Meredith Monk, John Luther Adams, Anthony Braxton, John Kander, William Kraft, Pacific Serenades, the JACK Quartet, and the Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Composers Apprentice Project were honored by New Music USA during a private ceremony at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City on May 13, 2013. These awards, which were initially announced on October 29, 2012, continue the tradition of the American Music Center’s annual awards, originally established in 1964, for champions in the field of new American music.
Braxton, Kander, Adams, Kraft, and Pacific Serenades were recognized with Letters of Distinction. This award acknowledges those who have made a significant contribution to the field of contemporary American music. Recipients over the last six decades have included Laurie Anderson, Leonard Bernstein, Dave Brubeck, John Cage, Dizzy Gillespie, William Schuman, Stephen Sondheim, Cecil Taylor, Virgil Thomson, Joan Tower, Dawn Upshaw, La Monte Young, the American Composers Orchestra, Bang on a Can, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Kronos Quartet, the Modern Jazz Quartet, New World Records, and radio station KPFA in Berkeley.
Meredith Monk received the 2013 Founders Award. This award, which was established in 1999, is reserved for previous Letter of Distinction recipients to celebrate lifetime achievement in the field of new American music. Previous recipients include Elliott Carter, John Duffy, Philip Glass, John Harbison, Lou Harrison, Milton Babbitt, Gunther Schuller, and Steve Reich.
The Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Composers Apprentice Project received the New Music Educator Award, an award established in 2006 which honors conductors, professors, lecturers, academics, and others who have made important contributions in the realm of education, and who might not always be well known to the rest of the new music community. Previous recipients of the award include musicologist Charles Hamm, the New World Symphony, and the Walden School. Finally, the JACK Quartet received the Trailblazer Award. Instituted in 2003, the award honors those deserving of commendation and support for their early and mid-career efforts in championing new music. Previous awardees include Derek Bermel, Matt Haimovitz, eighth blackbird, the International Contemporary Ensemble, and So Percussion.
All of the 2013 awardees were in attendance during the ceremony with the exception of Anthony Braxton whose award was accepted on his behalf by composer Taylor Ho Bynum, the executive director of Braxton’s Tri-Centric Foundation. In addition to the presentation of the awards, the ceremony included a screening of a short video about New Music USA and music by Meredith Monk performed by members of The M6 alongside members of Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble. In addition, Face The Music, a NYC-based youth ensemble under the direction of Jenny Undercofler which is devoted exclusively to the performance of contemporary music, played work by Julia Wolfe and FTM ensemble member Ethan Cohn, who also led a jazz trio comprised of FTM members during the reception following the ceremony. For more photos from the event, please see New Music USA’s Flickr page.