Edwin Fissinger Choral Composition Prize

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 2020 Fissinger Choral Composition Prize winner. NDSU Challey School of Music congratulates First Place Winner: Ian Shaw for his work “Where Is This Stupendous Stranger”.

Ian Shaw

Ian Shaw

Ian Shaw is honoured and delighted to be a winner of the Edwin Fissinger Composition Prize. Born in England in 1960, he studied at Cambridge University, where he was an Organ Student of St John’s College and a John Stewart of Rannoch Scholar in Sacred Music, at the Sweelinck Conservatorium of Amsterdam and, in a recent sabbatical year, at Goldsmith’s College London, where his research interests included the development of Black theatre in the United Kingdom and the value of stand-up comedy in prisons.

A first‐study organist, his teachers included Peter Hurford, John Scott and Piet Kee. He was for nine years Sub-‐Organist at Durham Cathedral but for the last three decades has mainly worked outside church music as a conductor or pianist, in disciplines including ballet, music theatre and opera. He has a particular interest in new work, and has been involved in world premières of operas by, for example, Philip Glass at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden; Stuart MacRae, Lliam Paterson and others at Scottish Opera; Michael Ellison in Istanbul and Dominique Le Gendre in Trinidad.

He is a somewhat reticent composer. Where is this Stupendous Stranger? – dedicated to the Latvian flautist Alisa Klimanska – is typical of many small‐scale choral pieces. Larger works include Service of the Sacrament (a companion to Buxtehude’s Missa Brevis), an organ symphony The Temptation of Christ, an orchestral song‐cycle A Breath of Nothing (to the Orpheus Sonnets of Rilke) and incidental music for stage productions of Othello and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. .

2021 Guidelines

This year we welcome submissions for a mixed choir.

Entries should be:

    • For an SATB choir-divisi is acceptable
    • 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    • Three to eight minutes in duration • original and unpublished (by an established commercial firm) works only.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, 2021

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 performance, NDSU will reimburse actual travel, lodging and food expenses, up to a maximum of $750.
• Winners will be announced by September 15, 2021.
• 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, composer, conductor

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, 2021 or postmarked by August 1, 2021.
  • 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,

Past Fissinger Choral Competition Recipients