Barry McNamara  |  Published August 16, 2015

The American Prize

Monmouth’s Godsil a semi-finalist for national prize for composers
Monmouth College music instructor Daniel Godsil is a semi-finalist for The American Prize
Monmouth College music instructor Daniel Godsil is a semi-finalist for The American Prize

Monmouth College music instructor Daniel Godsil is a semi-finalist for The American Prize, a national music competition for composers, pianists, vocalists, chamber music ensembles, instrumental soloists and actors.

A series of non-profit national competitions in the performing arts, The American Prize provides cash awards, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition for the best recorded performances by ensembles and individuals each year in the U.S. at the professional, college/university, church, community and secondary school levels.

Godsil is competing in the student division of the chamber music competition with his composition, “Praxinoscope,” which was written for saxophone quartet. Finalists in the competition will be announced in September.

“A praxinoscope is an early animation device that used candles and mirrors to project a series of spinning still-frame images,” said Godsil. That “spinning” element came to mind when choosing his title, as the eight-minute piece begins with 90 seconds of “short, unrelated snippets of music,” then becomes a “virtual spinning out” of those snippets throughout the rest of the piece.

Godsil also competed for The American Prize a year ago with his piano trio “Zed One Three,” which was named a finalist and was an official selection for the 2014 San Francisco Festival of Contemporary Music.

Already an award-winning composer for film, media, and video games, Godsil’s recent scores include the St. Louis feature “American Streetballers,” Shawn Larkin’s “Fun With Benny” and a new feature film version of H.G. Wells’ “The First Men In the Moon,” produced by Praxinoscope Productions.

Godsil also writes extensively for chorus, chamber ensembles and orchestra. His works have been performed by the Metropolitan Orchestra of Saint Louis, the Monmouth Chorale, the Knox-Galesburg Symphony, and various soloists and chamber ensembles in Vienna, Austria.

Godsil, who teaches composition and piano at Monmouth and is the accompanist for the Monmouth Chorale, joined the faculty in 2010. On the day before The American Prize semi-finalists were announced, Godsil completed his master’s degree in music composition at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where his mentors have included Jonathan Bailey Holland, John Mallia and John Fitz Rogers. He holds his bachelor of music in composition from Webster University, where he studied composition under Robert Chamberlin. He has also studied in Vienna under pianist Gila Perach-Hirsch and composer Robert Spour.

“Now I’ll be moving on to my Ph.D. in either composition or music theory,” said Godsil, whose goal is to be a full-time professor of music at the college level.

Godsil’s back-to-back recognition in The American Prize competition is yet another example of the continued success of Monmouth’s music program. May graduate Mariela Shaker was invited to perform a violin recital at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., in June and, next spring, the Monmouth Chorale will tour Italy during Spring Break. The ensemble sang at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 2013.

Administered by Hat City Music Theater, Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Danbury, Conn., The American Prize was founded in 2009 and is awarded annually. More information is available at

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