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2020 Governor's Award Winner Jesse Ayers

Governor's Awards 2020: Jesse Ayers, Individual Artist Award Winner

Jesse Ayers, DMA, is an award-winning composer and a professor emeritus of music at Malone University in Canton, Ohio. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Jesse began composing in his early teens, and at age 17 was invited by the legendary WJ Julian to conduct the University of Tennessee's top concert band in a performance of his first work for band. In 2011, Jesse was awarded the inaugural American Prize for Orchestral Composition and was named an “Honored Artist” of the American Prize in 2014. His music has been performed throughout the world in countries including Japan, South Africa, Poland, Slovenia, Hungary, and Portugal, as well as in more than 100 U.S. cities.

Best known for his orchestral and symphonic band "surround-sound" concert stories that explore the intersection of the spiritual and natural worlds and the redemptive intervention of God in the affairs of the human race, Jesse has been honored with several Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards and was most recently named 2019 Ohio Music Teachers Association Composer of the Year. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the University of Tennessee and his doctorate in music composition from the University of Kentucky.

Since its beginning in 1971, the Governor's Awards has recognized individuals and organizations who have been vital to the growth and development of Ohio's cultural resources. One of the most prestigious arts events in Ohio, the Governor's Awards showcases and celebrates exceptional Ohio artists, arts organizations, arts leaders and patrons, and business support of the arts. Governor's Awards recipients are honored at a luncheon ceremony in Columbus, where they are presented with the only arts award in the state that is conferred by the governor. Each award winner receives an original piece of artwork created specifically for the event by an Ohio artist and the opportunity to share their story with other arts supporters statewide.

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Video by the Ohio Channel

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