Monday, January 16, 2012

The Hermitage Announces Greenfield Prize Winner

Last night at the gorgeous, art-filled home of Margaret Pennington, the Hermitage Artist Retreat (HAR) announced the 2012 Greenfield Prize winner - composer-pianist, Vijay Iyer.  The Greenfield Prize is a $30,000 commission to a mid-career artist to create new work.  The prize rotates between three arts areas - composing, playwrighting, and a wild card discipline.  In addition to the $30,000, the winner receives six weeks at the HAR to create the work and then after two years, in partnership with a local arts organization, the new work is premiered.  

Past winners are playwright Craig Lucas, composer Eve Beglarian, visual artist Sandford Biggers, and last year, playwright John Guare.  This year's reveal of Sandford Biggers work will be during the Greenfield Weekend on March 29th at the Ringling Museum.  In two years, Mr. Iyer's work will premiere with La Musica.  Last year, Eve Beglarian's work premiered with the Sarasota Orchestra.

Chosen by a national committee, the finalists are unaware they are even in the running until they are asked to submit a proposal of the work they would create if they win.  The committee chair is on the HAR national selection committee that chooses all artists who are in residence at HAR.  The chair then selects two other members from that year's field.  This year's committee chair was Linda Golding, former president of Boosey & Hawkes, an international classical music publishing firm and Director of Production Coordination for the NYC Opera.  She is currently the founder of The Reservoir. 

Other committee members were Jennifer Koh, a renowned violinist who has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Seattle, St. Louis, and Toronto symphonies and Limor Tomer, a former professional classical pianist, who is currently the General Manager of Concerts and Lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

As Linda Golding said during her brief remarks, "For the artist, the Greenfield Prize is a tipping point in their career when this commission could make a difference in who they are and who they can be".
Vijay Iyer is one cool character.  Each year the prize is announced at a delightful cocktail party.  After the announcement to the guests, a phone call is made to the winner - on speakerphone.  All finalists are told to "stand by" their phone at approximately 6 PM to get "the call" live during the party.  That way everyone can join in the fun and excitement.  When he was notified that he was the winner, he replied in a slightly stunned voice that he was "so happy".  Why did I think he was a cool character?  He let the phone ring THREE times before he answered it very nonchalantly! 

Just who is Vijay Iyer?  A very brief bio - he is a Grammy-nominated composer and described as one of the most interesting and vital young pianist in jazz today.  He was voted the 2010 Musician of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association and named one of the 50 Most Influential Global Indians by GQ India.  He has released 15 albums.  He has won many, many more accolades than I can fit here, but just know this - he is most fabulous.  He is a "polymath" (Should I know what that is?  I don't, dear reader, but probably you do!), whose career has spanned the sciences, the humanities, and the arts.  He holds a BS in Mathematics and Physics from Yale University, plus a Masters in Physics, and a Ph.D. in Technology and the Arts from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Put April 1 at 6 PM at Michael's On East on your calendar right now.  You do not want to miss this dinner.  Tickets start at $150.  It has been touted as one of the best events in town by both SCENE Magazine and Sarasota Magazine.  It is truly that fabulous!  The keynote speaker is always a superstar within the discipline of the winner and this year it is Robert Spano, one of the brightest and most imaginative conductors of his generation.  He is music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and soon-to-be music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School.

You can see the Greenfield Prize dinner will be one of the most interesting of the season.  I'll be there.  Will you?

Greenfield Prize selection committee member Jennifer Koh with Greenfield Foundation President Bill Greenfield with wife, Joni Greenfield

Greenfield Foundation founders, Louise and Bob Greenfield

HAR Executive Director Bruce Rodgers with Caroline and Dyck Andrus

Dr. George Pappas, Tom Dignam, and Dr. Sarah Pappas

Greenfield Prize selection committee member, Limor Tomer and Lisa Rubinstein

Marv Albert, Vivian Kouvant, and Gerri Aaron

Bob Blattberg, Rebecca Donelson, and Bruce Rodgers

National committee chair, Linda Golding and reception hostess, Margaret Pennington

Piero Rivolta and Janet and John Hunter

Ina Schnell and Carol White Bold

Karen Solem, Brad Goddard, and Rebecca Donelson

La Musica's Derek Han and Sally Faron

Bill Buttaggi and Debra Jacobs, who is credited with bringing together HAR and the Greenfield Foundation

Joni Greenfield and Bev Koski

Annette and Tom Dignam

Flora Major and Rachele Rivolta

Greenfield Dinner Chair Joy Rogers and Ellen Berman

Flori Roberts and Kelly Lavin

Veronica Brady, HAR board president Larry Bold, and Karen Solem

A view of Margaret's stunning art-filled home

A very large piece of art and Janet Hunter

More captivating artwork

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