I am, of course, inspired by the natural beauty of America, no matter the climate or weather system!
Celebrated as an “...eloquent, poetic voice in contemporary music...” [American Record Guide], Melinda Wagner’s esteemed catalog of works embodies music of exceptional beauty, power, and intelligence. Wagner received widespread attention when her colorful Concerto for Flute, Strings and Percussion earned her the Pulitzer Prize in 1999. Since then, major works have included Concerto for Trombone, for Joseph Alessi and the New York Philharmonic, a piano concerto, Extremity of Sky, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony for Emanuel Ax, and Little Moonhead, commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, as part of its popular “New Brandenburgs” series. Extremity of Sky has been performed by Emanuel Ax with the National Symphony (on tour), the Toronto and Kansas City Symphonies, and the Staatskapelle Berlin.
Championed early on by Daniel Barenboim, Wagner has received three commissions from the Chicago Symphony; the most recent of these, Proceed, Moon, was premiered by the CSO under the baton of Susanna Mälkki in 2017. Other recent performances have come from the American Composers Orchestra, the United States Marine Band, BMOP, the American Brass Quintet, and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.
Among honors Wagner has received is a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the 2018 ASCAP Masters Award. Wagner was given an honorary doctorate from Hamilton College, and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and serves on the Board of the American Composers Orchestra.
A passionate and inspiring teacher, Melinda Wagner has given master classes at many fine institutions across the United States. She currently serves as Chair of the Composition Department at Juilliard, and is a Distinguished Composer-in-Residence at the Frost School of Music, at the University of Miami.
As the artistic director of Center for Musical Excellence, I am always on the look out for new and undiscovered talents. They come to me, sometimes, by my colleagues’ recommendations and other times through young artists’ own research about our organization. Tyson Davis and Andrew Bambridge are currently on our roster of CME Young Artists, whom we mentor. Patricio Molina is a CME alumnus. Theo Chandler, Ji-Young Ko, and Daniel Newman-Lessler applied for our Grant program, and I got to know their work through that process. I decide on young artists when I notice a deep passion and drive within them, plus a certain kind of sparkle in the personality and lots of humility. In addition to musical talents, I believe these are the qualities that will take the young artists far. CME’s motto is "Moving Musicians Forward". I’ve chosen our Discovery Composers based on these qualities, whom we felt we could easily move forward.
- Min Kwon