The American Academy of Arts and Letters announced today the 18 recipients of this year’s awards in music, which total $225,000. The winners were selected by a committee of Academy members: Chen Yi (chair), Robert Beaser, Martin Bresnick, Stephen Hartke, George Lewis, Shulamit Ran, and Julia Wolfe. The awards will be presented virtually at the Academy’s Ceremonial on May 19, 2021. Candidates for music awards are nominated by the 300 members of the Academy.
Four composers—Gabriela Frank, Annie Gosfield, David Sanford, and Trevor Weston—will receive $10,000 Arts and Letters Awards in Music, which honor outstanding artistic achievement and acknowledge composers who have arrived at their own voice. They will each receive an additional $10,000 to record their work and will also have their music presented in a concert at the Academy in the spring of 2022.
Yotam Haber will receive the $20,000 Benjamin Danks Award, which is given in rotation to a composer of ensemble works, a playwright, and a writer, and is made possible through a gift from Roy Linden Danks to encourage young talent. Shawn Okpebholo will be the recipient of the Walter Hinrichsen Award in Music, established in 1984 by the C. F. Peters Corporation, music publishers, which is given for the publication of a work by a gifted composer. Juri Seo will receive the $10,000 Andrew Imbrie Award which is given to a composer of demonstrated artistic merit in mid-career.
Harmony Ives, the widow of Charles Ives, bequeathed to the Academy the royalties of Charles Ives’s music, which has enabled the Academy to give awards in composition since 1970. Two Charles Ives Fellowships of $15,000 each and six Charles Ives Scholarships of $7,500 each are awarded annually. The two 2021 Charles Ives Fellowships will be awarded to Gabriel Kahane ∙ Narong Prangcharoen, and the six 2021 Charles Ives Scholarships will be awarded to William Dougherty, Alexis Lamb, Ehud Perlman, Frances Pollock, Joel Thompson, and Shelley Washington.
Two Goddard Lieberson Fellowships of $15,000 each, endowed in 1978 by the CBS Foundation, are given annually to mid-career composers of exceptional gifts. The 2021 awardees are Lei Liang and Tyshawn Sorey.
Finally, Wang Lu will receive the $10,000 Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond Award in Music Composition which was established through a bequest from Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers. Early members included Childe Hassam, Julia Ward Howe, Henry James, Edward MacDowell, Theodore Roosevelt, John Singer Sargent, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton. The Academy’s 300 members are elected for life and pay no dues. In addition to electing new members as vacancies occur, the Academy seeks to foster and sustain an interest in literature, music, and the visual arts by administering over 70 awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding performances of new works of musical theater, and purchasing artwork for donation to museums across the country.
[Photo credits: William Dougherty, photograph by Judith Schlosser; Gabriela Frank, photograph by Mariah Tauger; Annie Gosfield, photograph by Josh Gosfield; Yotam Haber, photograph by Bryan Tarnowski; Gabriel Kahane, photograph by Josh Goleman; Alexis Lamb, photograph by David Joseffy; Lei Liang, photograph by Alex Matthews; Shawn Okpebholo, photograph by Greg Halvorsen Schreck; Ehud Perlman, photograph by Michael Pavia; Frances Pollock, photograph by Lindley Battle; Narong Prangcharoen, photograph by Sakchai Guy; David Sanford, photograph by Tony Rinaldo; Juri Seo, photograph by Andrew Wilkinson; Tyshawn Sorey, photograph by John Rogers; Joel Thompson, photograph by Rachel Cheong; Wang Lu, photograph by Giorgia Fanelli; Shelley Washington, photograph by Peter Yankowsky; Trevor Weston, photograph by Bill Cardoni.]