During the American Academy of Arts and Letters annual Ceremonial on May 20, 2009, three new composers were inducted into the Academy—Stephen Hartke, Frederic Rzewski, and Augusta Read Thomas—and nineteen additional composers were presented awards in music, totaling $170,000. The winners were selected by a committee of Academy members: Robert Beaser (chairman), Martin Bresnick, John Corigliano, Mario Davidovsky, and Shulamit Ran. Candidates for music awards are nominated by the 250 members of the Academy.
Leon Kirchner was one of two recipients of the Gold Medal, the Academy’s highest honor, in recognition of his lifetime achievement as a composer. This year’s other Gold Medal recipient was poet Mark Strand. David Gompper, David Lang, Andrew Waggoner, and Barbara White were each given a $7,500 Academy Award in Music. The award honors outstanding artistic achievement and acknowledges composers who have arrived at their own voice. Each will receive an additional $7,500 toward the recording of one work.
Sean Shepherd received the Benjamin H. Danks Award of $20,000, given to a composer of ensemble works. Laura Elise Schwendinger and Kurt Stallmann each received a $15,000 Goddard Lieberson Fellowship. This fellowship, named after composer and record executive Goddard Lieberson, was endowed in 1978 by the CBS Foundation and is given to mid-career composers of exceptional gifts. Victoria Bond received the Walter Hinrichsen Award for the publication of a work by a gifted composer. This award was established by the C. F. Peters Corporation, music publishers, in 1984.
Yu-Hui Chang and Ray Lustig each received a $15,000 Charles Ives Fellowship. In addition, six Charles Ives Scholarships of $5,000, given to composition students of great promise, were awarded to Matthew Barnson, Ryan Gallagher, Michael Gilbertson, David M. Gordon, Andrew Norman, and Carolyn O’Brien. Harmony Ives, widow of Charles Ives, bequeathed to the Academy the royalties of Charles Ives’s music, which has enabled the Academy to give the Ives awards in music since 1970.
Finally, the Richard Rodgers Award in Musical Theater was given to two musicals: Cheer Wars by Karlan Judd and Gordon Leary; and Rosa Parks by Scott Ethier and Jeff Hughes. The award provides financial support for staged readings. (—Condensed from the press release)