Composer Ellen Reid, 36, won the Pulitzer Prize in Music for her opera p r i s m. Reid is the fourth woman to earn the prize since 2013.
The piece was commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects and developed over a period of years with director James Darrah and librettist Roxie Perkins. It premiered on the West Coast on November 29 at the Los Angeles Opera's Off Grand series and on the East Coast as part of the PROTOTYPE Festival in January 2019.
p r i s m is an insightful, poetic, and colorful exploration of the elasticity of traumatic memory; in a metaphorical room, the piece follows a girl along her hero's journey as she moves from blissful denial to reality regarding her past sexual assault. Reid draws from classical tradition, electronic club music, and contemporary experimental composition to create massive shifts in reality in a brilliant way.
The Pulitzer jury described the winning piece as a "bold new operatic work that uses sophisticated vocal writing and striking instrumental timbres to confront difficult subject matter: the effects of sexual and emotional abuse." The two other finalists were Sustain, an orchestral work by Andrew Norman, and Still for solo piano by James Romig.
About Ellen Reid
Ellen Reid is one of the most innovative artists of her generation. A composer and sound artist whose breadth of work spans opera, sound design, film scoring, ensemble and choral writing, she recently became the first composer to have works premiered by Los Angeles’ four leading musical institutions — the Los Angeles Philharmonic, LA Opera, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Los Angeles Master Chorale — all within one year.
Other season highlights include a new work for the New York Philharmonic, and a collaboration with Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller on a sound installation for the LA Phil’s Walt Disney Concert Hall. In the fall of 2019, Ellen begins a three-year appointment as Creative Advisor and Composer-in-Residence for Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.
With composer Missy Mazzoli, Ellen is co-founder of Luna Composition Lab, a mentorship program for young self-identified female, non-binary, and gender non-conforming composers. She received her BFA from Columbia University and her MA from California Institute of the Arts. Ellen splits her time between her two favorite cities — Los Angeles and New York.