Dr. Melanie Brooks, Director of Bands at Winona State University, was recently awarded The American Prize in Conductinin the professional band/wind ensemble division for 2021. Brooks was selected from applicants across the United States. 

“My first feeling was that of surprise, and then of elation,” said BrooksThe American Prize is a nation-wide competition for performing artists that has been gaining more and more recognition over the past decade. Its an honor to be recognized in this way!” 

Brooks, who joined the faculty at WSU in 2018, received her masters degree in Wind Conducting and her Doctor of Musical Arts from Arizona State University, and her Bachelor of Arts from Saint Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. 

“It has been over a year and a half since my students, musician colleagues, and I have been able to perform in our authentic settings. This award caused me to reflect on those beautiful moments in the rehearsal hall and on the concert stage and feel a sense of energy and optimism for life in the post-pandemic world.” 

The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in Performing Arts is the nation’s most comprehensive series of non-profit competitions in the musical and theater arts. The series is unique in scope and structure, and designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, ensembles, and composers in the United States based on submitted recordings. 

“There’s nothing quite like playing in and conducting a band,” said Brooks. “I can’t wait to continue to make excellent music with the students in the Winona State University Band program!”