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About the Gibbons Prize

The Gibbons Prize pays homage to physicist, environmentalist, and Presidential Science Advisor John H. Gibbons. Jack Gibbons was a giant in technology policy-making, bringing science to the highest levels of the U.S. government. Among other things, Jack worked closely with scientists, industry, and political leaders to reduce the risk of climate change.

Jack also loved music and music was a foundation of the Gibbons household. Family members frequently entertained guests with impromptu house concerts. Jack himself had a smooth baritone voice and occasionally played a mean washtub bass. The family for many years sponsored and organized a summer music camp on their farm along the Obed River in the Cumberland Mountains. The Gibbons family recently donated that Obed property to help create our newest national park, the Obed Wild and Scenic River ( The Gibbons Prize in music composition shares the spirit and contributions of our mentor, friend, and colleague.

For brief summaries of Jack Gibbon's life and accomplishments, please see the Washington Post, "John H. Gibbons, Science Advisor to Congress and Clinton," or Wikipedia, John H. Gibbons.

Review the Guidelines used for the Gibbons Prize competition.

About the Judges

Musica Canis Avem is fortunate to have had the participation of exceedingly well-qualified judges for the inaugural Gibbons Prize for solo guitar composition. They are, in alphabetical order, William Kenlon, Matt Palmer, and Ronald Pearl.

William Kenlon is a Washington, D.C., based composer who specializes in chamber, choral, and jazz ensembles. His most recent work, Dreamless, an opera in one act, premiered at the Capital Fringe Fest.

William holds degrees from James Madison and Tufts universities, as well as a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Maryland. He serves on the faculties of the University of Maryland and the Catholic University of America.

Additional biographical information about William Kenlon is available at

Matt Palmer, also based in the Washington area, is renowned as a virtuosic and soulful guitarist. Matt tours regularly, performs widely, and is a prolific, critically acclaimed recording artist. He is the author of the book, The Virtuoso Guitarist. Matt Palmer has collaborated with many important composers to write new music for the guitar.

Matt holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Arizona, where he studied with Thomas Patterson, David Russell, Odair Assad, and Sergio Assad. He serves on the faculty of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. Additional biographical information about Matt Palmer is available at

Ronald Pearl is a distinguished composer and guitarist based in Baltimore, Maryland. Ronald toured throughout the world for twenty years performing as half of an acclaimed duo with Julian Gray. Pearl's compositions have been performed, recorded, and broadcast throughout the US and Canada, South America, Europe, and Asia, including recent premieres in Switzerland, Germany, and Finland, and New York.

Ronald hold degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory and the Peabody Conservatory. He serves as Professor and Music Program Director at Loyola University of Maryland. Additional biographical information about Ronald Pearl is available at

The Gibbons Prize was founded and is coordinated by Bill Chandler. Chandler studied music composition with David Van Vactor and guitar with Larry Long and Matt Palmer. He is an award-winning energy and climate scientist and holds a B.S. from the University of Tennessee and an M.P.A. from Harvard University.