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Composer Huck Hodge wins $200,000 Charles Ives Living Award

Contact: Ardith Holmgrain

Huck Hodge

NEW YORK, January 24, 2018—Huck Hodge has won the Charles Ives Living Award and will receive $200,000 over the two-year period of the award, beginning July 2018. The announcement was made by Yehudi Wyner, president of the Academy: “Huck Hodge has been chosen by the American Academy of Arts and Letters to receive the Charles Ives Living Award in Music. Mr. Hodge, a brilliant colorist, and creator of gorgeous, lyrical soundscapes joins the succession of distinguished composers who have received the award.” Although the Charles Ives Living winner agrees to forgo all salaried employment during the award period, there is no restriction on accepting composition commissions.

Huck Hodge responded: “This award is very significant to me, not least because of its connection with the legacy of Charles and Harmony Ives. What foresight to enable that future generations of composers might not have to starve on their dissonances! I hope that I can return even a little of this generosity in the music I will write.”


The purpose of the Charles Ives Living is to free a promising American composer from the need to devote his or her time to any employment other than music composition. It is the Academy’s intent to provide through this award an income sufficient to ensure that freedom for a period of two years.


The selection committee—John Harbison (chairman), Aaron Jay Kernis, Fred Lerdahl, Alvin Singleton, and Augusta Read Thomas—studied scores and recordings over a six-month period to arrive at their choice of Huck Hodge.

Nominations for the Academy’s awards come from the 250 members of the Academy (artists, architects, writers, and composers); no other nominations or applications are accepted, with the exception of the Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater. Academy members are not eligible to receive monetary awards.


John Harbison: “In choosing Huck Hodge for the Ives Living Award the committee expresses its interest in hearing Hodge’s next pieces, composed with the precious gift of clear work-time, thanks to Mr. Ives’s generosity to the Academy.”

Aaron Jay Kernis: “Huck Hodge is a master colorist, creating gorgeous sonic soundscapes in his works. I’m delighted that he will receive the distinction of the Ives Living, a vitally important prize, which will undoubtedly allow more beautiful and important new works to be created by him, unfettered by economic pressures.”

Fred Lerdahl: “Huck Hodge’s music projects amazing textures and timbres, often through a brilliant mixture of instruments and electronics. Beneath the sonic pyrotechnics, his sensibility is essentially lyrical and sensuous.”

Alvin Singleton: “Huck Hodge is a terrific composer. His music is well written, filled with surprises, and has real personality. I was happy to support his candidacy for the Charles Ives Living Award.”

Augusta Read Thomas: “Huck’s compositions are musical, poetic, well designed, and compelling.”


Huck Hodge writes music that explores the liminality of perceptual illusion and the threshold between design and intuition. A composer of “harmonically fresh work,” “full of both sparkle and thunder” (New York Times), his music has been praised for its “immediate impact” (Chicago Tribune), its “clever, attractive, streamlined” qualities (NRC Handelsblad, Amsterdam), and its ability to “conjure up worlds of musical magic” with “power and charisma” (Gramophone Magazine, London). Uniquely northwestern, American light patterns act as an inspiration in much of his music—the way that a piercing slant of light, breaking through a dreary cloudscape, casts an intense, otherworldly chiaroscuro on the landscape—the ethereal yellowness of the light in bas-relief against the yawning darkness of the sky. These stark contrasts find their way into his striking combinations of pure and dissonant harmonies, widely spaced orchestrations, and vast, diffuse timbres.

His music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and at numerous major festivals, including the New York Philharmonic Biennial, Shanghai New Music Week, Berliner Festspiele, Gaudeamus Muziekweek (Amsterdam), and the ISCM World Music Days. His musical collaborations include those with members of the Berlin Philharmonic and Ensemble Modern, the Seattle Symphony, the Orchestra of the League of Composers, the Aleph, ASKO/Schönberg, Dal Niente, and Talea ensembles, and the Daedalus, JACK, and Pacifica string quartets. In addition to the Charles Ives Living, his major awards include the Rome Prize, the Gaudeamus Prize, as well as fellowships and commissions from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Goddard Lieberson), the Fromm Foundation, the American Composers Forum, the Barlow Endowment, Music at the Anthology, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, and the Siemens Musikstiftung. Hodge was educated at Columbia University, the University of Oregon, and the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Stuttgart, Germany, and has studied with Fred Lerdahl, Tristan Murail, Robert Kyr, Georg Wötzer, and Marco Stroppa. He is Associate Professor and chair of composition at the University of Washington in Seattle.


The Charles Ives Living was inaugurated in 1998 with the selection of Martin Bresnick, and has since been awarded to Chen Yi (2001), Stephen Hartke (2004), George Tsontakis (2007) and James Mattheson (2012).


Harmony Ives, the widow of Charles Ives, left to the Academy the royalties from her husband’s music to establish a fund for prizes in music composition. Since 1970 the Academy has given 166 Ives scholarships, 54 Ives fellowships, and two Charles Ives Opera Prizes.


The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers. Charter members include William Merritt Chase, Kenyon Cox, Daniel Chester French, Childe Hassam, Henry James, Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Vedder, and Woodrow Wilson. The Academy’s 250 members are elected for life and pay no dues.

In addition to electing new members as vacancies occur, the Academy seeks to foster and sustain an interest in Literature, Music, and the Fine Arts by administering over 70 awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding performances of new works of musical theater, and purchasing artwork for donation to museums across the country.

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