Professor Wins Fromm Music Foundation Commission

Monday, December 3, 2007

PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 3, 2007) – Harvard University's Fromm Music Foundation has awarded contemporary music composer Suzanne Sorkin, Ph.D., a $10,000 commission to write a new composition. The Foundation will also subsidize the ensemble that performs the premiere of the composition.

"I am so grateful for the opportunity to create a new composition. This commission provides substantial creative freedom in the conception and instrumentation of the work. I look forward to the process of creating the piece and sharing the new work with an audience," said Sorkin.

One of 13 recipients of the award, Sorkin competed for the commission with classical music composers from across the country. The Fromm is considered one of the most significant commissions for new classical music composers. Founded by the late Paul Fromm, the Foundation has commissioned over 300 new compositions and their performances, as well as sponsored hundreds of new music concerts and concert series. The Foundation seeks to strengthen opportunities for new composition, and to bring contemporary concert music to the public.

Well-known new music composer David Rakowski, with whom Sorkin studied, commented recently on her work: "Suzanne's pieces are distilled musical experiences, like a fine Scotch. Every note matters, fits perfectly in place, and leads you in the most lyrical way to the next one."

Additionally, Sorkin has had a three-year run ('05-'07) of winning the ASCAPLUS (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Plus Award), which is judged by an independent panel of distinguished experts for the activity generated by each member's catalog – with emphasis placed on recent performances.

A performance at the Tenri Cultural Institute of Sorkin's String Trio in Two Movements by counter)induction, a New York-based contemporary music composer/performer collective, was positively reviewed in the New York Times:"Suzanne Sorkin's two-movement String Trio … spoke in emphatic oratorical terms." It was this work that earned Sorkin the Fromm commission.

A recording of her composition for solo piano, Falling through crimson and lead on Sonance: New Music for Piano by Jeri-Mae G. Astolfi, drew notice from a Sequenza 21 reviewer for its boldness: "with its bracing, incisive broken-pottery harmonies, [it] hearkens back to high-modernist atonality."

Sorkin was also a prizewinner of the 2007 Third Millennium Ensemble National Composition Competition. Next May, the critically acclaimed Washington, D.C., group will perform her entry After Dark, for soprano, violin, 'cello and piano. Notable performances of her work include such venues as Zipper Concert Hall, Merkin Concert Hall and Mannes College of Music.

However, Sorkin's abilities reach well beyond the solitary pursuits of a new music composer. An assistant professor of music, she is as passionate about teaching as she is about composing.

"I really love writing music and I want to be able to help students bring that out of themselves," she said. "It is very satisfying to see them create their own music and become engaged in their own process, no matter what their prior level of experience."

Sorkin received a doctorate in music composition from the University of Chicago, where she also received her master's in music composition. She received a bachelor's in music composition and theory from New York University.

Media Contact

Patricia Allen, associate director of University Communications,, 610-660-3240

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