Composer of the Year Julia Wolfe was an important American composer, long before women composers were in vogue. She was finally recognized when her hour-long oratorio Anthracite Fields, received the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Music and, the following year, she was named a MacArthur Fellow, receiving the highly prestigious $250,000 “genius” grant. Cofounder of the pioneering new-music consortium Bang on a Can, back in 1987, on the faculty of New York University, Wolf’s current commissions include Fire in My Mouth, which the New York Philharmonic will premiere in January and an as-yet untitled co-commission by Carnegie Hall and the New World Symphony, which the latter will premiere in May under Michael Tilson Thomas. She is also composer-in-residence at the Dallas Symphony.
Of Ensemble of the Year the JACK Quartet, Allan Kozinn writes, “This group’s fresh, energetic, and stylistically omnivorous approach to the contemporary repertoire makes it a worthy heir to the tradition of new music quartets that goes back to the Composers Quartet in the 1960s and rivals the Kronos and Arditti Quartets of today.” He calls the size and range of JACK’s repertoire “truly astonishing” and, notes that, in addition to a breakneck touring and recording (34 and counting) schedule, its four members—two of them new since 2016—are also teachers, with regular residencies at the University of Iowa, the Boston University Center for New Music, and, through 2019, Duke University.