HERMITAGE PRIZE AWARDED AT ASPEN MUSIC FESTIVAL AND SCHOOL
The Hermitage Artist Retreat, in partnership with the Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS), is pleased to announce that the 2016 winner of the Hermitage Prize was just awarded to Andrew Hsu, a summer composition student. The Prize includes a six-week residency at the invitation-only artist retreat in Englewood, FL, along with a $1000.00 stipend to be used for travel and food during the stay. This year’s presentation was dedicated to the memory of composer and teacher Steven Stucky who sadly passed away in February. It was especially poignant as Hsu was a student of Stucky’s at Juilliard and it was with his enthusiastic recommendation that Hsu was admitted to the AMFS’s highly competitive composing program this summer. The Hermitage Prize was presented during the Composer Showcase, an annual event, where work by some of the composers is played by the Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra and then critiqued by Music Director Robert Spano, President and CEO Alan Fletcher and Composer-In-Residence Christopher Theofanidis. After working closely with the students during the summer, Spano, Fletcher and Theofanidis selected Hsu to receive the award.
According to Fletcher, “It is very difficult to think of who should get this Prize, with so many deserving and extraordinary students. This year is special and we are honored to present the Hermitage Prize in Steven’s memory to someone who had worked with him and was highly regarded by him.”
Andrew Hsu is a maverick among concert musicians, praised as both a critically acclaimed pianist and an award-winning composer. As a composer, Hsu’s music has been featured at festivals such as the Aspen Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, Music from Angel Fire and the Tanglewood Music Center. In April 2016, the Juilliard Orchestra under the direction of Jeffrey Milarsky premiered Hsu’s tone poem vale in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center as the recipient work of the 2016 Arthur Friedman Prize. Hsu’s compositions have received numerous honors over the years, including several ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards and a BMI William Schuman Prize.
Hsu was named a 2014 Gilmore Young Artist, noted for “[channeling] Horowitz right down to the brilliant-yet-delicate high-treble sonority” (Philadelphia Inquirer) and being “a great storyteller, who listens attentively to what he says and plays with deep conviction” (Kalamazoo Gazette). He has appeared on the the stages of Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Kimmel Center and Seiji Ozawa Hall. In 2015, he was invited to join the exclusive New Fromm Players at the Tanglewood Music Center and performed in the 2015–16 Gilmore Rising Star Series. An avid chamber musician, Hsu will attend Marlboro Music beginning in the Summer of 2017. Hsu is currently a proud Kovner Fellow at The Juilliard School studying with Matthias Pintscher.
“The beauty of the natural world is what I strive to evoke in my musical work,” Hsu remarked. “Human beings are a mere fragment of Nature’s perception: in the whole, we are but a small part of living organisms, existing still very much under Nature’s control. I think of music not as a human creation, but as something that exists and has existed since Nature first took its breath. The song of the world (not wildlife) is an ever-present continuum that we can tap into with our carefully designed ears and minds. It is this mysterious song that embodies my work—not a human endeavor, but rather the full weight of Nature and all that beauty has to offer. How wonderful it is, then, to work in peace on a scenic beach with untapped access to this infinite source of wisdom and inspiration. I am so thankful that the Hermitage Artist Retreat can offer me this unique opportunity to further my craft and deepen my inspirations.”
Maestro Robert Spano, is a Hermitage Fellow, as well as Music Director of AMFS and the Atlanta Symphony. During the presentation, he praised the Hermitage and spoke generously about what a residency means. Later in the day, Spano did a piano performance Sonata: Four Elements, which he credits the Hermitage for helping him to complete during the time and space of his residencies.
“I know first-hand the specialness of working at the Hermitage,” Spano said. “The experience has been transformative to me and I am so pleased that we have established this relationship for our students, who are the only students invited to work there.”
Composer-In-Residence Christopher Theofanidis, whose work has been performed by many orchestras around the world, presented the Prize to Hsu. He began by speaking about Stucky as a major force in American music who was so generous to his students and helped to create the composing program in Aspen. He praised Hsu as one of the most fantastic pianists today and remarked that his music was exquisite.
“We could not be more pleased with the AMFS’s selection of Andrew Hsu,” Executive Director Bruce Rodgers continued. “His career is already in gear and we look forward to helping him to continue his dreams, as we provide inspiring time and space for that to happen.”