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Composer Tyshawn Sorey Wins 2024 Pulitzer Prize in Music

By Sara Schabas on May 13, 2024

Tyshawn Sorey
Tyshawn Sorey (Courtesy photo)

The composer and multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey has been awarded the 2024 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his piece Adagio (for Wadada Leo Smith). Sorey describes the piece as a stately, understated work for saxophone and orchestra that treasures intimacy over spectacle. The work was co-commissioned by the Lucerne Festival and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

What’s up: On May 6th, 2024, the Pulitzer Prize announced its annual award recipients. Tyshawn Sorey, the Newark-based composer, multi-instrumentalist and composition faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, took home the musical award for his 2023 composition for saxophone and orchestra Adagio (for Wadada Leo Smith). Sorey frequently dedicates his compositions to artists he admires and named this one for the trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith.

Refresher: Tyshawn Sorey is no stranger to public acclaim. Adagio (for Wadada Leo Smith) follows his 2023 nomination for the Pulitzer for his composition Monochromatic Light (Afterlife). Sorey was a 2017 MacArthur Fellow and a 2018 United States Artists Fellow. His music is notable for its transcendence of traditional genres, blurring the lines between classical and jazz and redefining the world of musical improvisation. An archival recording of his introspective, genre-defying and now Pulitzer-winning work is available here.

Sara Schabas
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