The American Academy of Arts and Letters have honored two BMI composers with the country’s two largest prizes for composers of vocal music: the Virgil Thomson Award and the Charles Ives Opera Prize. Composer, performer, and writer Kate Soper, whose work has been called “bold, varied, and forward-looking,” will receive $40,000 as the winner of the prestigious Virgil Thomson Award in Vocal Music, endowed by the Virgil Thomson Foundation. Composer Lewis Spratlan, who has also been the recipient of Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and NEA fellowships, has been awarded the Charles Ives Opera Prize, made possible by the royalty income from the legendary American composer’s music. Spratlan will receive a $35,000 prize for his work Life is a Dream, which he wrote with librettist James Maraniss (the latter receives a $15,000 award), and which made its world premiere at the Santa Fe Opera in 2010.
Candidates were nominated by the Academy’s composer members, and winners chosen by a special jury of members. The awards, which will be given at the annual Ceremonial in mid-May “reflect the essential mission of the Academy: to recognize, identify, and reward works of highest aspiration and superior craft by contemporary artists in our culture,” said American Academy of Arts and Letters President, Yehudi Wyner.
Congratulations to both composers on their tremendous contributions to the American musical legacy.