Major composition prizes awarded

Kate Soper and Lewis Spratlan have received two of the biggest prizes in modern composition. Soper has won the Virgil Thomson Award in Vocal Music, which comes with a USD40,000 (€35,350) cash sum. Spratlan – along with librettist James Maraniss – was recognised with the Charles Ives Opera Prize and USD35,000 (Maraniss received USD15,000).

The annual awards are given out by American Academy of Arts and Letters, a society of 250 architects, composers, artists and writers. It promotes and sustains interest in literature, music and fine arts through exhibitions, awards and by purchasing and donating art works to museums.

‘Soper’s vocal music is bold, varied, and forward-looking,’ said academy member John Harbison. ‘There is joy, wit, shock, and allure in her pieces, all grounded by something meticulous and exacting.’

Harbison also praised Spratlan – who won for his opera Life is a Dream that premiered at Santa Fe Opera in 2010 – as a composer who: ‘shines with independence. Spratlan relies on a constantly fresh, inventive orchestral narrative to take us to the heart of the drama.’

Life is a Dream
Life is a Dream at Santa Fe Opera

The winners were chosen by a jury of Academy members, after an initial group of candidates was selected by the Academy’s composers. Prizes are handed out at a ceremony in mid-May.