Dr. Symeon Waseen, assistant professor of music at Black Hills State University, has been chosen as the winner of the South Dakota Music Teacher’s Association (SDMTA) 2012 Composer Commissioning Project. His new composition will be premiered at the 2012 SDMTA annual conference which will be held in Spearfish.

John Walker, president of SDMTA, observed, "The South Dakota Music Teachers Association is proud to draw this year's commissioned composer from its own ranks. Dr. Waseen is new to SDMTA, and promises to become a valued artistic contributor to our organization and culture."

Waseen expressed his excitement about the award and the project. “I am enthusiastic to share my music through the SDMTA commissioning program,” Waseen said. “It’s wonderful that SDMTA is so supportive of composers and is dedicated to exposing students of all ages to new music.”
The Commissioning Project Committee, which consisted of Dr. Robert Vodnoy, chair, Anna Vorhes and Jim McInnes, committee members, was pleased to have received four excellent proposals. According to chairman Robert Vodnoy, choosing a winner among the many fine applications was challenging for the committee.

“The submitted compositions and proposals were all interesting and excellent, and covered a broad range of styles of composition. It was challenging to choose the winner out of so many worthy submissions,” Vodnoy said.

Waseen has been teaching piano, theory, and composition at BHSU since fall 2010. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in piano performance and composition from the University of Minnesota – Duluth and his master’s degree in composition from Bowling Green State University, Waseen earned his doctorate of musical arts from the Eastman School of Music.

In addition to composing, Waseen is a very active performer, specializing in music by contemporary composers, and has premiered several works written by himself and his colleagues. He has performed or premiered works at events such as the national SEAMUS conference, Heidelberg New Music Festival, Bowling Green New Music Festival, Western Illinois University New Music Festival, the international radio program “State of the Arts,” and has recently been awarded the Eastman School of Music "Wayne Brewster Barlow Prize" for his

Concerto for Voice and Voices. His Second Concertino for Piano and Chamber Ensemble was performed by the Dakota Chamber Orchestra at their spring concert in April 2011. Waseen composed that work for piano and orchestra; he performed on the piano, and was accompanied by two percussionists playing a variety of instruments including bass drum, timpani, vibraphone, snare drum, wood blocks, and many others.

The choice of text for the 2012 Commissioning Project was left to the discretion of the composer, with the guideline that the subject matter of the text or the author should have some connection to South Dakota. Waseen will work with another BHSU professor, Dr. David Cremean, associate professor of English, for the text.

“The text for the song cycle will also be new, written for this project by Black Hills poet and BHSU professor David Cremean. Expect a blend of the old and the new, and a few surprises. Since the commission mentioned the works of Schubert, you can expect he might make a few appearances in my music,” Waseen said.

A commission fee of $900 will be provided to Waseen, which will be jointly funded by SDMTA and the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA). SDMTA, through the committee, will print 100 copies of the work which will be available for purchase by the membership. Profits from the sale of this initial printing will be retained by SDMTA to help defray the cost of the project. After that, the composer may secure a publisher.

Nationally, MTNA is dedicated to encouraging the creation of new works by American composers and annually assists its affiliated state associations in the generation and performance of new music through the national composers commissioning program. A newly commissioned composition receives its premiere performance at the conference of the state MTNA that commissions the work. To further promote and recognize outstanding contributions to American music, MTNA annually has its state affiliates submit commissioned compositions to a panel of recognized composers for selection of the MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year. The new work of the selected composer is presented in a performance at the MTNA national conference, and the composer is proclaimed the MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year. The selected composer receives a $3,000 award.