J. Mark Scearce Wins 2009 Sackler Prize

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J. Mark Scearce

J. Mark Scearce has been named the recipient of the eighth Raymond and Beverly Sackler Music Composition Prize. The competition, organized by the University of Connecticut’s School of Fine Arts, supports and promotes composers and the performance of their new musical works. An international award, the prize offers a substantial recognition including public performances, recordings, and a prize of $20,000. Each year, entrants are asked to compose a piece for a specific area of the musical arts, chosen by the head and other faculty of the music department, such as a jazz ensemble, choir, opera, wind ensemble, or solo instrument. This year’s prize was for a Concerto for Cello and Orchestra.

J. Mark Scearce is the director of the music department at North Carolina State University. The recipient of five advanced degrees in music, philosophy, and religion, including a doctorate in music composition from Indiana University, Scearce previously served on the music faculties of the Universities of Hawaii, North Texas, and Southern Maine. With fifty active titles in his catalog, including musical settings of more than 120 texts, Scearce’s many works for orchestra, band, chorus, opera, chamber, and ballet have been performed throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific. His wide-ranging interests have led him to compose works inspired by contemporary issues and spiritual concerns. This Thread, a setting of Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison’s poem “The Dead of September 11,” was premiered by Orchestra Nashville in 2004, and Gaea’s Lament for solo cello was heard at a symposium on global climate change in 2007. Scearce currently has seven works commercially available on compact disc on the Albany, Delos, Warner Bros, Capstone, Centaur, and Equilibrium labels, and on a Sony 4-channel SACD (available online at frystreetquartet.com).

Past Sackler Prize Composition Winners:

2008 (Piano Concerto) Nathan Currier
2007 (Opera) Sheila Silver
2006 (Jazz Ensemble) Rufus Reid
2005 (Chamber Ensemble) Stacy Garrop
2004 (Chamber Orchestra) Orianna Webb
2003 (Chamber Orchestra) Karim Al-Zand
2002 (Chamber Ensemble) Gabriela Lena Frank

Scearce was chosen from among 60 entries from 10 countries and 18 states. Among the finalists were composers Kristen Kuster (from Ann Arbor, Michigan) and Peter Child (from Wellesley, Massachusetts). The prize was established through a gift from Raymond and Beverly Sackler, major philanthropists and frequent donors to the university. The Sacklers fund several important initiatives at the School of Fine Arts, including an artist-in-residence program, the Master Artists and Scholars Institute, and the Art and Archeology Lecture Series. The Sacklers were also instrumental in forging an academic partnership between the Metropolitan Opera and UConn, the first collaboration of its kind between the opera company and an institution of higher learning. In addition to the fine arts programs, the Sacklers fund many other initiatives at UConn. The 2007 adjudication panel was comprised of Robert Bernhardt, Geraldo Dirié, and David Tomatz.

(—Condensed from the press release)