The West Virginia University Symphony Orchestra of the region’s top collegiate ensembles—has now been recognized as one of the best in the country by being named a finalist in The American Prize Competition.

Conducted by Mitchell Arnold, the WVU Symphony Orchestra is one of six finalists nationwide for excellence in orchestral performance by a college or university orchestra.

Other finalists include the Kennesaw State University Symphony Orchestra of Kennesaw, Ga.; The St. Olaf Orchestra of Northfield, Minn.; the Mannes Orchestra of New York, N.Y.; the Baylor Symphony of Waco, Texas; and the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra of Ithaca, N.Y.

According to Dr. Arnold, being named as a finalist is quite an honor.

“We are so pleased that The American Prize organization has recognized the stature of the WVU Symphony Orchestra,” he said. “Our audiences are familiar with the outstanding musical achievement of the ensemble, so it is great that as a finalist for the American Prize, the WVU Symphony Orchestra is being recognized nationally.

“It would be quite an honor to be chosen as a winner–and while it may sound like an ‘Oscar’ line–to be named a finalist along with such other outstanding college and university ensembles is already a great reward.”

The WVU Symphony Orchestra is known for performing with precision and intense passion performances that celebrate great music played by a young, vigorous and dedicated group of musicians.

Last fall, the WVU Symphony went on its first tour of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia, which is also a reflection of the growing status of the WVU School of Music as one of the region’s most important music programs, and of the WVU Symphony as one of the premiere ensembles of its kind in the region.

In addition, the WVU Symphony Orchestra was one of two collegiate orchestras selected to perform at the annual conference of the College Orchestra Directors Association. This appearance will be in Jan. 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mitchell Arnold, who has been director of orchestral studies at WVU since 2008, received a doctorate in conducting from Northwestern University and has an extensive background in new music.

Before coming to WVU, he was director of orchestras at Northern Illinois University and assistant director of orchestras at Northwestern University. He has also served on the faculties at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and Baldwin-Wallace College. In the spring of 2013, Arnold made his guest conducting debut with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit national competitions in the performing arts providing cash awards, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition for the best recorded performances by ensembles and individuals each year in the United States at the professional, college/university, church, community and secondary school levels. The American Prize was founded in 2009 and is awarded annually. Winners for 2013 will be announced in the near future via the competition’s Facebook page.

For more information, see The American Prize blog at: or the Facebook page at:

WVU Symphony Orchestra on Facebook:


CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts

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