James Edward May

2017 George J. Mitchell Scholar

James Edward May

James May

School of Music graduate student James May has been selected as the university’s first George J. Mitchell scholar, a prominent award given to just 12 Americans each year. The prize funds postgraduate study in Ireland that includes tuition, accommodations, travel expenses and a stipend.

Deemed one of the most significant awards in academia, candidates are selected based on scholarship, leadership and community service. He will use the scholarship to study new music production and performance at Ireland’s University College, Cork.

May has created over a dozen original compositions that have been performed by students and ensembles around the country. He has served as a peer mentor, volunteer program coordinator and student speech coach while an undergraduate student and currently teaches contemporary music at Louisville’s Youth Performing Arts School.


“I found out about the Mitchell through our scholarship coordinator, Dr. Patricia Condon. We were actually meeting to begin the process of putting together a Fulbright application, and in the course of our conversation, she mentioned that I should look into the Mitchell Scholarship. I applied for a number of reasons – my grandparents were from Ireland and I’m very invested in Irish culture and history, so I was excited that such a prestigious award existed to fund study there. I’ve also had a long-standing interest in music in Ireland, both traditional music and other genres, and the prospect of being part of that community was very exciting.”

Collegiate experience

  • Areas of Study:

    • Graduates May 2018 from the School of Music with a master’s degree in music composition.
    • Holds undergraduate degrees in music composition and English from The College of Wooster, 2016.
  • Additional Awards:

    • San Francisco Choral Artists New Voices Project composition prize for "The Garden," which included a monetary award and three premiere performances, 2017.
    • UofL’s The Bomhard Fellowship – the School of Music’s highest scholarship, which enables recipients to focus on composition and provides full tuition, a spending stipend and more, 2016.
    • The College of Wooster, Copeland Research Funding recipient - funding for an independent study thesis on Irish Literature including travel and research, 2015.
    • Phi Beta Kappa National Honors Society, 2015.
    • Fulbright Summer Institute Award, used for study in Ireland, 2013.

Inspired By

My fellow colleagues in the UofL and Wooster music departments, as well as other friends I’ve had the pleasure to work with throughout the country and across disciplines. Being surrounded by such curiosity, creativity, and wit has always motivated me to continue pursuing these opportunities.

I’d specifically like to thank Dr. Steve Rouse, Prof. Kimcherie Lloyd, and Dr. Krzysztof Wolek in the UofL music department for their mentorship, Dr. Pat Condon and the whole post-graduate scholarship team at UofL for their guidance and encouragement, and my undergraduate mentors Dr. Lisa Wong, Dr. Jack Gallagher, Dr. Peter Mowrey, Dr. Abby Shupe and Dr. John Pippen for fueling my earliest forays into the world of contemporary classical music.

Hometown information

  • Hometown:

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • High school:

    Central Catholic High School, graduated 2012
  • Parents:

    Brenda Joyce-May and Edward May of Pittsburgh