Pulitzer Prize-winning composer receives DSO award

 Kevin Puts is the recipient of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra’s 2015 A.I. du Pont Composer’s Award.  (Photo courtesy of J. Henry Fair)

Kevin Puts is the recipient of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra’s 2015 A.I. du Pont Composer’s Award. (Photo courtesy of J. Henry Fair)

The 2012 winner of a Pulitzer Prize for opera will be honored by the Delaware Symphony Orchestra.

Kevin Puts is the recipient of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra’s 2015 A.I. du Pont Composer’s Award. He will accept the award at the DSO’s final Chamber Concert of the season at the DuPont Country Club on Tuesday, April 14 at 8 p.m.

The program will include a performance of his Concerto for Oboe and Strings conducted by DSO Music Director David Amado with the orchestra’s Stephanie Wilson as oboe soloist.

Established in 1985, the award recognizes a distinguished living American composer or conductor who has made a significant contribution to contemporary classical music.  Previous recipients have included Aaron Jay Kernis, Jennifer Higdon, Joan Tower, Richard Wernick, George Walker, Michael Daugherty and Christopher Rouse. 

Puts’ work has been described as one of the most important composers of his generation. The New York Times called it “exhilarating and compelling.” His music has been commissioned, performed and recorded by leading orchestras, ensembles and soloists throughout North America, Europe and the Far East. His most recent work, “The City,” or Symphony No. 5, co-commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony to commemorate its 100th anniversary and Carnegie Hall to mark its 125th anniversary, will premier in April 2016.

Additionally, Puts has received many of today’s most prestigious honors and awards for his compositions, including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his debut opera “Silent Night.”

Puts does not identify with any particular musical style or movement. In a 2012 Baltimore Sun interview, he said he does his best work when he allows himself as large a palette as possible.

Indeed, the myriad of musical influences that have shaped his style run the gamut from rock to Bach. The Concerto for Oboe and Strings recalls the spirit and counterpoint of the latter’s “Brandenburg Concertos,” while his Symphony No. 3 draws inspiration from Bjork’s album “Vespertine.”

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Puts earned his bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, his master’s from Yale University and a doctorate in musical arts from Eastman.

From 1997 to 2005, he taught at the University of Texas at Austin. Since 2006, he has been a member of the composition department at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. He currently serves as director of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Composer’s Institute, succeeding Aaron Jay Kernis, last year’s recipient of the du Pont Award.

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