Professor Kyle Simpson receives an honorable mention from The American Prize in Composition, orchestra division

Created: April 10, 2018  |  Last Updated: July 17, 2020  |  Category:   |  Tagged:

WASHINGTON, PA (April 10, 2018)—Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) Assistant Professor of Music Kyle Simpson received an honorable mention from The American Prize in Composition, 2017-18, in the student orchestra division for his work, “On the Road Suite.” Simpson’s piece features text by author Jack Kerouac set to original music.

“I was traveling across the country with my wife and we were listening to the audio-book of On the Road as read by actor Matt Dillon. The words and imagery painted such a vibrant and distinct picture of late 1940’s America. I kept thinking of how this adventure could be represented in musical terms,” Simpson said.

The suite of music focuses on specific moments from Kerouac’s novel, and tries to form a smaller narrative from it. Simpson found inspiration from some of his favorite artists from the 1940s, including Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copeland, and Duke Ellington, incorporating sounds from the era in his composition and coupling it with narration from acclaimed local jazz vocalist Patrick Arena.

Simpson’s submission was reviewed this winter and selected from a wide pool of submissions from throughout the country. He was excited to learn that his piece had been selected.

“I was very pleased to hear this. I had submitted pieces in the past and was only awarded a semi-finalist,” he said. “The fact that I not only made it as a Finalist, but was awarded Honorable Mention means a great deal to me. I think this honor helps to illustrate the kind of growth I have undergone as a composer.”

This honorable mention adds another accolade to Simpson’s impressive list of accomplishments. He has been awarded fellowships to study composition at the EAMA School in Paris, France, the Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles, and Ostrava Days in Ostrava, CZ. Recently he was awarded the Leslie Basset Fellowship to attend the Alba Music Festival in Alba, Italy. Simpson has written music for such ensembles as: Banff Center Jazz Residency Ensemble, World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra, The Washington PA Symphony, The Janaček Philharmonic, and The New York Film Orchestra (ASCAP/NYU). ASCAP Named Simpson as a “2011 Composer to Watch.”

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.