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Sue Haug, Music, (515) 294-5364
Dave Gieseke, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, (515) 294-7742
Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- Jonathan Saggau, who graduated in May 2001 from Iowa State University with a bachelor's degree in music, has been named one of nine winners in the 49th Annual BMI Student Composer Awards competition.

Saggau, a 1997 graduate of Ankeny High School, was presented the award at a reception in New York City on June 15. Milton Babbit, composer and president of BMI, presented the award.

The BMI Student Composer Awards recognize superior creative talent and winners receive scholarship grants to be applied toward their musical education. More than 450 manuscripts were submitted to the competition from throughout world in 2001. The student composers ranged in age from 15 to 26.

Saggau's award winning work, "Now I am Become Death, Destroyer of Worlds, was written for orchestra. The title is based on a quote from Robert Oppenheimer, one of the architects of the atomic bomb. Oppenheimer said the quotation from an ancient Eastern text went through his mind when the first test of the bomb was completed.

"Oppenheimer was torn between building this destructive weapon and working on a physics problem," Saggau said. "This piece reflects some of Oppenheimer's 'should I or shouldn't I' continue to work on this project."

Saggau depicts several aspects of the Manhattan Project (building of the first atomic bomb) in his composition from the moments the idea formed in Oppenheimer's mind to the first test and the ultimate use of the weapon on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"I wanted to do something really huge," he said. "I wanted to learn to orchestrate and write a piece for a large ensemble."

While at Iowa State, Saggau studied percussion with Barry Larkin, associate professor of music, and composition with former Iowa State music professors Craig Weston and Robert Rathmell. He will begin work in the fall on an M.M. degree in composition at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music.

Another musical composition by Saggau will premiere this fall during the installation of Gregory Geoffroy as Iowa State University's 14 th president. Saggau has been commissioned to write a fanfare, entitled "Dismantling the Silence," which he describes as "explosive and vibrant." The Iowa State Wind Ensemble will perform the piece during the ceremony.


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