Julia Wolfe Wins 2016 MacArthur “Genius” Grant

Julia Wolfe, associate professor of music composition, has been named a 2016 MacArthur fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

MacArthur fellows are recipients of the foundation’s “genius grants,” who each receive $625,000 over a five-year period to pursue intellectual, social, and artistic endeavors.

“The MacArthur Foundation has just confirmed what we at Steinhardt have known all along – that Julia Wolfe is a genius whose work is having a profound effect on her field and on our culture at large,” said Dominic J. Brewer, Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.   “We’re very fortunate to have her as part of our Steinhardt community.”

Wolfe, who joined the Steinhardt faculty in 2009, is an innovative composer who has written a major body of work for strings, from quartets to full orchestra. She is the recipient of a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Anthracite Fields, an oratorio about coal miners and their families.

She is the co-founder and co-artistic director of the international music collective Bang on a Can, has composed music for Anna Deveare Smith’s House Arrest, and received an Obie award for her score to Ridge Theater’s Jennie Richie.

“While our communities, our nation, and our world face both historic and emerging challenges, these twenty-three extraordinary individuals give us ample reason for hope,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “They are breaking new ground in areas of public concern, in the arts, and in the sciences, often in unexpected ways. Their creativity, dedication, and impact inspire us all.

Wolfe is currently working on an orchestral and choral work that explores women’s labor issues in factories, with a focus on New York’s garment industry.  It is due to premiere in 2018.

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