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Xavier Muzik Announced as Winner of Third Annual Emerging Black Composers Project Prize, Now Known as Michael Morgan Prize

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Muzik will receive a $15,000 commission and mentorship, and his piece will premiere with the San Francisco Symphony during the 2024-2025 season. This award will now be called the Michael Morgan Prize in honor of the late maestro.

June 1, 2023 by Mark Taylor

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), in partnership with the San Francisco Symphony and the SFCM President’s Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion, announced today that Xavier Muzik is the winner of the third annual Emerging Black Composers Project (EBCP) prize. The San Francisco Symphony, led by Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, will give the world premiere of his work during the 2024-2025 season.

In addition to announcing Muzik as the newest winner, the EBCP award will now be called the Michael Morgan Prize. Morgan was music director of the Oakland Symphony and the first chair and co-founder of the EBCP before he died in 2021. Morgan was dedicated to music education and a believer in the power of music to change communities for the better.

“The Oakland Symphony is thrilled to have this prize named after Michael Morgan. This project was extremely important to him as a lifelong champion of living, lost, and underrepresented composers. He will forever be our guiding light and force behind those values we continue to uplift as an orchestra. With this new honor, he will aptly live on in the notes of every prize winning composer,” said Oakland Symphony Executive Director Dr. Mieko Hatano.

As winner of the Michael Morgan Prize, Muzik will receive a $15,000 commissioning fee, mentorship from committee members, and resources to workshop his piece with SFCM, along with a premiere of the work at Davies Symphony Hall. Muzik joins Jens Ibsen, Trevor Weston, Sumi Tonooka, Jonathan Bingham, and Shawn Okpebholo as winners of the ten-year project.

Xavier Muzik is a Los Angeles based composer whose music is known for its driving nature and rich harmonic language. He aspires to increase the reach of contemporary concert music to more people of color and people of varying social and economic classes with the goal of making the world of contemporary concert music a more inclusive one, which he believes is key to the future of the genre. 

“Music is history and music is culture. Composition is the practice of balancing these forces through creation, which has, for me, helped enlighten my identity. And I’m so grateful for this opportunity to continue that practice in collaboration with the amazing people, players, and administrators of these fine institutions,” said Muzik.

Muzik was selected as the winner through an anonymous review process overseen by a selection committee led by EBCP Chair Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser and including SFCM Music Director Edwin Outwater and Salonen.

"We are extremely happy with our winner this year and were unified in our approval of Xavier Musik's work. It was my pleasure to let him know he won and receive his heartfelt and surprised reaction. It was also my pleasure to communicate to him our wholehearted enthusiasm for his work. We are very much looking forward not only to the work that he will create for the commission, but to working with him as he develops relationships with the many orchestras that will invariably want to collaborate with him,” said Bartholomew-Poyser.

“Xavier's music has great depth and drama, and really digs into big orchestral sounds and gestures. I'm really looking forward to hearing what he writes next for the San Francisco Symphony,” Edwin Outwater added. 

Xavier Muzik holds a Master's Degree in Music Composition and a graduate minor in Creative Community Development from the Mannes School of Music at The New School. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Music Composition from the California Institute of the Arts. 

The Emerging Black Composers Project intends to spotlight early-career Black American composers and their music. It was launched in 2020 with the first-place commission given in June of 2021 to Trevor Weston.

The Emerging Black Composers Project is made possible through the generosity of Michèle and Laurence Corash.