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Henry Threadgill wins 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Music

Henry Threadgill

In for a Penny, In for a Pound by Henry Threadgill (released on Pi Recordings on May 26, 2015) has been named the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Music. In addition, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton has been awarded the 2016 Pulizter Prize for Drama.

Muhal Richard Abrams: Think All, Focus One

Muhal Richard Abrams sitting in front of the New Music USA mural (created by the staff at New Music USA in 2015)

To Muhal Richard Abrams, there are no boundaries. Any label we put on something—fixed composition vs. spontaneous improvisation, group vs. individual, even old music vs. new music—is artificial and limits possibilities. From his vantage point, all dualities are contained within each other.

Saad Haddad: It’s Not Going to Be Exact

Saad Haddad

Though born, raised, and compositionally trained in Southern California and currently pursuing a master’s degree at Juilliard under the tutelage of John Corigliano, 23-year-old Saad Haddad has been focused on creating music that incorporates traditional Middle Eastern musical aesthetics. But he is not at all dogmatic in his transfer of Arabic music theory to pieces that are designed to be interpreted by musicians trained in Western classical music and performed for its usual audiences.

Missy Mazzoli: Communication, Intimacy, and Vulnerability

Missy Mazzoli in her composition studio.

Whether she is writing for orchestra, chorus, solo piano, an opera, or her own indie-rock inspired chamber ensemble Victoire, Missy Mazzoli is still “asking the same questions” and “finding different answers to the question of how to bring an intimate, vulnerable, human experience to a situation.”

Composer Advocacy Notebook: A Tale of Three Cities

Man sticking hand inside tuba bell shaped bowl next to another man holding a doll wearing an elf cap.

Over the course of the last eight weeks I attended three significant national music events which were extremely different from each other in terms of scope and scale—the 2016 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, the annual Chamber Music America conference, and the Midwest Clinic, the world’s largest music gathering.

Rudresh Mahanthappa: Getting To Know Who I Am

Rudresh Mahanthappa standing in the yard outside his home with trees and a hill behind him.

Rudresh Mahanthappa explores his composite cultural identity through an extremely wide range of fascinating musical activities. Some of these projects have been direct attempts to synthesize contemporary jazz and much older Indian traditions. Perhaps even more intriguing, however, has been music in which jazz and Carnatic elements co-exist alongside many other components.

Royce Vavrek: So Many Juicy, Amazing Words

Royce Vavrek sitting down in front of a graffiti-strewn wall.

While an extremely wide range of composers are writing operas in the United States today, many of these disparate operas share an important trait—a libretto written by someone who was born in Alberta, Canada: Royce Vavrek. The gregarious Vavrek at first seems like an unlikely candidate for the mysterious, and regretfully somewhat anonymous, profession of writing opera librettos, but he loves telling stories and collaboration.

About Those 2016 Grammy Nominations

The official social profile image for the Grammy Awards, a cartoon of an old horn gramophone.

Media pundits will probably debate whether the latest from Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, or The Weeknd will get the nod as 2016 Album of the Year, but the choice for Best Contemporary Classical Composition might ultimately be more interesting; it certainly seems even more competitive.

Mary Jane Leach: Sonic Confessions

MJLHomepage

For decades Mary Jane Leach has been composing music that explores and exploits various psychoacoustic “ghost” sounds such as beat tones and combination tones. As a result, she has created numerous works for multiples of the same instrument or voice. She is also drawn to physical spaces where such sonic phenomena are at their most pronounced, such as churches, which is why she lives in one.

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