The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced that Seattle-based composer Huck Hodge, who also serves as an Associate Professor and the Chair of the Composition Department at the University of Washington, has been named the recipient of Charles Ives Living Award. The selection committee—John Harbison (chairman), Aaron Jay Kernis, Fred Lerdahl, Alvin Singleton, and Augusta Read Thomas—studied scores and recordings over a six-month period to arrive at their choice of Huck Hodge, who is only the sixth person ever to receive this significant cash prize which currently consists of an income of $100,000 a year for two years. The appropriately-named award, given that its namesake famously balanced composing music with a career in the insurance business, is designed to allow a composer to work exclusively on music. According to the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ press release, “Although the Charles Ives Living winner agrees to forgo all salaried employment during the award period, there is no restriction on accepting composition commissions.” Upon receiving news of the award, Hodge commented, “What foresight to enable that future generations of composers might not have to starve on their dissonances! I hope that I can return even a little of this generosity in the music I will write.”
Harmony Ives, the widow of Charles Ives, left to the Academy the royalties from her husband’s music to establish a fund for prizes in music composition. Since 1970, the Academy has given 166 Ives scholarships, 54 Ives fellowships, and two Charles Ives Opera Prizes. Previous recipients of Ives Living Award, established in 1988, have been Martin Bresnick (1998), Chen Yi (2001), Stephen Hartke (2004), George Tsontakis (2007), and James Matheson (2012). Hodge has previously been awarded a 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2010-2011 Rome Prize, and the 2008 Gaudeamus Prize; and in 2014, New World Records released a recording devoted exclusively to his music.