Music Students Honored With Annual Awards

Andrew Wright, left on piano and Gabriel Hansen, right on trumpet

Andrew Wright (left) and Gabriel Hansen (right)

The Davidson College Music Department is pleased to announce the following awards.

The Wilmer Hayden Welsh Prize in Composition, established in honor of a longtime composer and Professor of Music at Davidson (1963-1991), recognizes the best original music composition by a Davidson student. This year’s Welsh Prize goes to Andrew Wright for his piece, Waiting. Composer and Professor of Music Jennifer Stasack described Waiting as follows:

  • Drawing inspiration from sources ranging from Kenny Wheeler’s “Kind Folk,” Frank Ocean’s “Higgs,” Aphex Twin’s “Flim,” and the eclectic jazz universe of The Juju Exchange, Andrew artfully integrates analog, MIDI, and synthesizer technologies to create a cohesive, harmonically rich, and melodically soulful 13-track landscape. Two core strata (one, a warm, somewhat smoky MIDI piano underscore; the other, ethereal—and periodically untethered—strands of trumpet lines) unfold under a canopy of nuanced digital and synthesized sounds that collectively drift elusively in and out of the tonal, the chromatic, and the atonal.

The Steinway Award recognizes outstanding pianistic ability, musicianship, and artistic and academic scholarship. Artist Associate in Piano, Will Fried, wrote about this year’s winner, Gabriel Hansen.

  • Gabriel Hansen has contributed to the music department community for the past four years as pianist and vocalist. As a pianist, he thrives on challenge, tackling difficult projects – from the infamous double glissandi in Ravel’s Alborada to repeated notes in Falla – with determination, persistence, and resourcefulness.  Gabriel also approaches music with curiosity and openness, developing thoughtful interpretations marked by sensitivity, maturity, and intelligence. As a member of the Davidson Singers, he was a dependable leader distinguished by a quiet integrity.  For his senior year, Gabriel prepared a program of solo, concerto, and chamber works by Chopin, Brahms, Debussy, Ravel and Falla. An English major at Davidson, Gabriel plans on pursuing medical school following graduation.

The Richard Ross Memorial Music Award, presented to a senior music major, honors Richard Ross, who was in his lifetime an internationally celebrated organ recitalist, a gifted teacher, and a dedicated Presbyterian Church musician. This year’s recipient is Andrew Wright. Andrew’s advisor, Millner Professor Bill Lawing, explained that “to write of Andrew Wright solely through the prism of music is to ignore much of his Davidson career, which has united music and economics. Entering as a Plott Scholar in jazz trumpet performance, he is a master improviser and soloist, equaled by his skills as a serious composer. We are honored to present him our 2020 Richard Ross Award.”

Congratulations to Gabriel and Andrew!


  • May 11, 2020