Announcing the 2023 Holiday Caption Contest Winners!

And the winner is…..Raul Kottler!

Winning Captions

First place: Can’t we warm up first? by Raul Kottler (Violist/Composer, Oak View, CA)

Second place: No, the weather outside’s delightful – it’s the fire inside that’s frightful by Ken Margolis (Clarinetist, Chappaqua, NY)

Third place: Sure beats holding a broomstick! by Rebecca Sayles (Flutist, Westmoreland, NH)

ACMP’s 2nd annual Holiday Caption Contest was a resounding success! We received 96 captions from 44 ACMP members – exactly twice as many participants as last year. The cartoonist (that’s me!) was overwhelmed by the sheer variety of ideas. I enjoyed watching all the captions come in, as I draw these cartoons with absolutely no preconceptions of what a possible interpretation could be. Until my hand starts moving, I don’t even know what I am going to draw, although, chances are it will involve a snowman. ACMP members are an imaginative and quick-witted bunch. In fact, this year we received a submission with three very funny captions within seven minutes of the newsletter announcement…

There is literally nothing as subjective as humor, and from my perspective, everyone who sent me a caption (or up to three) was a winner. Moreover, you all made my day! Thanks to all who submitted captions and to the team of people who helped choose this year’s winners.

And stay tuned – soon you will be able to purchase ACMP holiday cards and cocktail napkins with this year’s winning caption.


About the Winners


Raul Kottler

In great company! Left to right: J.S. Bach, RAUL KOTTLER, Ludwig van Beethoven

I couldn’t resist this photo. Here’s a more realistic likeness of Raul, below.

The real Raul Kottler with his viola. (Note the metronome and little figurines in the background, on the piano.)

Raul Kottler was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1951 to an engineer father and pianist mother.  He loved hearing her play the tango, but mother/son mutually agreed they were not a good match as teacher/pupil.  So when the family moved to Queens, New York, he started violin lessons in the NYC public schools.  As a violin major at the University of California at Irvine (UCI), he was asked to bolster the orchestra’s viola section (because there are never enough violas!) and discovered an affinity for the alto clef.  Though music was always on his mind and fingers, he decided to follow his father’s pragmatic advice to complete his degree in mechanical engineering.  After a long and fulfilling engineering career, all the while playing in community orchestras and amateur string quartets, he now gets to spend more time composing.  His violin-stand partner in the UCI orchestra is now his spouse of fifty-two years.  They play string quartets weekly with two other local musicians of a similar age and disposition.  Besides Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, etc., they sometimes play Raul’s compositions, which can be seen/heard at raulkottler.com.  

Further congratulations are due to Raul, who was recently a finalist in the Northern California Viola Society Composition Contest. The new piece Viola Alone VII has yet to be premiered (any takers?) but you can follow the score and hear the Midi rendition here.

Find Raul in the ACMP Directory


Ken Margolis

Clarinetist Ken Margolis in Chappaqua, New York

With older siblings who were a clarinetist and flutist, Ken Margolis was supposed to play the oboe. Failing at that, he began studying the clarinet instead at age 8 at Interlochen. Over his school years he studied with Alfred Zetzer, of the Cleveland Orchestra, Keith Wilson and Richard Stoltzman at Yale, and Ulysse Delecluse in Paris.  Law school and raising children caused him to put the instrument aside for 25 years. Since picking it up again 15 years ago for a family gathering, he has participated in numerous chamber music workshops. A special treat has been connecting and playing with other musicians through ACMP’s member directory when visiting his grandchildren across the country.

Find Ken in the ACMP Directory


Rebecca Sayles

Flutist Rebecca Sayles at home in New Hampshire

I was so excited to see that Rebecca was one of this year’s Holiday Caption Contest winners. I have yet to meet her in person, but I am surrounded by evidence of her in the ACMP office and all our digital files, as she was a former Executive Director of ACMP. (It just proves that this job attracts smart, creative people – ha!)

Rebecca Sayles caught the chamber music bug at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, PA, where she was coached in a woodwind quintet on Saturday mornings as a pre-teenager. An accomplished amateur flutist, Rebecca currently plays in community ensembles in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts, and has been a workshop participant in the Chamber Music Conference and Composers’ Forum of the East since 2005. With playing opportunities scant during COVID, Rebecca took to the virtual world by entering–and winning–three solo competitions for adult amateur flutists sponsored respectively by the New York Flute Club, the National Flute Association, and the International Flute Flight Festival.

A member of ACMP since 1986, Rebecca served as its Executive Director from 2015 to 2016. Since moving to New Hampshire in 2016, Rebecca has served as Director of Development at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music (recipient of ACMP’s 2021 Susan McIntosh Lloyd Award) and as Interim Director of Development and Consultant to community music schools.

Her article, “From Women’s Clubs to Meetups:  Social Influences on Amateur Music-Making in America,” appears in the October/November 2019 issue of American Music Teacher.


Congratulations to all of our winners and to everyone who came up with an original caption for my cartoon!

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