Score’s ‘incredible originality’ wins composer’s prize

16 December 2015

A Doctor of Music student from the University of Auckland has been named joint winner of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) TODD Corporation Young Composers Award.

Jay Greenberg, who submitted a five minute piece entitled Water Wheel with Mantras, jointly received the award with Wellington resident Reuben Jelleyman.

Judge Michael Norris praised the twenty-three year old for the ‘incredible originality’ of his score as well as for his confidence with the orchestra.

Jay, who grew up in the United States, also won the Orchestra’s Choice Award for the composition, created especially for the contest.

Currently living in central Auckland, Jay is in his third year of his DMus in composition supervised by Associate Professor Eve de Castro Robinson at the School of Music, within the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries.

Eve says “it is rare to see someone so young demonstrate command over a variety of compositional styles, and produce work of such craft and striking inventiveness. Jay's sinuous and technically demanding flute quartet won a first equal prize in our recent Douglas Lilburn Composition Prize."

Jay first started composing when he was seven years old, and wrote his first orchestral score at the age of ten. At age 11 he was accepted into the pre-college programme at the Julliard School in New York, where he studied for three years. Jay read music at the University of Cambridge, receiving his BA (hons) in 2012.

His works have been performed and recorded by many ensembles in the USA, Europe and Asia, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York City Ballet, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Sejong Soloists, the American Brass Quintet and the Britten Sinfonia among others.

Now in its eleventh year the NZSO TODD Corporation Young Composers Award is open to composers 25 and under. There were 24 submissions in this year’s competition, with nine making it through to the finals in Wellington.

The finalists spent three days having their compositions workshopped, rehearsed and performed by the NZSO, conducted by Richard Gill, and mentored by composer Michael Norris.

Jay says “the days spent with the other eight finalists listening to all the compositions was invaluable but intense.”

The award includes a cash prize of $750. All nine finalists’ works were recorded by Radio New Zealand and will feature early next year.

To find out more about Jay visit

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