The Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Aspen Music Festival and School awarded the first annual Hermitage Prize earlier this month.
The annual gift of a stipend and an artist residency at the Florida retreat will be awarded each summer to an Aspen Music School composition student. The first winner is Patrick Harlin, a graduate student from the University of Michigan. The prize was presented at the Aspen Music Festival’s first Composition Studies AACA Composer Showcase on Sunday, Aug. 11 in Harris Concert Hall.
“It is a great pleasure to present the Hermitage Prize,” says festival music director Robert Spano, who presented the award with music school President Alan Fletcher and Hermitage director Bruce E. Rodgers. “I have spent time at the retreat and in a very short time, produced more work than I’ve been able to do in the past 22 years.”
Harlin previously won the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Presser Award from the Theodore Presser Foundation. His work “Rapture” will be performed in September by the St. Louis Symphony.
Spano became aware of the Hermitage Artist Retreat when he was invited there as the keynote speaker for the 2012 Greenfield Prize. The not-for-profit artist retreat in Englewood, Fla. brings accomplished painters, sculptors, writers, playwrights, poets, composers and other artists from all over the world for residencies on its beachfront historic campus. Spano became a fellow of the Hermitage in the fall of 2012 and during that time, along with Rodgers, saw an opportunity for Aspen and the Hermitage to collaborate. The new prize is a result of that collaboration.
“It gives an up-and-coming American composer the gift of time and space to work on their art apart from the everyday world and its constant interruptions and distractions,” says Rodgers.
Harlin was selected by a panel of six prestigious composers, including Spano and Fletcher. The others were composers-in-residence at this year’s Festival and School: John Corigliano, John Harbison, Steven Stucky and George Tsontakis.
“Based on the quality of their work, many of our composition students were eligible candidates for this first Hermitage Prize,” says Fletcher. “It was a very hard decision. However, we selected Patrick based not only on his musical talent, but also on where he is in his career. We felt this was the right time for him to use this gift in a most meaningful way.”
Writers’ Foundation hosts award-winning novelist
The Aspen Writers’ Foundation (AWF) is hosting best-selling novelist Stephanie Kallos, author of “Broken for You” and “Sing Them Home” as its August writer-in-residence.
Kallos began writing short stories over 25 years ago, after a longtime career in the theater as an actress, teacher, and voice coach. Her short fiction has been published in numerous literary magazines and journals and has earned her a Raymond Carver Award and a Pushcart Prize nomination. Kallos’s first novel, “Broken for You,” was published in 2004 and chosen as a “Today Show” book club selection.
Her second novel, “Sing Them Home,” published in 2009, is a story about a family forced to confront the unresolved grief of a long-ago personal tragedy. Kallos is currently at work on a third novel, a project she hopes to complete as part of her month-long residency with the AWF.
The Writer in Residence program began in 2010 and has hosted authors such as Ishmael Beah (“A Long Way Gone”), Colum McCann (“Transatlantic”), and Andrew Sean Greer (“The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells”). The program was originally designed as a yearlong commitment for writers, but under the new leadership of AWF creative director Adrienne Brodeur, the residency program has been reconfigured to feature a different writer each month. The program now includes a “Catch & Release” community reading initiative, which gives away free books to familiarize readers with the visiting author and to inspire a love of reading.
“A month-long residency strikes the right balance,” says Brodeur. “It’s a feasible commitment for writers who have families and day jobs, but still provides meaningful time to accomplish serious work. Matt Batt, our inaugural resident, described his time at Woody Creek as the ‘most transformative month’ in his entire professional life.”
Through a housing donation made by the Catto Charitable Foundation, resident authors are housed on private property in Woody Creek. While the residency program was established to give authors the space and time to write, writers will also make special visits to valley schools and attend AWF member functions.
A free monthly reading and discussion event will be held for each author. Kallos read at the Woody Creek Community Center on Aug. 20.