Cranford HS student wins Harmonium Choral Society composition contest

Asher Shectman

CRANFORD, NJ — Harmonium Choral Society has announced the winners of its 25th annual High School Composition Contest. Cranford High School student Asher Shectman’s piece “By Day” won first prize and will be sung at Harmonium’s “Open Hearts” concerts on Friday, June 3, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 5, at 3 p.m., both at Our Lady of Sorrows, 217 Prospect St. in South Orange. There was a three-way tie for second place; second-place winners are Alexander DeStefano of Holy Spirit High School in Absecon, Katie Nieto of Kinnelon High School and Lux Onigman of Morristown High School.

“I am in awe of the talent of our student composers and thrilled to be supporting them for 25 years,” artistic director Anne Matlack said. “The top four pieces were so outstanding we had to declare a three-way tie for second place this year. I wish time allowed us to perform them all, and I look forward to great things from all these young composers.”

In addition to debuting the contest winner, Harmonium Choral Society’s “Open Hearts” concerts will feature two other world premieres — “Love Will Rise Again” by Mark Miller and Amanda Harberg’s “This!” — as well as works by Eric Whitacre, Daniel Pinkham, Moses Hogan and more. The select chamber singers will perform “What Do You Think I Fought For at Omaha Beach,” by Melissa Dunphy. Guest musicians include Kristine Lamb on flute and Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil on harmonium. Tickets are on sale now at

Grand prize winner Asher Shectman is a senior at Cranford High School. He is a self-taught pianist, bassist, guitarist, drummer, arranger and composer. He plays percussion and conducts in his school’s concert and marching bands, and also participates in the concert choir, madrigal choir, jazz band, musicals and a cappella group. He won the 2021 contest with his piece “Alchemy,” which was performed in March’s “Resilience” concert. He will be studying composition at Berklee College of Music in the fall.

Photo Courtesy of Harmonium Choral Society