Baylor Symphony Orchestra Wins American Prize for Third Consecutive Year

May 30, 2017

Baylor's Symphony Orchestra performs under Stephen Heyde's direction at the ensemble's annual Christmas concert.

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WACO, Texas (May 30, 2017) – For the third year in a row, the Baylor Symphony Orchestra has won the American Prize in orchestral performance in the college and university division.

The American Prize is an annual competition entered by hundreds of ensembles and individuals from many different areas of the performing arts at the professional, collegiate, church, community and secondary levels. Each submission includes a CD of the candidate’s recent performances, which is evaluated by a panel of professional judges.

Stephen Heyde, professor of orchestral studies and conductor-in-residence at Baylor University, said receiving this award for the third consecutive year is an unprecedented honor. He believes the orchestra’s success stems from the combined effort of a supportive faculty and talented, hardworking students.

“I love my students and I love the effort and integrity with which they approach this whole process,” said Heyde. “The students are there because they want to be there. They’re working hard and trying to pursue perfection. Perfection is impossible, but when you have that attitude in a really positive way, not an obsessive way, that’s the key.”

“Integrity and humility” is the unofficial motto of the Baylor symphony, and Heyde said he thinks the student musicians in the orchestra embody those values.

Emily Owens, B.M., Applied Music ’17, played violin in the Baylor Symphony Orchestra for four years and witnessed the group win the American Prize year after year. She said Heyde encouraged the group to strive for excellence and never stop improving.

“Every time we won an award, he would congratulate us but remind us that we still had a lot to do,” said Owens. “We always approached a win like that with an attitude of humility. That was his motto: integrity and humility. We never stopped to celebrate; we celebrated by working harder.”

Along with national recognition, winners of the American Prize receive a cash prize and professional adjudication. Heyde said he looks forward to receiving feedback from the judges so that the ensemble can continue to learn and improve.

The Baylor Symphony Orchestra will apply for the American Prize again with a recording of its performances from the 2016-2017 school year. Heyde said that although receiving the award is always an exciting surprise for the ensemble, winning isn’t everything.

“We’re not trying to win American Prizes,” he said. “All we’re trying to do is play and make our music as good as it can be to glorify God.”

by Kassidy Woytek , student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The Baylor University School of Music provides transformational experiences that prepare students for careers in music. Our students thrive in a Christian environment characterized by a nurturing resident faculty, an unwavering pursuit of musical excellence, a global perspective, dedication to service, and devotion to faith. They investigate the rich musical and cultural heritage of the past, develop superior musical skills and knowledge in the present, and explore and create new modes of musical expression for the future. While preparing for future leadership roles, the students join with School of Music faculty in enhancing the quality of community life, enriching the larger culture, and making Baylor a place in which heart, mind and soul coalesce. The School of Music of Baylor University is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music and the Texas Association of Music Schools. Degree programs leading to the bachelor of music education degree conform to certification requirements of the Texas Education Agency.