Today, the Herb Alpert Foundation and California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) awarded the 21st Annual Herb Alpert Award in the Arts to five exceptional mid–career artists. You can see a complete list of the winners below, but the name of music award winner, Julia Wolfe, should sound especially familiar, because she was recently announced as the 2015 winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Music for her oratorio about coal miners, Anthracite Fields. We spoke about how she was drawn into the world of composing, her approach to projects and what she has coming up next.
Julia Wolfe’s music will be performed as part of the LA Phil’s Next on Grand Festival, a snapshot of contemporary American music from such established voices as Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and John Adams, to emergent ones, including Christopher Cerrone, Andrew Norman, Steven Mackey, and Caroline Shaw. Next on Grand takes place at Walt Disney Concert Hall May 19-31. Julia Wolfe’s oratorio Shelter, scored for three sopranos, chamber ensemble, and video, will be presented Sunday afternoon May 31 at 2pm, a collaboration with Wolfe’s Bang on a Can co-founders David Lang and Michael Gordon.
We also talked to artist and philanthropist Herb Alpert about what inspired him to create the artist awards and the inspiration that the artists bring him.
Here are all five of the Alpert Award Winners, with notes from the judging panels:
The Dance panel selected choreographer and artist Maria Hassabi for changing the nature of spectatorship, for challenging conventional ideas about performance, for stripping away busyness and the ornamentation of dancing, to allow for rare contemplative experience.
The Film/Video panel is honoring artist and filmmaker Sharon Lockhart for her films which combine structural rigor, formal exactitude, exquisite beauty, intimate attention, commitment to a cinema of duration, and a sympathetic ethnographic eye in a post-minimalist aesthetic entirely her own.
Composer Julia Wolfe is being recognized with the Music Award for her fresh, uncompromising artistry, her vibrant, direct, and emotionally powerful works generous and bold in spirit, and her engagement with socially conscious issues, a tradition that is passionately and unapologetically American to the core.
The Theatre panel celebrates theatre artist Taylor Mac for his fierce, disarming, beautiful, transgressive, emotionally vulnerable work; for social critique disguised as glitter, ambitious scope, and for effervescently rearranging audiences perceptions while creating a great time.
Artist Tania Bruguera was named the winner of the Visual Arts Award for the complexity, longevity, and urgency of her work, for her strong formal clarity and ongoing contribution to international conversations on freedom of speech and illegal immigration. They honor her for her commitment to resisting market pressures in order to seek an ethics of what art can do, and recognize the innovative ways she has reinvented the language of activism within contemporary culture.