Jonathan Weiss ’20 Wins ASCAP Young Composers Award

This spring, Jonathan Weiss ’20 was awarded the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Young Composers award. The annual competition is open to composers of original, classical concert music, encouraging developing music creators to get their work out into the world.

Jonathan was seven when he was given a toy keyboard for Christmas and picked out “Ode to Joy” by ear. He has been composing ever since. Now, his music is rooted in literature, art, and history. For the last five years, Jonathan has been submitting work to the ASCAP Young Composers competition at the encouragement of his composition teacher at the New England Conservatory, Rodney Lister; his Roxbury Latin composition teacher, Howard Frazin; and Roxbury Latin’s Director of Music, Rob Opdycke. Jonathan has been named a finalist a number of times, but this marks the first year he has been named among ASCAP’s 20 winning composers between the ages of 10 and 30.

Jonathan’s winning piece, titled “The Strongest Tree Bends in the Wind, was written last year in collaboration with the musical duo David Leach (RL Class of 2009) and Julia Connor, who together make up Room to Spare. Originally, Jonathan wrote the piece for a Hall presentation delivered from the Rousmaniere stage. Collaborating with other composers was new for Jonathan, and he had a great time working with Julia, a classical violinist, and David, a jazz musician and composer. All of their feedback on Jonathan’s piece, he said, “was perfect.” 

Next year, Jonathan is heading off to Yale, where his dream is to be in touch with Martin Bresnick, faculty composer at Yale School of Music, to study composition. He promises to continue to “pump out pieces” to send to ASCAP. For now, he feels honored to have received this award, which will allow him to become a member of ASCAP and publish his work.