The Fischoff National Chamber Music Association is holding its 49th annual competition from May 20-22. This year marks the arrival of a new category, the Lift Every Voice prize, awarded to an ensemble in the senior division with the best performance of a chamber music piece written by a composer from a historically underrepresented background.
The eventual prize winners will be the stars of the show at the Fischoff’s inaugural Lift Every Voice soirée, hosted at IU South Bend on Friday, May 20.
The new category was made available as an option to all senior division ensembles competing in this year’s event. The groups submitted pre-recorded performances of the compositions, and those videos have now been adjudicated by the Fischoff’s panelists. The inaugural prize is focused on performances of works by Black and/or Hispanic, Latino or Latina composers. Future years will look to highlight additional underrepresented groups.
The Lift Every Voice events begin at noon on Friday, when fischoff.org will present streaming performances of all the finalists, so that viewers can choose their own favorites.
“Before the winners are announced, people will see the performances of all the competitors, so there’s an element of suspense,” said Kara Kane, the Fischoff’s executive director. “The winners and runners-up will be announced at the end of our virtual concert, around one o’clock on Friday. Both groups will then play at the live event Friday night.”
The soirée starts at 7 p.m. at IU South Bend’s Louise E. Addicott & Yatish J. Joshi Performance Hall, and it is free and open to the public.
Alfred J. Guillaume and Melanie Smith-Guillaume have pledged to sponsor the Lift Every Voice prize for its first three years. Alfred Guillaume, who served as executive vice chancellor of academic affairs at IUSB from 1999-2013, is also a longtime Fischoff board member.
“At the soirée, Alfred Guillaume will speak first, talking about the genesis of the prize, and then (professor of music and interim dean at the Raclin School of the Arts) Jorge Muñiz will make the introductory remarks,” Kane said. “Then the musicians will play their pieces.”
The soirée concludes with a Q&A session, moderated by Kane.
The Lift Every Voice winners will perform again at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the gold medal concert, hosted at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.
WNIT-TV will also rebroadcast the Lift Every Voice soirée events in June as part of the station’s Arts @ IU South Bend series.