Release Date: 5/22/2018
Contact: Office of Communications, 443.809.5908

Catonsville High senior wins national music composition contest

Debuts new composition at local concert

Adrian B. Sims
TOWSON, MD — He has not yet graduated from high school, but composer/conductor Adrian B. Sims is already making a mark in the music world.

Sims, a senior at Catonsville High School, was named one of two winners of the prestigious national 2018 MakeMusic Young Composers Contest, for his composition Force Field. The contest was open to composers from ages 13 to 21. As a winner, Sims will receive a $250 cash award and other prizes, and his composition will be performed live in select cities as part of the national Make Music Day celebrations on June 21.

Contest judge Brian Balmages wrote that he and fellow judges were impressed with the quality of submissions. “We saw a variety of strengths," Balmages wrote, “including some wonderful orchestration, harmonic language, use of texture, and more."

Sims is also an award recipient in this year’s BCPS Young Composers Project and a top-scorer in the 2016 and 2017 statewide music composition contests sponsored by the Maryland Music Educators Association. His winning piece from last year, Contraption, has been published by FJH Music Company and is available for purchase from J. W. Pepper & Son, Inc. A customer review on that site notes that the piece was premiered by Towson University's Symphonic Band and that “it is filled with energy." The piece has also been performed by the Catonsville High School Symphonic Winds.

Sims has composed five works for Catonsville Middle School’s band and orchestra. Last year, he guest conducted his composition, Circus Danse, with the Patapsco Middle School Wind Ensemble (in Howard County). He will be conducting the same group this month for a performance of his composition Forgotten Tales of the West. In addition, Sims has been a member of the Maryland All-State Band for all four years of high school.

“I’ve been teaching for 24 years now, and I can easily say that Adrian is the most talented student I have ever taught." said Chris Gnagey, music department chair and band and orchestra director at Catonsville High. “He’s an amazing trombonist and an even more gifted composer. He has a love and knowledge of all things music that far exceeds most students his age. He is destined for greatness!"

On May 20, Sims conducted the Baltimore County Music Educators Wind Symphony as they performed the debut of his Niagara Falls composition during their annual fundraising concert for the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. The symphony, a 50-piece concert band, is composed of BCPS music educators, students, and professional musicians – including Dr. Penelope Martin-Knox, community superintendent for Zone 4 and a former music educator.

“I am so impressed by this young man," Dr. Martin-Knox said. “When he stood before us and lifted his baton, his presence commanded our attention. He led us, a group including many professional musicians, with such confidence and maturity. I marvel that we have nurtured our very own virtuoso right here in Baltimore County. To compose and conduct at the level he is doing – at his age – is just unheard of and requires such a high skill level. The piece that he performed demonstrated his artistry and creativity."

After graduation, Sims will attend the University of Maryland as a music education major.

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