Top row (L to R) Resident Director David Macy, Executive Director Cheryl Young, Chairman Michael Chabon, Presentation Speaker Terrance McKnight. Bottom row (L to R) Presentation Speaker Yehudi Wyner, President Susan Davenport Austin. (Photo by Jo Morrissey)
Medal Day 2015
Sunday, August 9
"In his imagination human beings were not to be separated by music, but music should be the force to bring us together. That was Gunther Schuller."
2015 Medal Day Presentation Speaker Terrance McKnight
"Schuller was a model of industry, discipline, receptiveness, openness to art ... from every culture and from every era. His passion was not restricted by ideology or narrow prejudice.... His appetite for genuine expression of any kind was inexhaustible and his generosity of spirit was constantly in play."
2015 Medal Day Presentation Speaker Yehudi Wyner
The MacDowell Colony posthumously awarded composer Gunther Schuller its 56th Edward MacDowell Medal on Sunday, August 9. The Medal has been awarded annually since 1960 to an individual artist who has made an outstanding contribution to his or her field.
In his opening remarks MacDowell Chairman Michael Chabon commented, of Mr. Schuller: "Our role ... is to matter to other people, and our task, our greatest work, is to matter to them in a way that brings them comfort, safety, peace, knowledge or joy. Art can do and has done all of those things, at one time or another, sometimes all at once. Gunther Schuller with his gifts as a composer, musician and teacher could do, and did, all of those things." Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and pianist Yehudi Wyner and public radio host Terrance McKnight reflected on the life and work of a great man and composer who tested, stretched, and often broke the boundaries of classical and jazz music.
Read Michael Chabon’s Medal Day address
Read Terrance McKnight’s Medal Day address
Read Yehudi Wyner’s Medal Day address
Schuller, who began his professional career as a teen playing French horn for the American Ballet Theater (ABT) and recorded with Miles Davis before making an indelible mark as a composer and an educator, has composed such works as Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee (1959), Of Reminiscences and Reflections, which earned the Pulitzer Prize in 1994, and An Arc Ascending (1996). He joins a notable list of past Medal recipients, including Aaron Copland (1961), Robert Frost (1962), Georgia O’Keeffe (1972), Leonard Bernstein (1987), Stephen Sondheim (2013), and Betye Saar (2014).
Augusta Read Thomas, chair of the Edward MacDowell Medal Selection Committee and a member of the board of the American Music Center, said, “Gunther was pleased and honored to have this national recognition when we told him in April he had been awarded the Medal. He will be there in spirit and his compelling life’s work comprises a remarkable legacy.” Schuller continued composing despite illness and died in Boston on June 21st.
Serving with Thomas on the selection committee were six other composers, all of whom are MacDowell Fellows: Sebastian Currier, Aaron Jay Kernis, Paul Moravec, David Rakowski, Alvin Singleton, and Melinda Wagner.
Since 1960, The MacDowell Colony has awarded the Edward MacDowell Medal to an artist of enduring vision and creativity. Find out about the medal’s proud history and its distinguished group of past winners.
There is no charge to attend Medal Day.
Thanks to the generosity of our 2015 Medal Day Corporate Sponsors as well as our Individual Donors MacDowell is able to keep this annual event free and open to the public.
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For more information about Medal Day, please contact Dean Klingler at email@example.com or 212-535-9690.