May 5, 2020
After postponing their April 20 announcement, the Pulitzer committee carved out some time yesterday, May 4, and got around to sharing this year’s Prize recipients. For music, composer Anthony Davis won with his opera The Central Park Five, written with librettist Richard Wesley.
San Francisco Classical Voice covered the work last summer, in its premiere at Long Beach Opera. The Central Park Five tells a story right out of a modern U.S. history textbook and is notable for its inclusion of a Donald Trump character. Reviewing the LBO production for SFCV, Richard S. Ginell called it “a pertinently powerful piece of music theater” and observed that Davis finds a balance between his jazz and classical backgrounds in the score.
This is the second year in a row that the $15,000 Prize in Music has been awarded for an opera that premiered in Southern California. (Last year’s winner was composer Ellen Reid for her opera prism.)
Along with Davis’s win, the Pulitzer Board cited two finalists for this year’s Prize in Music: Alex Weiser for and all the days were purple, a song cycle and recorded on Cantaloupe Music (2019), and Michael Torke for his new violin concerto, Sky. SFCV reviewed Weiser’s album last year, part of a roundup of recent recordings from the next generation of composers.
Davis, Weiser, and Torke were selected by a jury that included composer Kevin Puts, Late Show bandleader Jon Batiste, Berklee professor William C. Banfield, conductor David Bloom, and organist/music director William Trafka.