The Hermitage Artist Retreat, along with its partner, The Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS), is pleased to announce the winner of the annual Hermitage Prize to Joel Thompson, a summer composing student at AMFS who, in addition, is finishing an advanced degree at Arizona State University

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ATLANTA COMPOSER JOEL THOMPSON WINS HERMITAGE PRIZE

Englewood, FL/Aspen, CO: The Hermitage Artist Retreat, along with its partner, The Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS), is pleased to announce the winner of the annual Hermitage Prize to Joel Thompson, a summer composing student at AMFS who, in addition, is finishing an advanced degree at Arizona State University. The Prize was awarded at the conclusion of the Composer Showcase. Thompson was selected by a prestigious jury that included Robert Spano, AMFS music director, Alan Fletcher, AMFS president and CEO, Stephen Hartke and Christopher Theofanidis, composers-in-residence. As winner of the Prize, Thompson receives a six-week residency at the prestigious, invitation-only Retreat, along with a $1000 stipend for travel and food expense. Thompson is the fifth emerging composer to receive the award.

“The Hermitage Prize and its partnership with the AMFS has been very rewarding for us,” remarked Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director of the Hermitage Artist Retreat. “We support mid-career artists of every discipline; busy, successful creators immersed in their careers. Only one artist a year, whose career is just starting out, is invited to come and that is the Aspen composer who wins the Hermitage Prize. We look forward to welcoming Joel and doing everything we can to ensure that he has a successful and productive residency.”

Alan Fletcher announced the award winner with his own reflection on what a residency can mean. Earlier this year, Fletcher enjoyed a residency and was able to work on a piano concerto that premiered at AMFS on July 30.

“I needed the opportunity to be alone and compose and the Hermitage provided that,” Fletcher recalled. “The staff is superb and makes everything possible. I know Robert (Spano) would agree that this is a beautiful opportunity and every composer this year was deserving of the Prize. Unfortunately, there could be just one.”

Joel Thompson is an Atlanta-based composer, pianist, conductor, and educator. His recent orchestration of Seven Last Words of the Unarmed was premiered February 2017 by the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club and the Sphinx Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Eugene Rogers. As a composition fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and School, Thompson studied with composers Stephen Hartke and Christopher Theofanidis. Thompson is currently a 2017 post-graduate fellow in Arizona State University’s Ensemble Lab/Projecting All Voices Initiative. Thompson taught at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta 2015-2017, and also served as Director of Choral Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Andrew College 2013-2015. Thompson is a proud Emory alumni, graduating with a B.A. in Music in 2010, and an M.M. in Choral Conducting in 2013. His teachers include Eric Nelson, William Ransom, Laura Gordy, Richard Prior, John Anthony Lennon, Kevin Puts, Robert Aldridge, and Scott Stewart.

About winning the Hermitage Prize, Thompson added, “I feel so honored to be awarded this rare opportunity to focus solely on my craft in an environment of solace. I know that my time at the Hermitage will be one of the most crucial and beneficial stages of my development as a composer, as it will allow me to recharge and continue to make music that hopefully inspires social change – one listener at a time.”

We never know what will happen during a residency,” Rodgers continued. “Friendships always occur and if an established composer happens to share a residency with the Hermitage Prize winner, it is usually someone they have heard of and admire. We have also had a collaboration between a visual artist who had been in residency with a Hermitage Prize winner. Murmuration recently opened at Christ Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. None of us know where life will lead, but the organic process that happens when artists live together and interact at our intimate gulf-front campus is an amazing thing to observe and one of the most rewarding aspects of our work.”

The Hermitage is a not-for-profit artist retreat located in Englewood, FL. It invites accomplished painters, sculptors, writers, playwrights, poets, composers and other artists from all over the world for residencies on its beachfront historic campus. Artists are asked to interact with the community during their stay and as a result, Hermitage artists touch thousands of Gulf Coast community residents with unique and inspiring programs each year.  In addition to its partnership with the AMFS, the Hermitage awards and administers the prestigious Greenfield Prize, an annual $30,000 commission for a new work of art, rotating among visual art, music and drama. For more information about The Hermitage Artist Retreat, call 941-475-2098, ext. 5, or visit the website at www.HermitageArtistRetreat.org.

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