Dr. Benjamin Bergey conducts the orchestra at a rehearsal for the 2021 gala concert.

Bergey places second for American Prize in Conducting


EMU’s music maestro Dr. Benjamin Bergey earned second-place honors in one of the most prestigious awards competitions in the country for the performing arts. 

Bergey, assistant professor of music at EMU and director of its orchestra and choirs, is the runner-up for the 2023 American Prize in Conducting in the college and university orchestra division. 

The annual nonprofit American Prize series of contests is among the most renowned for evaluating music ensembles, directors and solo performers in the U.S., with awards given at the professional, college/university, community and high school levels.

“The panelists and judges are often folks who have experience,” Bergey said, “so to feel that affirmation or validation in the work we’re doing here is really meaningful.”

Anna Wittstruck, director of the Boston College Symphony Orchestra, won first place for conducting in the college and university orchestra division.

In addition to Bergey’s second-place finish, the EMU orchestra and university choir were finalists in their respective divisions. 

“I feel proud of the group for having risen to the challenge,” Bergey said. “Even though [the orchestra and choir] didn’t place, to be a finalist in it is something we celebrate.”

For their entries in the competition, Bergey submitted a video of their performance of Dona Nobis Pacem by composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. The piece, which he described as “very ambitious,” was performed by both the orchestra and choir at EMU’s 2021 gala concert.

At EMU, Bergey teaches conducting classes and advises the new Music and Peacebuilding major. He also conducts the Rapidan Orchestra in Orange, Virginia. He is active as a guest conductor and clinician, leading many resourcing events for worship leaders and conducting festival orchestras and choirs. 

Join the Discussion on “Bergey places second for American Prize in Conducting

  1. What an amazing — but for sure deserved — honor for Benjamin Bergey! I first recall him as an undergraduate when he proved be to a super-talented performer mentored by Jennifer Cooper. She was a voice teacher at EMU for a short period (far too short, in my view) who also had a wealth of experience as a professional opera singer. Ben showed talent equal to Jennifer’s in productions directed by Jennifer. It’s been wonderful to see his trajectory in the intervening years.

    1. Thank you so much, Bonnie! It was a pleasure and honor to work with Ben… and all of the wonderful EMU students!

  2. Congratulations Benjamin! What an amazing recognition for who you are and what you best to enrich, inspire, and impact people around you, especially your students at EMU.
    I am honored to have met during the EMU Gala 2023.

    Sending you and your family Amahoro blessings during this Christmas Season.

    Mukarabe Makinto

  3. Ben, it is wonderful to hear the honors you have received for you conducting. You have a good life ahead of you for continued expansion of your gifts. EMU is fortunate to receive your gifts.
    Jim Lapp

  4. Bravo, Ben! The sky is the limit for you. I’m among the many who are grateful and proud for the joy you and EMU music students and faculty bring into the community. Keep it going. You are creating something rare and fine right here in the valley

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