Edwin Fissinger Choral Composition Prizes

NDSU Challey School of Music honors the legacy and traditions of noted choral composer and long-time NDSU choral conductor Edwin Fissinger with its annual choral composition competition.

We are pleased to announce the first and second place 2019 Fissinger Choral Composition Prize winners. NDSU Challey School of Music congratulates First Place Winner: Christina Whitten Thomas for her work “And I Shall Sing” and Second Place Winner: Lydia Jane Pugh for her work "My Hiding Place (Psalm 32)."

Christina Whitten Thomas

Christina Whitten Thomas | First Prize

Christina Whitten Thomas’s works have been performed throughout the United States including at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Disney Concert Hall. Christina has received commissions from the Los Angeles Master Chorale Chamber Singers, the Golden Bridge, the Seraphim Singers of Boston, the Denver Women’s Chorus, Vox Femina of Los Angeles, the Esoterics of Seattle, Melodia Women’s Choir, the Middlebury College Choir, the Apollo Men’s Chorus, and the Vermont Choral Union. Her awards include 1st place in the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir competition, 1st place in the Los Robles Master Chorale competition, 1st place in the Park Avenue Christian Church competition, 2nd place in the NATS Art Song Composition Award, the Sorel Conductor’s Choice award, and the Sorel Medallion. Her choral cycle Choral de Bêtes can be heard on Musica Sacra’s 2012 CD release Messages to Myself. She is particularly committed to writing for the voice and is passionate about working with contemporary poets and original texts. She has collaborated frequently with lyricist Marian Partee, who wrote the text for And I Shall Sing. Christina has also worked with poets Jay Parini, Naomi Shihab Nye, Pam McAllister, Abigail Carroll, Hilary Miminguaquay, and Deirdre Lockwood.

Her music is published by E.C. Schirmer and Hal Leonard, as well as available through Christina holds a M.M. in composition from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music and resides with her family in Sierra Madre, California, where she is also an active teacher and vocalist. More information can be found at

Lydia Jane Pugh

Lydia Jane Pugh | Second Prize

Hailing from the island of Guernsey, Lydia Jane Pugh is an award-winning composer specialising in choral and chamber music. Her music's universal appeal has lead to performances by many groups around the world, including the 'Ebor Singers', 'Choral Chameleon' and the 'Empire City Men's Chorus'. A finalist for several awards, including the National Centre for Early Music's Young Composer Award (UK) and the Australian Boys Choir Choral Composition Competition, she was most recently awarded the Nathan Davis Prize in Composition at the Young New York's Chorus Young Composer Competition 2018 for her piece 'Adirai (Misplaced)'.

Alongside composing Lydia works as a professional singer, vocal coach and musical director, and was the recipient of both the 'John Owen-Jones Award', the presigious 'P.J. Proby Award' from The Voice College for the high standards of her work and has since joined the team as a tutor and online course content facilitator.


This year we are modifying the guidelines for the Fissinger prize to reflect the likelihood of smaller gatherings of singers. This year we welcome submissions for a mixed chamber choir.

Entries should be:

    • For an SATB chamber choir (around 16 voices) with limited divisi
    • Unaccompanied, or with piano accompaniment
    • One or two obbligato instruments would be acceptable
    • Three to eight minutes in duration • original and unpublished (by an established commercial firm) works only.
    • The text may be sacred or secular, either in the public domain or copyrighted, as long as a letter of permission from the copyright owner is included with the submission
    • Submission deadline – August 1, 2020

Prizes / Performance

• First: $1,500
• Second: $1000
• NDSU reserves the right to not award prizes in any given year.
• The composer of the first prize work is invited to be present at the performance.
• For the premiere, NDSU will reimburse actual travel, lodging and food expenses, up to a maximum of $750.
• Winners will be announced at by September 15, 2020.
• The first prize winner's piece, with the approval of the composer, will have their composition considered for publication in Pavane Publishing for placement in the Jo Ann Miller Choral Series.

Judging Panel

  • Jo Ann Miller, Director of Choral Activities, NDSU
  • Michael Weber, Associate Director of Choral Activities, NDSU
  • Charlette Moe, Assistant Director of Choral Activities and Music Education, NDSU
  • Jocelyn Hagen, Composer, Adjunct composition faculty, NDSU
  • Allan Petker, Pavane Publishing

Submission Guidelines

  • There is a $25 submission fee for each work submitted.
  • Include name, address, phone number(s), and email address when making payment via NDSU Marketplace or if paying by check, in a sealed envelope accompanying the score.
  • Send by PDF file to
  • Submitted scores must be in Finale or Sibelius.
  • An audio file is strongly recommended.
  • All scores selected for performance will be reproduced by NDSU.
  • Submissions must be submitted via email by 11:59 PM on August 1, 2020 or postmarked by August 1, 2020.
  • If not submitting a PDF, mail submissions to:
    Dr. Jo Ann Miller, NDSU Challey School of Music, Dept 2334, PO Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050
  • Email compositions to:
    Jo Ann Miller, Director of Choral Activities,