Somehow, I missed last week's announcement that Julia Wolfe, co-founder of Bang on a Can, won this year's Pulitzer Prize for her oratorio Anthracite Fields, inspired by the coal miners near where she grew up Pennsylvania. With this award, Julia becomes the second of the three BOAC founders (after David Lang), as well as the second woman in three years, to win the Pulitzer. And, with last year's winning composition, John Luther Adams' Become Ocean, having been released on BOAC's Canteloupe Music label, there seems to be little question that the award has completed its shift away from the academic stranglehold it once suffered under.
In speaking with NPR's Tom Huizenga, Wolfe conveys the significance of the Pulitzer, both for her and for musicians:
"I've always been someone who challenges the system and tries to reach for something beyond the status quo, not do business as usual. This idea that you go your own route is very strong inside of me and so when you get recognition, the thing that is gratifying is that somebody says, 'Hey that's great. We appreciate what you're striving for.' This is one of those moments where the light shines on that so I would hope it supports that, supports reaching for something outside of the box."
A brief preview of Anthracite Fields and an excerpt below.