Andrew Norman wins the $100,000 Grawemeyer Award for Music

Gramophone Tue 29th November 2016

Norman's 47-minute orchestral work 'Play' has won the 2017 award from the University of Louisville

Andrew Norman (photo: Jessa Anderson)

Andrew Norman (photo: Jessa Anderson)

Andrew Norman has won one of the most prestigious and financially profitable prizes in contemporary music, the Grawemeyer Award for Music, for his orchestral work Play. The 37-year-old American's piece was commissioned by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and premiered by BMOP in 2013 (you can find out more about BMOP in the November 2016 issue of Gramophone). It has since been revised by the composer and the new version was premiered by the LA Philharmonic in October.

In a frank interview with NPR Music, Norman said: 'to be written into a list of composers that includes so many of my heroes and mentors, is deeply humbling. I will work for the rest of my creative life to try to be worthy of the honor. But quite honestly, sometimes the recognition is actually bad for me. In my head it's tricky because now there's yet another layer of expectation even beyond what I might put on myself. It's like, "Oh, now I've got to have my act together".'

Norman also took the opportunity to address the issues of racial and sexual inequality in classical music: 'This award has been given to three women out of its 30-year history. And to me that's kind of an issue. And in all honesty, I'm a white man and I get lots of commissions and there are systemic reasons for that, reasons we should all be talking about. There are so many talented composers out there. Rather than giving me another commission, why aren't we giving those people a commission?'

Recent winners of the Grawemeyer Award include Hans Abrahamsen (for let me tell you, the premiere recording of which also won the Gramophone Contemporary Award this year), Esa-Pekka Salonen (Violin Concerto, 2012) and Brett Dean (The Lost Art of Letter Writing, 2009).

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