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Gunther Schuller to receive 2015 Edward MacDowell Medal

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GuSchullerBatonBW200pxFormer New England Conservatory president, composer, conductor, author, publisher, historian, record producer, virtuoso hornist, educator, and polymath, Gunther Schuller has been selected to receive the 2015 Edward MacDowell Medal. Schuller will receive the medal on Sunday, August 9 at The MacDowell Colony grounds in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

The MacDowell Colony has awarded the medal every year since 1960 “to an individual artist who has made an outstanding contribution to his or her field. 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).” As Augusta Read Thomas, chair of the Edward MacDowell Medal Selection Committee notes in their press release: “It was easy for the selection committee to choose Gunther. He’s a composer’s composer with laser-sharp ears, a sensitive, fertile, creative mind, endless energy, and a generous, humane soul.”

Schuller steered New England Conservatory through one of the most turbulent and formative decades of American and Conservatory history, beginning with NEC’s centennial year. During his tenure as president from 1967-1977, as the Western world rocked to the rhythms of social upheaval and burgeoning youth culture, Schuller formalized NEC’s commitment to jazz by establishing the first fully accredited jazz studies program at a music conservatory. Shortly thereafter, he instituted the Third Stream department (which lives on today as Contemporary Improvisation) to explore the regions where the two musical “streams” of classical and jazz meet and mingle, and hired the iconic Ran Blake to be its chair. Early jazz hires included the legendary Jaki Byard and George Russell.

“We’re very proud of Gunther’s life and what he’s meant to our school,” says composer and NEC faculty member John Heiss. “This award is highly deserved. He has been a key player for NEC and we’re grateful to him for all that he’s done for the school. Gunther has also achieved a magnificent standing through his compositions, which are at the top level of anything we have today. I am pleased that we will be celebrating Gunther’s contributions to NEC and his music with a 90th birthday concert on November 19th.”

macdowellcolony.org | necmusic.edu

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