Nina Shekhar Receives The ASCAP Foundation Nissim Prize for Lumina

February 18, 2021

Ross S. Griffey Recognized with Special Distinction 


New York, NY, February 18, 2021 -- Paul Williams, President of The ASCAP Foundation, announces that Nina Shekhar has been named the recipient of the 41st annual ASCAP Foundation Rudolf Nissim Prize. Selected by a panel of conductors, Shekhar was honored for Lumina, a c. 11-minute work for orchestra, and awarded a prize of $5,000.


Dr. Rudolf Nissim, former head of ASCAP's International Department and a devoted friend of contemporary composers, established this annual prize through a bequest to The ASCAP Foundation. The Prize is presented annually to an ASCAP concert composer for a work requiring a conductor that has not been performed professionally. A jury of three conductors selects the winning score.


Nina Shekhar

Nina Shekhar is a composer who explores the intersection of identity, vulnerability, love and laughter to create bold and intensely personal works.


A native of Michigan, Shekhar is currently pursuing her doctorate in Music Composition at Princeton University. She previously completed graduate studies at University of Southern California and undergraduate studies at University of Michigan, earning dual degrees in music composition and chemical engineering. An active educator, Shekhar is a Composer Teaching Artist Fellow for Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and is on faculty at Idyllwild Arts Academy and Brightwork newmusic’s Project Beacon initiative.  She served as an inaugural Debut Fellow of the Young Musicians Foundation, mentored by violinist and social activist Vijay Gupta.   


Described as “vivid” (Washington Post) and “surprises and delights aplenty” (LA Times), Shekhar’s music has been commissioned and performed by leading artists including Eighth Blackbird, International Contemporary Ensemble, LA Philharmonic, Albany Symphony, New York Youth Symphony, JACK Quartet, ETHEL, violinist Jennifer Koh, Ensemble Échappé, Music from Copland House, soprano Tony Arnold, Third Angle New Music and more. Her work has been featured by Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Walt Disney Concert Hall (LA Phil’s Noon to Midnight), Library of Congress and National Gallery of Art among others.


Shekhar’s current projects include commissions for the Albany Symphony, Alarm Will Sound, The Crossing, 45th Parallel Universe, saxophonist Timothy McAllister and cellist Matt Haimovitz. She is a two-time recipient of the The ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award (2015 and 2019) and the recipient of The ASCAP Foundation Leonard Bernstein Award (2018). For more information, visit:

Ross S. Griffey

The Jury also awarded Special Distinction to Ross S. Griffey of Houston, TX for Essay, a nine-minute work for full orchestra. Griffey writes music in all genres. In 2019, his work World of Ice, performed by Nicholas Mogg and Christopher Glynn, premiered at the Oxford Lieder Festival; and Night Music, performed by Joel Sachs and the New Juilliard Ensemble, debuted at Alice Tully Hall. Griffey earned his doctorate from Juilliard. For more information visit:


The judges for this year’s Nissim Prize were: Teddy Abrams, Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra and the Britt Festival; JoAnn Falletta, Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Connie and Marc Jacobson Music Director Laureate of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center and Artistic Adviser to the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra; and Michael Morgan, Music Director and Conductor of the Oakland Symphony, Music Director at Bear Valley Music Festival, Music Director of Gateways Music Festival and Music Director Emeritus of the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera.


About The ASCAP Foundation

Founded in 1975, The ASCAP Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education and talent development programs. Included in these are songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, recognition and community outreach programs. The ASCAP Foundation is supported by contributions from ASCAP members and from music lovers throughout the United States.


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Press Contact:

Cathy Nevins at ASCAP




Nina Shekhar 


Lumina for orchestra


Duration: c. 11 minutes


Instrumentation:  Full orchestra


2 Flutes

2 Oboes

2 Clarinets in B♭

2 Bassoons

4 Horns in F

3 Trumpets in C

2 Trombones

Bass Trombone


Percussion (3 players)

1. Crotales (with bow), Crash Cymbals

2. Vibraphone (with bow), Marimba

3. Triangle, Bass Drum, Small Muted Gong





Program Note:


Lumina explores the spectrum of light and dark and the murkiness in between. Using swift contrasts between bright, sharp timbres and cloudy textures and dense harmonies, the piece captures sudden bursts of radiance amongst the eeriness of shadows.


Lumina was written for the USC Thornton Symphony and conducted by Donald Crockett (University of Southern California). Nina Shekhar is the recipient of the Hans J. Salter Endowed Music Award (May 2020), granted by University of Southern California.