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Julia Wolfe ’86 MM wins Pulitzer Prize in Music

Wolfe '86 MM wins for her oratorio Anthracite Fields, an oratorio about Pennsylvania coal-mining life around the turn of the twentieth century
April 21, 2015

Julia Wolfe | Photo by Peter Serling

 

Julia Wolfe ’86 MM has won the Pulitzer Prize for music for her piece Anthracite Fields. The Pulitzer jury described the piece as “a powerful oratorio for chorus and sextet evoking Pennsylvania coal-mining life around the turn of the twentieth century.” The piece was commissioned by the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia through Meet the Composer’s Commissioning Music/USA program.

The Mendelssohn Club and the Bang on a Can All-Stars premiered the work in Philadelphia 2014. The piece was later included in the New York Philharmonic’s inaugural NY Phil Biennial festival.

Wolfe, a co-founder of Bang on a Can, is the second composer from the group to win a Pulitzer. David Lang ’83 MMA, ’89 DMA, another co-founder, won in 2008 for The Little Match Girl Passion. Wolfe’s piece Steel Hammer was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2010.

In an article in the L.A. Times about the best classical music moments of 2014, music critic Mark Swed wrote that Anthracite Fields was “an unforgettably haunting, harrowing evocation of the plight of Pennsylvania’s coal miners, incorporating many musical styles and effectively shadowy visuals.”

A recording of Anthracite Fields is scheduled to be released this fall on the Cantaloupe Music label, featuring the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street with Julian Wachner conducting. Wolfe spend more than a year creating and researching the work, including visits to museums and interviews with miners.

Hear an excerpt from the work here. LISTEN

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