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Belmont musician earns national conducting honor

Posted by Derek McLean  August 18, 2011 09:10 AM

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The American Prize
Belmont's Nathan Meyer, finalist for the American Prize

Belmont native Nathan Meyer is making a serious mark in the world of music.

Meyer, 20, who is entering his junior year studying music and German at Yale University, placed third nationally this year in the youth division for the American Prize in Conducting.

The American Prize, founded in 2009, is a series of national competitions designed to recognize and reward the very best in the performing arts in the United States.

Meyer submitted a videotape of himself conducting to the American Prize and found out online weeks later that he had won.

“I was very excited,” he said. “I think that music is about the experience of playing with people, but it is always nice to realize you are on the right track with things. I think this competition is very important for a lot of people to get exposure and recognition.”

Finalists for the American Prize receive professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition based on submitted recordings of their performances, according to a press release.

“Many artists will likely never win a Grammy award, or a Pulitzer, or a Tony, or perhaps even be nominated,” said David Katz, chief judge of the American Prize and an award winning composer, playwright, actor and arts advocate. “But that does not mean that they are not worthy of recognition and reward. Quality in the arts is not limited to the coasts, or to the familiar names, or only to graduates of the most famous schools. It is on view all over the United States, if you take the time to look for it. The American Prize exists to encourage and herald that excellence. ”

Meyer said one of his biggest achievements was starting the local Belmont Music Festival. At the festival he acts as the music director and conductor for talented high school and college students from around the Boston area. The festival took place last weekend at the Beech Street Center in Belmont.

“It was a wonderful way for students who used to play together at the Boston Youth Symphony and the New England Conservatory to come back and play with each other once more,” said Meyer.

Meyer has excelled in various musical areas. He performs as principal trumpet in the Yale University Symphony and has won two two national trumpet competitions.

He has also acted as the assistant conductor of Yale’s Saybrook Orchestra, performed as a soloist for the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra and the under 18, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra in Boston.

He was also the music director and founder of the Amadeus Ensemble during his freshman year at Yale. This summer Meyer traveled to Europe to study music in Romania and London.

“I make music my top priority,” he said. “The experience of music and the sharing of ideas and emotions about music is my passion. I can't really stop myself from talking about music.”

American Prize competitions include awards for orchestra, opera and musical theater companies, choruses, pianists, vocalists, composers and conductors. Complete information is available at The American Prize website and blog.

According to the press release The American Prize was founded from the belief that a great deal of excellent music in the country, like Meyer’s, goes unrecognized and unheralded. The American Prize looks to help recognize and reward the best America produces.

“If The American Prize builds local pride, or helps increase the audience, or grows the donor base, or stimulates recruitment for winning ensembles and their conductors, then we have fulfilled our mission,” Katz said.

Derek McLean can be reached at

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