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Recently in Awards & Honors Category

NEA Opera Honors

John Adams

NEA Chooses Five for 2009 Opera Honors

By Anne Midgette
Washington Post

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced the second crop of winners of the new NEA Opera Honors, established last year under then-NEA Chairman Dana Gioia.

The five 2009 honorees are composer John Adams; stage director Frank Corsaro; mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne; stage director and former general manager of the San Francisco Opera Lotfi Mansouri; and conductor Julius Rudel.

Read more about this at the Washington Post website:

End of an Era


Pressler Bids Adieu To Beaux Arts Trio

By Tom Huizenga

If they had an Olympic medal for "Long-Distance Chamber Music," the gold would surely go to the Beaux Arts Trio. After a 53-year run, the ensemble – made up of one piano, one violin and one cello – takes the stage Thursday night at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts, to give its final U.S. performance before calling it quits.

There is something Olympian about the Beaux Arts Trio. The group performed at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, just one of thousands of venues the ensemble has played during the last five decades.

It's fitting that the Beaux Arts Trio is returning to Tanglewood, because that's where it all began. The group gave its first public concert there on July 13, 1955. And for 53 years, one member of the Trio has remained constant: pianist Menahem Pressler. He's 84 now, but he still vividly recalls how that first concert launched a career for three separate musicians who quickly grew into a single musical unit.

Read more about this at the NPR website:

America Honors Opera

Leontyne Price

NEA Launches National Opera Awards

By Anne Midgette
Washington Post

Think of American art forms, and opera doesn't typically spring to mind. But now the federal government is setting out to change that.

Yesterday the National Endowment for the Arts announced the four winners of the first annual NEA Opera Honors, the first new program of national arts awards since the Jazz Masters awards were established in 1982. The first opera honorees are the great soprano Leontyne Price, conductor James Levine (who has led the Metropolitan Opera for 32 years), composer Carlisle Floyd ("Susannah") and administrator Richard Gaddes, who will retire this year from the Santa Fe Opera. Each will receive $25,000 in a ceremony on Oct. 31 at the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, since the Washington National Opera is the NEA's partner for this first presentation.

Read more about this at the Washington Post website:

2008 Pulitzer Prize in Music

David Lang by Klaus Rudolph

David Lang Wins Music Pulitzer

By Tom Huizenga

David Lang, a New York-based composer, has won the Pulitzer Prize for music with his piece, The Little Match Girl Passion, based on the children's story by Hans Christian Andersen.

Lang's music makes a big impact with small forces. The piece is scored for only four voices and a few percussion instruments, played by the singers. They sing the sad story of a little girl who freezes to death selling matches on the street during a cold winter's night.

In notes Lang wrote to accompany the Carnegie Hall premiere last October, he says he was drawn to Andersen's story because of how opposite aspects of the plot played off each other.

"The girl's bitter present is locked together with the sweetness of her past memories," Lang says. "Her poverty is always suffused with her hopefulness. There's a kind of naïve equilibrium between suffering and hope."

Lang was also intrigued by the religious allegory he saw beneath the surface of the story, and he found inspiration in the music of his favorite composer, J.S. Bach.

Read more about this, including an audio excerpt, at the NPR website: