Sixteen Composers Receive American Academy of Arts and Letters 2009 Awards


The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced the sixteen recipients of this year’s awards in music, which total $170,000.

  • David Gompper, David Lang, Andrew Waggoner, and Barbara White received the Academy Award in Music ($7500, plus an additional $7500 toward the recording of one work), which honors outstanding artistic achievement and acknowledges the composer who has arrived at his or her own voice.

  • Sean Shepherd received the Benjamin H. Danks Award ($20,000), given to a composer of ensemble works.

  • Laura Elise Schwendinger and Kurt Stallmann were awarded Goddard Lieberson fellowships ($15,000, endowed in 1978 by the CBS Foundation) awarded to mid-career composers of exceptional gifts.

  • Victoria Bond received the Walter Hinrichsen Award (established by the C. F. Peters Corporation in 1984) for the publication of a work by a gifted composer.

In addition, Harmony Ives, the widow of Charles Ives, bequeathed to the Academy the royalties of Charles Ives’ music, which has enabled the Academy to give the Ives awards in music since 1970.

  • Yu-Hui Chang and Ray Lustig were awarded Charles Ives Fellowships ($15,000 each).

  • Matthew Barnson, Ryan Gallagher, Michael Gilbertson, David M. Gordon, Andrew Norman, and Carolyn O’Brien will receive Charles Ives Scholarships of $5000, given to composition students of great promise.

The winners were selected by a committee of Academy members: Robert Beaser (chairman), Martin Bresnick, John Corigliano, Mario Davidovsky, and Shulamit Ran. The awards will be presented at the Academy’s annual Ceremonial in May. Candidates for music awards are nominated by the 250 members of the Academy.

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Announced separately, two musicals were awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater: Cheer Wars by Karlan Judd (music) and Gordon Leary (book and lyrics); and Rosa Parks by Scott Ethier (music) and Jeff Hughes (book and lyrics). The award, which was determined by a jury chaired by Stephen Sondheim, provides the resources for each winning work to receive a staged reading.

Richard Rodgers, who was elected to the Academy in 1955, endowed these awards in 1978, a year before his death. They are the Academy’s only awards for which applications are accepted. Winners in previous years include: Jonathan Larson’s Rent; Maury Yeston’s Nine; and Juan Darien by Elliot Goldenthal and Julie Taymor.—Condensed from the press release