2014 Rubin Institute Concludes with Awards and New Emerging Writers Program Announced by San Francisco Classical Voice

2014 Rubin Fellows with benefactor Stephen Rubin (Photo by Scott Wall)

The second Stephen and Cynthia Rubin Institute for Music Criticism Rubin Prize in Music Criticism culminated at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music's Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall on November 10 with a ceremony announcing the recipients of the Institute's two awards:

Zoë Madonna, a participating student writer from Oberlin College, won the $10,000 Rubin Prize in Music Criticism.

Karen Baumer, a San Francisco-based technical writer and concert-goer, won the $1,000 Everyone's A Critic Audience Review Prize. You can read her review here.

The biennial event, which concluded its second season, drew distinguished critics, participants from universities/conservatories across the country, and the general public for a week-long series of events including public panels, concerts, lectures and discussions on music criticism. 

In an exciting and important addition to the work of the Rubin Institute, the San Francisco Classical Voice (SFCV) has offered six-month paid internships to eight 2014 Rubin Fellows, including the winner of the Rubin Prize. Participating young writers will have the opportunity to publish one or two reviews a month in SFCVʼs web journal while receiving advice and mentorship from some of the country's most accomplished music journalists. The internships, part of the new SFCV Emerging Writers Program, may take place around the country, wherever the writers are based. (Details on the internship program are included in a complete announcement here; additional information is available at www.sfcv.org).

San Francisco Conservatory of Music President David H. Stull and Stephen Rubin, President and Publisher of Henry Holt & Co. and benefactor of The Rubin Institute, announced the Institute award winners at the ceremony.

President Stull stated, "The Rubin Institute provided a transformative experience for both students and critics during the last several days. I am grateful for the phenomenal support of our performance partners, for the tremendous opportunity provided by San Francisco Classical Voice, and for the wonderful generosity of Stephen Rubin. This is an outstanding group of critics and we look forward to bringing them back in the future."

Oberlin College student Zoë Madonna, winner of the 2014 Rubin Prize for Music Criticism, will use the prize to support further study in the field of music criticism over the next two years. She was selected by Mr. Rubin and a panel of prominent national critics following a week-long series of public events, including performances, pre-performance lectures by journalists, private critical review sessions and public discussion panels. She participated in the audience competition during the 2012 Rubin Institute, where all three of her reviews advanced to the final round. She so enjoyed the experience that she eagerly enrolled in the Oberlin Conservatory's Introduction to Music Criticism class. A fourth-year East Asian studies major, anthropology minor, and avid writer and photographer, Madonna spent a semester studying in Japan and hopes to pursue a career in Japanese-English translation. She has been singing, playing piano, and listening to music since her childhood in Maplewood, New Jersey. Outside of class, she can be found at Oberlin's many concerts, singing with the historical-music vocal ensemble Collegium Musicum, hosting a radio show on campus station WOBC, teaching contra dance, or playing the accordion at local Irish music gatherings and farmers' markets.

Tim Page, Anne Midgette, Heidi Waleson, 2014 Rubin Prize winner Zoë Madonna, Alex Ross, benefactor Stephen Rubin and John Rockwell (Photo by Kristin Loken)

Taking part in the 2014 Rubin Institute were 17 Rubin Fellows representing some of the nation's leading institutions of higher learning and music education: the Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, and the Yale School of Music.

Rubin Fellows worked with some of today's most respected writers and classical music reviewers: Anne Midgette, Washington Post critic and author; Tim Page, professor, journalism and music, USC, and author; John Rockwell, writer and arts critic; Alex Ross,New Yorker magazine critic and author; Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal critic and author; and Mr. Rubin.

Fellows also participated in public and private panel discussions and reviewed performances presented by the Institute's Performance Partners: the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Cal Performances.

The Institute, as part of its goal to be a positive force in the art of writing and talking about music, as well as a catalyst in sparking dialogue on the topic, also invited audience members to submit reviews alongside Rubin Fellows for the same four performances selected by the Rubin Institute. Karen Baumer of San Francisco received the $1,000 Everyone's a Critic Audience Review Prize for her critique of a concert by Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Her review was chosen by a panel of distinguished critics including: Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle music critic, Rubin Institute Critic-in-Residence, and Audience Review Prize Panel Chair; Robert Commanday, founding editor of San Francisco Classical Voice; Wynne Delacoma, contributor Chicago Sun-Times, Classical Review and Musical America, and Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice.

Wynne Delacoma, Steven Winn, Joshua Kosman and Karen Baumer, 2014 Everyone's a Critic Audience Review Prize winner (Photo by Kristin Loken)

In addition to public concerts and panel discussions, several pre-concert lectures covering a wide variety of subjects in music criticism were presented by Alex Ross, Anne Midgette, Heidi Waleson, and John Rockwell, as well as a keynote address opening the Institute by Anthony Tommasini, chief classical music critic of The New York Times.

Full details on The Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, including select concert reviews, biographies on all those involved, concert programs and more can be found here on the Institute's website.

The Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, the $10,000 Rubin Prize in Music Criticism and the $1,000 Everyone's a Critic Audience Review Prize are made possible by the generosity of Stephen Rubin, President and Publisher of Henry Holt & Co.