Congratulations to Ellen Reid, whose opera p r i s m, on a libretto by Roxie Perkins, has won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Music. The première took place at Redcat, in Los Angeles, under the auspices of L.A. Opera and Beth Morrison Projects; I wrote about it here. I first encountered Reid’s work when she contributed a memorable outdoor scene to Yuval Sharon’s multi-composer Hopscotch project. Andrew Norman’s Sustain was one of two finalists, alongside James Romig’s Still. I heard Sustain at the LA Phil and found it be one of the strongest American orchestral works of recent years. I missed Romig’s piece, which was recorded by New World, but will be sure to explore it. For an exploration of recent trends in the music Pulitzer, read Will Robin in the New York Times. After the surprise win last year by the hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar, it is tempting to say that the Pulitzer has reverted to the old routine. However, the likes of Reid, Du Yun, and Henry Threadgill hardly conform to academic models and represent a real diversification in terms of style and subject matter. The lack of a celebrity name will undoubtedly minimize attention this year, but these choices still matter.
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