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Louisville, KY., – Dutch composer Joel Bons has won the 2019 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for “Nomaden,” a one-hour work for cello solo and an ensemble of instruments from diverse cultures.
Bons, 65, wrote the piece for French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and the Atlas Ensemble, a group of 18 eminent musicians from China, Japan, Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Cello Biennale Amsterdam commissioned the work, which premiered in Amsterdam in October 2016 with Ed Spanjaard conducting.
Besides cello, the work incorporates a wide array of Asian instruments – Chinese erhu and sheng, Japanese sho and shakuhachi, Indian sarangi, Turkish kemenche, Armenian duduk, Persian setar and Azerbaijani tar and kamancha – many of which are precursors of Western instruments.
“’Nomaden’ is not a traditional concerto but a work for cello and instruments from cultures around the world,” Bons said. “I imagined an unlimited potential of combinations and an unheard spectrum of timbres. My aim was to create a piece in which the musicians and the instruments, in all their cultural differences, could bloom in full glory.”
Bons, a music composition professor at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, learned about world music as a child by listening to his parents’ record collection. In 1980, he co-founded the contemporary music group Nieuw Ensemble, which earned the Prince Bernhard Fund Music Prize in 1998 for “markedly lively and adventurous” programming.
He founded Atlas Ensemble in 2002 and continues to serve as its artistic director, winning the Amsterdam Prize for the Arts in 2005. In 2009, he started Atlas Academy/Lab, a laboratory for the creation of intercultural music.
His pieces have been performed by ensembles and orchestras in Europe, China and Canada.
“Art of all kinds is becoming more and more eclectic, juxtaposing materials and influences in increasingly new ways,” said Marc Satterwhite, a University of Louisville music professor who directs the music award. “’Nomaden’ is one of the most successful musical examples of this trend in recent years.”
Recipients of the 2019 Grawemeyer Awards are being named this week pending formal approval by university trustees. The annual, $100,000 prizes reward outstanding ideas in music, world order, psychology, education and religion. Winners will visit Louisville in April to accept their awards and give free talks on their winning ideas.
In World Order:
An innovative framework designed to improve the ability of countries to expand human rights has won the 2019 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.
Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Terra Lawson-Remer and Susan Randolph were named co-winners for the ideas set forth in their book, “Fulfilling Social and Economic Rights.” The work, published in 2015 by Oxford University Press, offers a method for gauging how well nations are providing basic human rights of food, health, education, housing, work and social well-being to their citizens and suggests how they can advance such rights even further.
Fukuda-Parr is a professor in The New School’s Graduate Programs in International Affairs. Lawson-Remer was recently a fellow in Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Randolph is an associate professor emerita of economics at the University of Connecticut.
The trio used the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights as a basis for their work, creating a new tool, the Social and Economic Rights Fulfillment Index, to measure nations’ progress toward human rights goals. Their book also sheds light on policies that advance human rights and explains how use of these policies and public pressure can lead to results.
Although the authors noted there has been steady progress in social and economic rights fulfillment over the past 30 years, they found that disparities still exist in every region of the world. Their measurement tool is aimed at helping governments and other organizations address those disparities.
In 2016, the book won the American Political Science Association’s Human Rights Section Best Book Award.
“All of our reviewers agreed this work can inform domestic and international policies, aid in the work of non-governmental organizations and provide a way to evaluate performance in a truly comparative perspective,” said Charles Ziegler, a University of Louisville political science professor who directs the world order award. “In short, the ideas expressed in this book can make a significant contribution to world order.”
Recipients of the 2019 Grawemeyer Awards are being named this week pending formal approval by university trustees. The annual, $100,000 prizes reward outstanding ideas in music, world order, psychology, education and religion. Winners visit Louisville in April to accept their awards and give free talks on their winning ideas.