prev nav.svgnext nav.svgback to top.svg
Committee Updates

OMEA Young Composers Initiative (OMEAYCI)

Photo caption: L-R: Alex Immel, Matthew Sperling, Ryan Alexis, Rob Cebriak, Don Nathan, Matt Guirreri, Theodore Lovinski, Jennifer Merkowitz
The OMEA Young Composers Initiative was created in 2019 to encourage, foster, and promote musical creativity across Ohio’s young music students. Each year, we invite young composers to submit pieces for a featured ensemble. Applications are submitted by an OMEA member sponsor through the OMEA portal. The submissions are judged by the YCI board, a group of professional composers teaching in higher education programs around the state. The OMEA YCI board is Dr. Jennifer Merkowitz, chair (Otterbein University), Dr. Marc Ainger (Ohio State University), Dr. Robert McClure (Ohio University), Dr. Marilyn Shrude (Bowling Green State University), and Dr. Aurie Hsu (Oberlin Conservatory).
The fourth Young Composers Initiative Composition Competition Concert took place at the OMEA PDC on Saturday, February 3, 2024. The concert featured three pieces composed by our YCI finalists: Suite Nouveau by Alex Immel (Dundee, Ohio; sponsored by Aaron Morris), Core of the Heart by Theodore Lovinski (Kent, Ohio; sponsored by Perry Roth), and Chaos in the Face of Confusion by Matthew Sperling (Jackson Township, Ohio; sponsored by Michele Monigold). Prior to the event, winning composers received two virtual lessons on their scores with YCI board members. At the concert, students received feedback and suggestions from the performers on their scores. They were also introduced and recognized by Dr. Michael R. Crist, OMEA Past President, who was instrumental in the creation of the YCI.
Each piece was performed by this year’s featured ensemble, the Nexus Saxophone Quartet. The Nexus Quartet is comprised of veteran music educators and performers from central Ohio. Members of the quartet—Ryan Alexis, Rob Cebriak, Matt Guirreri, and Don Nathan—have over 100 combined years of serving the music education community in central Ohio and beyond. Known for their versatile repertoire, Nexus strives to highlight the timeless beauty of the saxophone quartet genre as well as champion contemporary music by performing new compositions. For more information about the Nexus Saxophone Quartet, please visit
The OMEAYCI is an ongoing initiative, and we anticipate putting a call out for submissions to be performed at the 2025 OMEA PDC in late spring/early summer. Details will be posted at Please direct any questions to Dr. Jennifer Merkowitz (