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March 4, 2010

American Academy of Arts and Letters honors Baltimore composer James Lee III

The New York-based American Academy of Arts and Letters, founded 112 years ago to "foster, assist, and sustain an interest in literature, music, and the fine arts," announced Thursday recipients of the 2010 awards. Among the honorees is Baltimore composer James Lee III, a faculty member at Morgan State University.

His music, with its distinctive style and intriguing allusions (especially to scriptural references), has been attracting more and more attention lately. Locally, Leonard Slatkin conducted the National Symphony Orchestra in the premiere of "Beyond Rivers of Vision" a few years ago at the Kennedy Center; just last weekend, members of Monument Piano Trio and the ANALOG ensemble premiered "Scenes from Eternity's Edge" for flute and piano trio at An die Musik.

Lee received the $10,000 Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond award, given to "a promising mid-career composer."

The awards jury -- Robert Beaser, Bernard Rands, Gunther Schuller, Steven Stucky, Yehudi Wyner -- distributed $170,000 in awards; the presentation will be in May. Among the honorees:


Academy Awards in Music ($7,500 and additional $7,500 toward a recording) for "outstanding artistic achievement" by a "composer who has arrived at his or her own voice": Daniel Asia, David Felder, Pierre Jalbert, and James Primosch.

Goddard Lieberson fellowships ($15,000) "to mid-career composers of exceptional gifts": Philippe Bodin, Aaron J. Travers.

Charles Ives Fellowships ($15,000): Anna Clyne, Michael Djupstrom.

Six Charles Ives Scholarships ($7,500) for "composition students of great promise" were awarded; one of the recipients is Roger Zare, who got his master's degree at Peabody Conservatory grad).

Posted by Tim Smith at 11:44 AM | | Comments (0)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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