Gardner Composition Competition

The American Viola Society congratulates the winners of the Maurice Gardner Competition for Composers 2020. The following composers have been named finalists of the 2020 Gardner Composition Competition. Excerpts or complete scores of their entries have been included in some cases. Please notify the composer of any of these works if you choose to program their music for any performance.

The AVS Gardner Composition Competition is a biennial competition for works featuring the viola. Currently, the first prize winner receives $1000 plus $500 to support travel to attend the American Viola Society Festival where their work will be performed, while the second prize winner receives $500.

2020 Laureates

Max Vinetz, First Prize Winner

Max Vinetz is a composer whose work has drawn inspiration from various
intersections between traditional, popular, and improvisatory forms and aesthetics.
Recent and upcoming projects are primarily concerned with the relationships
between narrative, object, and artifact as they relate to music and other media,
structures that circumvent linear narratives, and the relationship between virtuosity,
drama, and failure.

Max's works and have been performed and recorded by Arditti Quartet, Ensemble
Dal Niente, Ensemble for New Music Tallinn, Hear&Now, Copland House Chamber
Players, DeCoda, Mivos Quartet, unassisted fold, Yale Symphony Orchestra, New
York Youth Symphony, Icarus Duo, members of Yale Voxtet, and Yale Schola
Cantorum, among others. He is the founder of both New Music Cooperative at Yale
College and Yale Undergraduate Chamber Orchestra.

Max recently graduated from Yale University, earning a BA in Music with honors and
distinction. He is currently a graduate student (MM) in Composition and Brown
Foundation Fellow at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he teaches
theory and ear training in the preparatory division. He will begin his PhD in Music
Composition at Princeton University in the fall.

For more information, visit

Maxwell Lowery, Second Prize Winner

Maxwell Lowery is a versatile musician equally interested in music composition, theory,
performance, administration, and production. As an undergraduate student and
employee of the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM), he actively participates in all five
fields. His goal as a composer is to use performance experience and academic study to
inform and enhance his music. He prefers composing for ensembles that include the
viola, and two recent compositions—one for solo viola, and one for flute, viola, and
harp—have won awards.

As a violist, his focus in the last two years has turned to new music: he has premiered
works in several CIM composition department recitals, performed music by living
composers with the CIM orchestra, and is currently preparing his senior viola recital,
which will exclusively feature pieces written during his lifetime.
Maxwell is the first prize winner of the 2020 Cleveland Composer’s Guild Collegiate
Composition Contest, the second prize winner of the 2020 American Viola Society
Maurice Gardner Composition Competition, and the recipient of CIM’s 2019 Beth
Pearce Nelson Award for Music Theory.

“Nostalgia” (2019) is a single-movement, seven-minute work for solo viola that attempts
to capture the bittersweet emotions associated with childhood memories. It is dedicated
to violist Molly Wise, who can be heard in the sample recording below. The score is
available for purchase from the composer, who may be contacted at


Christopher Farrell, Honorable Mention

Christopher Farrell is a violist and has been a member of the Nashville Symphony since 1999.
He received a Bachelor of Music from the University of North Texas under the tutelage of Dr.
George Papich, and a Master of Music degree from Indiana University as a student of Atar
Arad. Other important teachers include Laura Altz and Connie Brouillette.

As a member of Alias Chamber Ensemble, Christopher can be heard on Alias' CDs Amorisms,
Boiling Point: Music of Kenji Bunch, and the Grammy Nominated album Gabriela Lena Frank:
. In addition to performing with the Nashville Symphony and Alias Chamber Ensemble,
Christopher is an active studio musician and can be heard on numerous albums by an eclectic
range of recording artists.

Christopher's compositions have been performed in Alias Chamber Ensemble season concerts
at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music and Nashville Symphony OnStage performances
at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. In 2015, Christopher was awarded a Bonnaroo
Works/Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee Grant by the Metro Nashville Arts
Commission for the creation and recording of Needle and Thread, Trio for Flute, Viola and Harp.
Christopher lives in Nashville, TN, with his family and Goldendoodle Percy.

For more information, visit


Will Rowe, Honorable Mention

Will Rowe (b. 1992) is a composer of classical music from Oxford, Michigan. Early into
his career, his works are receiving performances both in the U.S. and internationally by
such ensembles as the Camerata Silesia Katowice, ensemble mise - en, and the Seattle
Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra. He is a graduate from Indiana University Jacobs
School of Music’s M.M. in Composition program, and served as the Assistant Director of
their New Music Ensemble during his time there. Currently, Will lives in New York City,
where he works as the Associate Director of American Composers Alliance and curates
risk - taking contemporary chamber music with Seth Boustead in their concert series,
Concept Lab.

Jordan Alexander Key, Honorable Mention

Jordan Alexander Key (b. 1990), blind, gay composer of sacred atheist music, currently
pursues his PhD in composition and musicology at the University of Florida. He earned
bachelor’s degrees in music composition, mathematics, and philosophy from The College of
Wooster (2013), as well as a master’s degree in music composition from the University of
Arizona (2015). His significant recent projects include his Kennedy Center premier of his
ballet, To Say Pi ; his residency at the Harn Museum of Art and the production of music for
its various exhibitions including his sextet, Verses from the Scroll of Sondering, and his
Black-MIDI dance, Nachi No Taki; his European premier with Vienna’s PHACE Ensemble
performing his octet, Threnody on the Death of Children; a performance by Boston String
Quartet of his String Quartet No. 1; a concert with Bold City Contemporary Ensemble
performing both his trio, March for the 12th Hour, and his quintet, Discursus Anachronismus;
a collaboration with the Vancouver Queer Arts Festival and Calliope’s Call for the premiers
of his atheist songs, God Ourselves and Last Night I Touched Him; and the display of his
recent audio-visual projects as part of the Wolfsburg Kunstmuseum’s new exhibit, Never
Ending Stories: The Loop in Art, Film, Architecture, and Music
, in Germany. Jordan gives
regular concerts on his two instruments: the pipe organ and bagpipes. His performance
repertoire focuses primary on music from the Middle Ages, Early Renaissance, and Early
Baroque. He is also an active musicologist, focusing on music of the 14 th , 15 th , and 20 th

For more information on Jordan Alexander Key and for recent recordings of his works or
information on his research, see his website, , or search for
his work on his YouTube channel, “Jordan Alexander Key.”