September 27, 2019 Library's Koussevitzky Foundation Awards 2019 Music Commissions

Press Contact: Sheryl Cannady (202) 707-6456

The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress has awarded commissions for new musical works to four composers. The commissions are granted jointly by the foundation and the performing organizations that will present the world premiere performances of the newly composed works. 

Award winners and the groups co-sponsoring their commissions are Erin Gee and JACK Quartet; George E. Lewis and PUBLIQuartet; David Sanford and Meridian Arts Ensemble; and Agata Zubel and Talea Ensemble. 

Serge Koussevitzky, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1924 to 1949, was a champion of contemporary music. Throughout his distinguished career, he played a vital role in the creation of new works by commissioning such composers as Béla Bartók, Leonard Bernstein and Igor Stravinsky. He established the Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library in 1949 to continue his lifelong commitment to composers and new music. Applications for commissions are accepted annually.

 The Koussevitzky Foundation has commissioned more than 500 works, created by some of the world’s most celebrated composers, which are an integral part of the Library’s unparalleled music collections. Among the commissions are examples of the composers’ most iconic works, including Bartók’s “Concerto for Orchestra”; Benjamin Britten’s opera “Peter Grimes”; Olivier Messiaen’s “Turangalîla-Symphonie”; and Arnold Schoenberg’s cantata “A Survivor from Warsaw.” The Library holds the composers’ original manuscripts of these works and other commissioned works.

The Koussevitzky commissioning program is designed primarily for established composers who have demonstrated considerable merit through their works and for orchestras and chamber groups that have a record of excellence in the performance of contemporary music. More information can be found at

Erin Gee
Critically acclaimed as one of the most influential contemporary composer-vocalists, Erin Gee received Guggenheim and Radcliffe fellowships, the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. She is widely recognized for her “Mouthpieces” series, works that use the voice as an instrument of sound production rather than as a tool for linguistic meaning. Her commissions have come from the Zurich Opera House, the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles New Music Group and Klangforum Wien, among others. Gee currently serves as an assistant professor of composition at Brandeis University. Her Koussevitzky Foundation commission will result in a new work for string quartet, co-commissioned by the JACK Quartet.

George E. Lewis
George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case professor of American music at Columbia University. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a corresponding fellow of the British Academy. Other honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, United States Artists Walker Fellowship and the Alpert Award in the Arts. Active as a composer, musicologist and trombonist, Lewis has been a member of the Association of for the Advancement of Creative Musicians since 1971. He works in electronic and computer music, computer-based multimedia installations and notated and improvisatory musical forms. The string quartet PUBLIQuartet co-commissioned Lewis’ newest work.

David Sanford
As a composer, performer and bandleader, David Sanford draws on a range of musical traditions from jazz to western classical. He received the American Academy’s Rome Prize and was a Radcliffe fellow, among other honors. Sanford is the Elizabeth T. Kennan professor of music at Mount Holyoke College and also the chair of music at the college. He is the leader of the contemporary big band ensemble Pittsburgh Collective.  Commissions have come from the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Speculum Musicae, the Chicago Symphony Chamber Players and, in 2004, the Koussevitzky Foundation for his cello concerto “Scherzo Grosso.” Sanford’s Koussevitzky commission is awarded in conjunction with the Meridian Arts Ensemble and will be scored for traditional brass quintet. 

Agata Zubel
A native of Wrocław, Poland, composer and vocalist Agata Zubel concertizes widely and has had commissions premiered worldwide by such prestigious organizations as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Staatsoper Hannover (Germany), Ensemble Inter-Contemporain, Klangforum Wien and the London Sinfonietta. Zubel has been honored for contributions to the artistic life of her nation as the recipient of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage’s Medal of Merit to Polish Culture and the Gloria Artis medal.  The International Music Council’s International Rostrum of Composers named her 2013 composition “Not I” as the best work of the year. Zubel is a faculty lecturer at the Academy of Music in Wrocław. The Koussevitzky Foundation and Talea Ensemble commissioned the composer’s new work for chamber ensemble.

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PR 19-094
ISSN 0731-3527