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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
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

Composer Gunther Schuller"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.

Medal Day Corporate Partner

Order a Picnic Basket for Medal Day

Lincoln Financial

Medal Day Lead Sponsor

Lincoln Financial

Medal Day Lead Contributor


For more information about Medal Day, please contact Dean Klingler at or 212-535-9690.

Oder your Medal Day Lunch Baskets

Medal Day 2011
Sunday, August 14th


10:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

As a counterpoint to the hundreds of visitors enjoying ready access to the Colony’s artist studios and buildings on Medal Day, this short film reveals a more tranquil side of life for artists-in-residence at MacDowell. Produced in 2007 by renowned filmmaker and MacDowell board member Susan Sollins-Brown, this intimate documentary featuring first-person narratives from a diverse group of MacDowell artists will screen continuously in Colony Hall. 7 minutes.

11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

This 1973 film version of Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name will be screened in the Eaves. Directed by Tony Richardson, this explosive film about a well-to-do Connecticut family that is seized by a nameless terror features stellar performances by Katharine Hepburn, Lee Remick, and Joseph Cotten. 133 minutes, rated PG.


12:15 p.m.

The 2011 Edward MacDowell Medal is presented to playwright Edward Albee under the Medal Day tent.  The award ceremony will feature speeches by:

Michael Chabon, Chairman of the Board
Susan Davenport Austin, President
Cheryl Young, Executive Director
David Macy, Resident Director
Mike Nichols, Presentation Speaker
Edward Albee, Medalist


1:15 p.m.

Enjoy an old-fashioned picnic lunch on the grounds of the Colony and relax in the summer beauty of New Hampshire. Guests may bring their own lunch or purchase a Medal Day picnic basket. Picnic baskets are available for pre-order through August 7th for $20 by clicking here.

MAKE ART: MAKE A SCENE    2:00–3:00 p.m.

MacDowell has joined forces with Andy’s Summer Playhouse of Wilton, NH, for this special Medal Day community engagement program sponsored by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. During the month of July, MacDowell playwrights Stephen Karam and Alexandra Napier collaborated with Jennifer Emerson Foreman, Andy’s Summer Playhouse lab director, to produce the John C. Russell Playwriting Lab. Karam and Napier mentored a group of young writers as they developed 10-minute plays that will be presented on the Medal Day stage in honor of 2011 Medalist Edward Albee.  

OPEN STUDIO TOURS         2:00–5:00 p.m.

Tour the Colony's artist studios and interact with artists-in-residence, who provide an illuminating and compelling glimpse into the artistic process that takes place every day of the year at MacDowell.