Robert Black, chair of the judges’ panel for the 2014 ISB/David Walter Composition Competition, along with fellow judges Jeffrey Weisner and Szymon Marciniak, announces the winners of the 2014 competition. There were three divisions: solo bass or bass with keyboard; chamber ensemble for two to five players with a prominent bass part; and bass with electronic media (tape, CD, live electronics, interactive computer, video or film visuals.) The biennial competition, which honors the memory of double bass educator and performer David Walter, is open to all composers. The ISB renamed the competition as a tribute to his legacy in 2004.

All entries, submitted anonymously, are unpublished works in any style that have not been given a formal world premiere. The grand prize in each division is $1,000 and a premiere performance at the 2015 ISB Convention, to be held June 2-6 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The grand prize this year for the solo division is underwritten by composition competition chair and champion of new music Robert Black in honor of legendary double bassist Bert Turetzky, who is responsible for inspiring and commissioning a large body of works for the double bass in the 20th and 21st century.

The winners of the 2014 ISB/David Walter Composition Competition are:


The Bert Turetzky PrizeThe Fantasy Higgs Boson (double bass and piano) by Shang Lu, Bejing, China

Shang LuPianist and composer Shang Lu has been passionate about music since he was a child. At age 15 he won a gold medal in the 2007 “Same Sunshine, Same Love” youth arts competition in China. That same year, he took first place in the preliminary round of the Helen Cup international piano competition, and received an award of excellence in the final round. He was admitted to the Shenyang Conservatory of Music Accessorial Middle School at age 16, where he studied composition. In 2011, he was admitted to the China Conservatory of Music as a top student with the rank of “Distinction.” He is continuing his studies at the conservatory Professors Chen Xinruo, Luo Xinmin and Ye Xiaogang. Earlier in 2014, he won first prize in the young artists’ works for piano in the Golden Key International Music Festival.

  • Honorable Mention – Too Big for the Door (solo bass)
    by Fernanda Aoki Navarro, La Jolla, California USA
  • Honorable Mention – Homage a Xenakis (solo bass)
    by Nicola Straffelini, Riva del Garda, Italy


Co-Winner Grand Prize4/4 (bass quartet) by Dag Gabrielsen, Brooklyn, New York USA

Dag GabrielsenDag Gabrielsen’s music has been broadcast on the BBC, The Learning Channel, The Sundance Channel, HBO and IFC. He has written scores and cues for several independent films, including Mysterious Skin (Sundance Film Festival). His pocket opera All Three Acts of a Sad Play Performed Entirely in Bed premiered with New York City Opera at VOX 2011. In 2012 ESOPUS Magazine commissioned him to compose and record The ELIZA Effect, an electroacoustic work for solo soprano. He is currently in post-production on the film version of his two-act opera The Physicists. This past season 8 Strings & A Whistle performed his monodrama Food at The Queens New Music Festival. His collaborative dance on film project 1,2,3 will be distributed on DVD by The American Dance Festival in 2015. He studied composition with Charles Fussell at Rutgers University, where he earned a PhD in music theory and composition. He currently teaches at Hunter College, CUNY. 4/4 is dedicated to the bassist Troy Rinker.

Co-Winner Grand Prize – Ghosts (clarinet, 2 guitars, bass) by Jeff Greene, Chicago, Illinois USA

Jeff GreeneJeff Greene completed his bachelor degree in jazz studies from Indiana University in 2004, and earned a master’s degree in music composition from DePaul University in 2011. He has attended the Steans Institute for Young Artists at Ravinia and Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. As a composer he has written more than sixty pieces, and has recorded more than thirty of them as leader of the ensembles Human Motion and Blink. In 2007, the Illinois Arts Council awarded Jeff an Artists Fellowship in Music Composition to support the creation of new, original works. In 2008 he was commissioned to write Storylines, an ensemble piece, for the Ears and Eyes Festival in Chicago. His work for two percussionists, Organics, received the 2011 Kleinmann Award from DePaul University. The Range of Their Vision and Marrow, both for solo acoustic bass and electronics, won grand prizes in the 2010 and 2012 ISB/David Walter Composition Competitions, respectively. This is his third consecutive win in the competition. Jeff currently hosts the Resonant Radio podcast, featuring live performances and conversations with Chicago musicians and composers.

  • Honorable Mention – Medusa’s Lament and Dance (flute, cello, bass)
    by Andrew Austin, Newport News, Virginia USA
  • Honorable Mention – Pink Mountains (two basses)
    by Hunter Ewen, Longmont, Colorado USA
  • Honorable Mention – Kabocha Compressions (flute and bass) by Shoryu Itazu, Gifu, Japan

No prize was awarded in the media division.

Congratulations to our 2014 competition winners and many thanks to all 35 entrants from ten countries!