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2022 Alumni Enterprise Awardees Announced

Revolutionary. Daring. Inspiring.

The 75th Anniversary Alumni Enterprise Awardees

The Academy’s Innovation Institute has awarded $75,000 to artistic projects originating from Miami, Bangkok, Austin, and Seattle/Reykjavík

The Music Academy of the West has designated $75,000 in funding for four Alumni Enterprise Award projects as part of its 75th anniversary initiatives. These ventures have the potential to spark change in the field of classical music and beyond. The winners’ groundbreaking work will provoke new thinking about the arts and their reflection of society.

Scott ReedMusic Academy President & CEO
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Among our outstanding alumni are influencers and disruptors. These awards invest in their opportunity to create positive impact with career-advancing resources and guidance. Their work mirrors our desire for progressive change in our field. They inspire us to unlock our imagination. We are proud to invest in these leaders and can’t wait to see the results!

In addition to financial investing, each awardee receives customized professional training. Industry advisors have been paired with the winners to propel the projects to success in 2022.

About the 2022 Awardees, Advisors & Winning Projects

Amanda Crider
Amanda CriderAwardee
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The support from this award underlines and encourages the impact of the work I have been creating with IlluminArts to bring classical music to my community and a broader national audience in a way that makes sense to the changing expectations of a 21st century audience.

To Reach the Light

AWARDEE AMANDA CRIDER (‘06), mezzo-soprano and IlluminArts Founder and Artistic Director, Miami, Florida

PROJECT: IlluminArts presents: To Reach the Light

To Reach the Light is a collaborative, multi-disciplinary work presented and curated by IlluminArts, performed by Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami and Philadelphia-based vocal ensemble Variant 6. Composers Elliott Cole, Shawn Crouch, Jenny Olivia Johnson, Carla Kiehlstedt, and Evelin Seppar have been commissioned for new works to be choreographed by Dimensions Company Dancer Yanis Eric Pikeris. These pieces are based on the theme “Transform” and consider how society is changing—how ideas, perceptions and philosophies mutate, how the way we perform and present music is transforming, how bodies transform through movement, and how six individual voices transform into one cohesive sound. Performances will be presented in March and April 2022 at The Rubell Museum in Miami and the Glen Foerd Estate in Philadelphia. Video recordings will be available online.

Advisor Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director, Joffrey Ballet

Christopher Janwong McKiggan
Christopher Janwong McKigganAwardee
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This award will allow us to enlighten audiences regarding the realm of traditional Thai Arts.

Pain of Silence

AWARDEE CHRISTOPHER JANWONG MCKIGGAN (’09), pianist, founder, Piano Academy of Bangkok, and video documentarian, Bangkok, Thailand

PROJECT: Pain of Silence

Pain of Silence is a feature length documentary that focuses on the struggles endured by traditional artists of Thailand and how the pandemic has magnified their challenges. To bring awareness to the plight of these artists and what can be done to preserve their work and culture, the film will explore:


  • Thai puppet theater Hun Lakom Lek
  • Grand shadow play Nang Yai Wat Khanon at the Wat Khanon Temple
  • The artistry of the Thai Song Dam, a minority ethnic group that migrated from Vietnam and Laos two centuries ago, that is on the verge of extinction
  • Thai ‘Pin’ guitar-like music performed by artist Bunma Khaowong that has been relegated from award winning status to busking

 Pain of Silence is in Thai with English subtitles. It films this spring and will be promoted with social media campaigns and distributed to international film festivals.

Advisor Jamila Wignot, Peabody, Emmy, and NAACP award-winning documentary filmmaker and PBS series director

Steve Parker
Steve ParkerAwardee
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I am perhaps most excited for the professional development framework, which will grant me the opportunity to work with some of the leading thinkers, artists, and producers who will help this project reach its fullest potential.

Fight Song

AWARDEE STEVE PARKER (’07), visual artist, musician/trombonist, and curator, faculty member at University of Texas, San Antonio


FIGHT SONG uses the marching band to examine themes of virtuosity, spectacle, labor, inequities, and traumatic injury in Texas football. The project will draw from legacies of sonic healing in the work of Hildegard von Bingen and Pauline Oliveros and the history of the marching band as a political tool. It will materialize as a gallery exhibition and site-specific marching band performance, combining interactive sonic sculpture, choreography, and wearable invented instruments to investigate the band’s potential to spark conversations, implement sonic therapy, and spur social progress.

Advisor Jon Rubin, interdisciplinary artist and Professor of Art, Carnegie Mellon University

Saeunn Thorsteinsdóttir
Saeunn ThorsteinsdóttirAwardee
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The Academy’s encouragement and support to materialize a wild dream of the future of classical music is an honor.

The NOW Concerto

AWARDEE SAEUNN THORSTEINSDÓTTIR (’04), cellist, Chair, Strings and Associate Professor, University of Washington, Seattle

PROJECT: The NOW Concerto

The NOW Concerto is a reimagining of the genre of the concerto, reclaiming its art of improvisation and expanding the possibilities of the orchestral concerto experience. Both soloist and the orchestral ensemble will improvise within the structure of the piece. This project will be a collaboration with the Reykjavik-based composer of the work, Halldór Smárason, to create rehearsal aids and promotional materials to introduce the concerto to orchestras to secure future performances. New technology will be used to coordinate improvisation by the soloist and ensemble.

Advisor Teddy Abrams, Music Director, Louisville Orchestra and Britt Festival, Musical America 2022 Conductor of the Year

Winners will participate in group accelerator and skill sessions, including with leaders/educators of Stanford’s (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design). The cohort will be training with the Director of Executive Education Perry Klebahn and Lecturer Dr. Kathryn Segovia. They have seminars with JD Schramm, author of Communicate with Mastery, and will continue monthly sessions with additional experts including Kristin Chesnutt Oro, Product Manager for New Imaging Technologies for Dolby Laboratories.

Since 2018, all Music Academy alumni have been invited to apply annually for the awards. To date, nearly $400,000 has been granted to 30 awardees. This forward-thinking program has fueled projects focused on artistic expression, community engagement, education, social justice, and technology.

The selection process included application review by representatives of the Academy’s administration and board, as well as Jessica Lustig of 21C Media Group, and members of the Academy’s National Advisory Council.



The Innovation Institute’s Alumni Enterprise Awards incubate and accelerate trailblazing endeavors with cash prizes, connection to industry advisors, and advanced training in entrepreneurial leadership. Nearly $400,000 has been distributed to 30 alumni since 2018.

The Innovation Institute is generously supported by

The Ladera Foundation
Bobby Woods
Cheryl and Peter Ziegler


Career Workshops include interactive sessions with experts to share best practices for building a rewarding and sustainable professional life. They cover business and communication skills, finances, and more.

Innovation Seminars focus on entrepreneurial strategies and technology, plus exciting ideas and actions that can enhance the classical music landscape.

The Fast Pitch Competition is an opportunity to share novel ideas about how to advance the performing arts ecosystem. Awardees receive cash prizes and project support.


Music Academy of the West is a performance-based training center and incubator that empowers musicians to positively impact society. The Academy welcomes everyone from across all generations, cultures, and backgrounds to experience the transformative power of music. Based in Santa Barbara, California, the Academy presents the preeminent full-scholarship Summer School and Festival for classically trained fellows ages 18 to 34. They study and perform with more than 50 exceptional faculty and teaching artists, while forging close connections with the community. The Academy’s commitment to long-term collaborations and exchanges with leading orchestras and opera companies results in unparalleled mentorship and career-advancing prospects. The Innovation Institute spearheads entrepreneurial training and ventures through seminars, residencies, and the Alumni Enterprise Awards, substantial grants given annually for a wide range of creative projects. Launched in 2018, Sing!, a free, after-school choral program for local elementary students inspires personal growth and expression. For more information, visit


photos courtesy of the artists


Kate Oberjat
Director of Marketing and Communications
Music Academy of the West

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