The Seven Lakes HS Symphony Orchestra wins The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2017-18

The Seven Lakes HS Symphony Orchestra in Katy TX, Desiree Overree & John Mays, conductors is the 2017-18 winner of The American Prize in Orchestral Performance in the high school division. The Seven Lakes HS Symphony Orchestra was selected from applications reviewed recently from all across the United States. The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit, competitions unique in scope and structure, designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the United States based on submitted recordings. The American Prize has attracted hundreds of qualified contestants from all fifty states since its founding, has awarded more than $50,000 in prizes in all categories since 2010, and is presented annually in many areas of the performing arts.

Link to official announcement:

The artists provided this biographical sketch:

The Seven Lakes Orchestras have striven to be leaders in musical performance through innovative programming and presentation. We have sought to inspire our audiences and each other through diligent study and performance of the greatest string and symphonic music composed.

With a commitment to musical excellence, the ensembles have set out to reach the goal of being among the leading ensembles in Texas. The Symphony Orchestra has regularly placed in the top ten orchestras in TMEA’s Honor Orchestra competition. In July 2015, the ensemble was named the TMEA Honor Full Orchestra, winning our equivalency of the state championship. The Foundation of Music Education named the ensemble a National Winner in the Mark of Excellence for the National Honors Project in 2015. The Symphony earned the national title again in 2016. The Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Desiree Overree and John Mays.

Additional information about the competitions on the

For runners-up in this category and for additional winners already announced in 2017-18 in other competitions, please follow this link:

Winners of The American Prize receive cash prizes, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition based on recorded performances. In addition to monetary rewards and written evaluations from judges, winners are profiled on The American Prize websites, where links will lead to video and audio excerpts of winning performances.


The American Prize
 National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts grew from the belief that a great deal of excellent music being made in this country goes unrecognized and unheralded, not only in our major cities, but all across the country: in schools and churches, in colleges and universities, and by community and professional musicians.

With the performing arts in America marginalized like never before, The American Prize seeks to fill the gap that leaves excellent artists and ensembles struggling for visibility and viability. The American Prize recognizes and rewards the best America produces, without bias against small city versus large, or unknown artist versus well-known.

David Katz is the chief judge of The American Prize. Professional conductor, award-winning composer, playwright, actor and arts advocate, he is author of MUSE of FIRE, the acclaimed one-man play about the art of conducting. Joining Katz in selecting winners of The American Prize is a panel of judges as varied in background and experience as we hope the winners of The American Prize will be. Made up of distinguished musicians representing virtually every region of the country, the group includes professional vocalists, conductors, composers and pianists, tenured professors, and orchestra, band and choral musicians.

“Most artists may never win a Grammy award, or a Pulitzer, or a Tony, or perhaps ever even be nominated,” Katz said, “but that does not mean that they are not worthy of recognition and reward. Quality in the arts is not limited to the coasts, or to the familiar names, or only to graduates of a few schools. It is on view all over the United States, if you take the time to look for it. The American Prize exists to encourage and herald that excellence.”

By shining a light on nationally recognized achievement, winners of The American Prize receive world-class bragging rights to use in promotion right at home. “If The American Prize helps build careers, or contributes to local pride, or assists with increasing the audience for an artist or ensemble, builds the donor base, or stimulates opportunities or recruitment for winning artists and ensembles, then we have fulfilled our mission,” Katz said.

The American Prize is administered by Hat City Music Theater, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit performing arts organization based in Danbury, Connecticut.