The Heinz Family Foundation has announced that composer and pianist Gabriela Lena Frank is one of recipients of the 2020 Heinz Award. Now in its 25th year, the annual awards, established in 1993 by Heinz Family Foundation Chairwoman Teresa Heinz, in honor of her late husband, Senator H. John Heinz III, recognize outstanding individuals for their innovative contributions in five areas: Arts and Humanities; Environment; Human Condition; Public Policy; and Technology, the Economy and Employment. The five award recipients each receive an unrestricted prize of US$250,000 and a cast silver medallion. The other 2020 awardees are Linda Behnken (Environment), Molly Baldwin (Human Condition), Katy Kozhimannil (Public Policy), Alfa Demmellash and Alex Forrester (Technology, the Economy and Employment), and MIT Ford Professor of Economics David Autor, who is being given a special award commemorating the 25th Heinz Awards Anniversary. The previous composers who have received the award, in the Arts and Humanities category, are John Luther Adams, Mason Bates, and John Harbison. Dr. Frank is the first female composer to be so honored.
According to the Heinz Award website, Frank has been honored “for her brilliant compositions that weave the colors, sounds and mythology of Latin America into classical constructs, and for breaking cultural and gender barriers in classical music composition.” She has additionally been recognized “for establishing the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, which provides professional mentorship to emerging composers from all music backgrounds, guiding them to become artists who prioritize eco-conscious ways of making music as well as giving back to their community. Dr. Frank accepts aspiring composers with diverse backgrounds from across the globe, including those who have typically avoided western styles of composition. As part of their residency, composer participants, together with their mentor performers, volunteer their time through performances and music coaching in the surrounding Anderson Valley.”
Gabriela Lena Frank is leading a discussion/performance session called Breaking Barriers in Classical Music on Wednesday, November 18 from 3:00-4:00 PM EST, which is free and open to the public but requires advance registration.