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Arts Alive Blog


Composer Alex Mincek Wins 2013 Alpert Award in the Arts

Posted By: Katie McMurran · 5/13/2013 12:45:00 PM


The Herb Alpert Foundation and the California Institute of the Arts announced this year's recipients of the Alpert Award in the Arts at a luncheon last week, with Brooklyn-based composer Alex Mincek taking home the prize in the music category.

Anthony Davis, one of the three members of a distinguished panel that selected Mincek, said the panelists were looking for someone who was "breaking the mold, not just following in the footsteps of other people...someone trying to create music in their own voice."

Mincek fit the description. A saxophonist as well as composer, his music is known for combining many (seemingly) disparate elements. He uses repetition, not like it is used in Minimalism, but to create instability, unpredictability and surprise. Mincek says discovering free jazz led him to composition, and improvisation is a key component of his work: "Even if something's highly notated, and there's no actual improvisation happening," Mincek says, "there's a kind of spirit of improvisation that I'm often trying to put forth or suggest."

Composer Mary Ellen Childs, another one of the panelists that selected Mincek, says it was his "individual" voice that made him a standout. "[It's] very strong, very detailed, but without getting so caught up in the details that the music doesn't still have a wonderful flow to it. He uses musical color in an interesting way."

The Alpert Award in the Arts were created by musician and artist Herb Alpert and his wife, singer Lani Hall, in 1995, and is administered by the California Institute of the Arts. Every year the awards recognize mid-career artists working in 5 categories: Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theater and Visual Arts.

"We wanted to take artists that didn't quite get to the promised land yet, and give them the encouragement to do whatever they have to do," Alpert says. 

"They're on the road less traveled, really." Lani Hall said. "And when you're there, you don't really get a lot of positive feedback because people are more or less judging you and want you to be doing what's popular, and it's a struggle to keep your confidence. Artists tip over very easily, their confidence level is very shaky."

To provide extra insurance that confidence doesn't falter, each of this year's winners will receive a $75,000 prize.

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