly performs chamber music at summer festivals.

Andrew Pelletier (Bowling Green State University) won the 2001 Professional Division. He is principal horn of the Ann Arbor Symphony. Pelletier is a member of Southwest Chamber Music, which won a 2005 Grammy Award for Best Classical Recording (small ensemble category). He has played with the Michigan Opera Theatre, Ann Arbor Ballet Theatre, Michigan Symphonietta, Long Beach Camerata, Maine Chamber Ensemble, and Portland (Maine) Ballet. He is a member of the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival Orchestra and, as a freelance hornist in Los Angeles, he can be heard on film soundtracks and in movies for Lifetime TV and the Sci-Fi Channel.

Thomas Jöstlein (University of Illinois) won the 2003 Professional Division. Previously, he held positions with the New York Philharmonic, Honolulu, Omaha, Richmond, and Kansas City Symphonies, and taught at the University of Hawaii and Virginia Commonwealth University. He won the grand prize at the 2005 Hugo Kauder Music Competition at Yale University.

In 2005 Jesse McCormick won second prize, the highest awarded that year in the Professional Division. McCormick is second horn of the Cleveland Orchestra and performs with The Denver Brass and Colorado Symphony.  He has participated in Festival of the Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz. He was the Jon Hawkins Scholarship winner at the 1998 International Horn Symposium.

In 2007, the Professional Division was won by Kevin Rivard, who plays with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.  He won the grand prize and audience choice award at the 2008 Concours International d’Interprétation Musicale in Paris. Prior appointments include the Florida Orchestra and Colorado Symphony. While at Juilliard, he appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Les Miserables on Broadway.

The 2009 Professional First Prize was awarded to Geoffrey Pilkington. He was awarded a full-scholarship to attend The Juilliard School. In his 4th year he moved to London to study with Richard Watkins and Michael Thompson at the Royal Academy of Music.  In 2004, Mr. Pilkington was appointed to the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra.  Performance opportunities have included the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, St. Luke's Chamber Orchestra, Florida Orchestra, shows on Broadway, Boston Brass, and The Washington Symphonic brass. He was a fellowship winner at the Music Academy of the West, The Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi. Geoff also taught at the Eastern Music Festival. Prior to this year, he was featured as soloist with both The Florida Orchestra and the Tampa Symphony.

The 2011 Professional winner was Anthony Delivanis. Born in Palo Alto, California, Delivanis recently completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California, where he studied with James Thatcher and Steve Becknell. He has played with the New World Symphony, Music Academy of the West Festival Orchestra, Colburn Symphony Orchestra, USC Symphony Orchestra, Opera Orchestra, and Chamber Orchestra. In the fall, Anthony will join the New World Symphony as a horn fellow. In addition to his studies at Thornton, he is a member of the American Youth Symphony and the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra, and has participated in the Debut orchestra’s first tour to China in December 2011.