School of Music alumnus James May.
School of Music alumnus James May.

Alumnus James May has won the 2019 Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition, an Irish-based prize that recognizes talented composers and aims to provide Irish choirs with fresh, authentic material.

A 2018 School of Music graduate, May was UofL’s first George J. Mitchell scholar, an award given to just 12 Americans each year for Ireland postgraduate study. May is now working on a graduate degree in experimental sound practice at Ireland’s University College, Cork.

May’s winning composition, street after street alike, will premiere May 3 at St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork and performed by Chamber Choir Ireland.

“I’m thrilled to have been selected as the winner of the Sean Ó’Riada competition. I’ve been so impressed and humbled by the vibrant music and sonic art scene in Cork, all-embracing in its desire and support for exciting creativity,” said May as part of an interview that appeared on Cork International Choral Festival’s website. “I’ve already had so many wonderful music–making experiences here, and the opportunity to contribute my part to this community through the Cork International Choral Festival is an absolute dream.”

A native of Pittsburgh, May came to UofL on the Bomhard Fellowship after graduating from The College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio, with degrees in music composition and English.

He has created over a dozen original compositions and, during his time in Louisville, taught contemporary music at Louisville’s Youth Performing Arts School. His work has been performed and recorded throughout the U.S.
Check out this video profile of May from last year, when he was named UofL’s first Mitchell Scholar: