Julia Wolfe Awarded 2016 MacArthur Fellowship

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Julia Wolfe Julia Wolfe (Peter Serling)

Composer and Bang on a Can co-founder Julia Wolfe has been awarded a 2016 MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship.

On the site of the MacArthur Foundation, President Julia Stasch writes “While our communities, our nation, and our world face both historic and emerging challenges, these 23 extraordinary individuals give us ample reason for hope. They are breaking new ground in areas of public concern, in the arts, and in the sciences, often in unexpected ways. Their creativity, dedication, and impact inspire us all.”

Recipients are awarded $625,000, distributed over the course of five years. 

In 2015, Wolfe was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music for Anthracite Fields, an oratorio about coal miners in Pennsylvania. Her Steel Hammer – a song cycle about the folk hero John Henry – was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist. Along with David Lang and Michael Gordon, Wolfe founded Bang on a Can in 1987; the institution has grown from a composers' collective to encompass a record label (Cantaloupe Records), a summer institute at MassMoCA, an annual marathon of new music, a commissioning fund (The People's Commissioning Fund), touring band the Bang on a Can All-Stars and OneBeat – a residency that brings together American musicians and musicians from developing countries.

Wolfe's writing credits include music for ETHEL, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Munich Chamber Orchestra, the BBC Orchestra, Trio Mediaeval and Trinity Choir, among others. In its 2018-19 season, the New York Philharmonic will premiere a new, evening-length piece about women in the American work force. She currently teaches composition at New York University's Steinhardt School.

The MacArthur Foundation notes: "Wolfe is engaging audiences of all types through her restless explorations of various musical styles and her ability to synthesize many forms of expression—music, narrative, movement, imagery—into major compositions."

Watch the MacArthur Foundation's video portrait of Julia Wolfe:


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