According to a school release, the American Prize is a series of nonprofit competitions designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, ensembles, and composers in the United States based on submitted recordings.
The St. Olaf Orchestra, which is directed by Steven Amundson, bested the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra and the Mannes Orchestra, among other ensembles, to take this year’s top prize, the release said:
“It’s humbling to think that this liberal arts college orchestra can compete favorably with so many reputable conservatory and university programs,” Amundson said. “We at St. Olaf are blessed with an amazing community of gifted and devoted students who embrace music-making as an embodiment of our shared humanity. I believe this enables a certain depth of spirit, passion, and emotional conviction that is rare in college orchestras. My students are a daily source of inspiration, and I’m so proud of them."
The 92-member orchestra is comprised of all undergraduate students, and has been touring annually for nearly 65 years.