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BARD FACULTY MEMBER GEORGE TSONTAKIS WINS $200,000 GRAWEMEYER MUSIC PRIZE FOR HIS VIOLIN CONCERTO NO. 2
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – American composer and Bard College faculty member George Tsontakis has been selected to receive the prestigious 2005 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his Violin Concerto No. 2.
“We’re delighted that George has been honored with this prestigious award. He is a brilliant composer and an extraordinary teacher. It is richly deserved,” said Bard College President Leon Botstein. Bard’s music faculty includes another Grawemeyer Music Prize winner, composer Joan Tower, who won the award in 1990 for her piece Silver Ladders.
Described by one music critic as “a work of gentle beauty and intriguing orchestral sounds,” Tsontakis's 20-minute concerto received its world premiere April 19, 2003, by Steven Copes, violin, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Miguel Harth-Bedoya. The concerto was recorded in September as part of a KOCH disc of the composer's works.
In this somewhat atypical concerto, the violin soloist acts as a sort of first among equals, rather than always as the star, with the accompanying chamber orchestra functioning in many places as a group of soloists itself. The composer states that "the concept of orchestral is diminished in deference to the concept of 'chamber.'"
Violin Concerto No. 2 was one of more than 160 entries from around the world. Tsontakis is the 19th winner of the Grawemeyer music prize. In addition to Tower, some previous winners include Gyorgy Ligeti, Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Thomas Ades, Tan Dun, John Corigliano, and, in 2004, Unsuk Chin.
A visiting faculty member of Bard College since 2003, and of the Aspen Music School in Aspen, Colorado, since 1976, Tsontakis was the founding director of the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble from 1991 until 1998. He studied composition with Roger Sessions at The Juilliard School, and he has directed the Riverside Orchestra and the Metropolitan Greek Chorale in New York.
Violin Concerto No. 2 joins a long list of award-winning works by Tsontakis. He twice has received Kennedy Center awards, in 1989 for String Quartet No. 4 and in 1992 for his orchestral work Perpetual Angelus. Pianist Stephen Hough's recording of Ghost Variations was nominated for a Grammy Award for best contemporary classical composition and was cited by Time magazine as the only classical recording among its 1998 Top Ten.
Tsontakis received the prestigious award for lifetime achievement from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1995 and was the Vilar Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in 2002.
Charles Grawemeyer was an industrialist, entrepreneur, and University of Louisville graduate who had a lifelong passion for music, education, and religious studies. Rather than rewarding personal achievements, he chose to recognize powerful ideas or creative works in the sciences, arts and humanities.
The Grawemeyer Foundation at the University of Louisville annually awards $1 million -- $200,000 each for works in music composition, education, ideas improving world order, religion and psychology.
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This event was last updated on 02-25-2005