The Hermitage Artist Retreat (Sarasota County, Florida) and the Aspen Music Festival and School (Aspen, Colorado) announced that AMFS composition student Sofía Rocha has been selected as the recipient of the 2022 Hermitage Prize in Composition . Rocha is the ninth recipient of this annual award, which includes a residence at the Hermitage, as well as a cash stipend of $1,000. Rocha was selected by a jury consisting of Robert Spano, musical director of AMFS and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and former member of the Hermitage Curatorial Council; Alan Fletcher, President and CEO of AMFS; and the composition faculty of AMFS, including Hermitage Fellow Christopher Theofanidis.
Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg presented the award to Rocha in the Benedict tent at the Aspen Music Festival, alongside Fletcher, Spano, Theofanidis and award-winning composer and Hermitage member Nico Muhly. This unique initiative, launched in 2013 and now celebrating its tenth year, reflects an invaluable partnership between the AMFS and the Hermitage, designed to champion new and original works and recognize exceptional talent in the field of contemporary classical music. To celebrate this milestone, the Hermitage and AMFS have produced a retrospective video featuring exclusive interviews with past winners, prominent AMFS faculty members, and renowned thought leaders in music, which you can can see here (URL link below). The idea for the award originated when Robert Spano was in residence at the Hermitage and shared with his colleagues in Aspen how beneficial the retreat had been for him and his work. The Prix de l’Ermitage in composition was created to offer the same experience to talented young composers who are starting their professional careers.
“It was thrilling to hear the original works performed by these gifted young composers as they were trained in the workshop and performed with the full AMFS student orchestra in the first hall of the Festival,” notes Sandberg. are honored to recognize Sofía Rocha as the winner of this Hermitage of the Year Award, and we were delighted that the weekend festivities could be celebrated alongside other Hermitage alumni, including Robert Spano, Nico Muhly, Anne Patterson, Christopher Theofanidis, and the first-ever Hermitage Prize recipient in composition, Patrick Harlin (2013).” Sandberg adds that the Hermitage Prize at AMFS is the only student residence awarded annually; all other Hermitage Fellows are accomplished professionals and leaders in their field, selected by the National Council of Hermitage Curators. “This offers the recipient of the annual Hermitage Composition Prize the opportunity to share this unparalleled Hermitage experience with leading artists from around the world.”
Hermitage Fellows have included 15 Pulitzer Prize winners, multiple Grammy, Oscar, Emmy and Tony winners, Poet Laureates, MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellows, and more. Hermitage scholars regularly describe their time at the Hermitage as “magical”, “transformative” and “life-changing”.
“I would like to thank all the jurors of the Prix de l’Ermitage 2022; I am extremely grateful and delighted to have this opportunity, especially at this early stage of my career, to meet and interact with artists from all fields. and disciplines that all create amazing work,” Rocha said after learning she had won the award. “The benefits of being in such a place are countless, and I look forward to the time I will spend and the work that I will create at the Hermitage.”
Sofía Rocha is originally from Boulder, Colorado and grew up in Naples, Florida. Rocha writes music of uncompromising emotional intensity while exploring cognition, chance, rhythm and counterpoint in post-tonal frameworks. She writes for all kinds of performing forces: instrumental, vocal and electronic. Recent and upcoming projects include newly commissioned works for the 2022 Aspen Music Festival as a Composition Fellow, the International Contemporary Ensemble and the Fifth House Ensemble as Fromm Foundation Fellow at the 2020 Fresh Inc. Festival. Rocha’s first orchestral work, Replier, was chosen as the winner of the 2020 New England Philharmonic Annual Call for Scores and premiered in May 2022. Rocha also received honors from ASCAP , the OM/NI Composition Competition and the Tenebrae New Music Ensemble. . Rocha is also an avid trombonist and conductor, having performed with numerous symphony orchestras, wind ensembles and jazz bands. (Full biography below.)
Previous residencies for AMFS Hermitage Prize winners have led to exciting collaborations, lasting friendships and extraordinary new compositions. Former winner Sid Richardson (2018) notes that winning the Hermitage Prize was “an affirmation of my musical explorations. I can’t think of a greater opportunity for a young artist than to be given the time, space and a community as-spirited individuals within which to work.” Last year’s award recipient David Clay Mettens (2021) added: “My time at the Hermitage was such a gift – I found the natural beauty of the grounds rejuvenating and my interactions with artists from other disciplines so artistically fulfilling. I can’t imagine a better opportunity for a young composer than to be in the presence of creative luminaries in their respective fields.” Previous winners of the Prix de l’Ermitage are: Patrick Harlin (2013); Thomas Kotcheff (2014); Phillip Sink (2015); Andrew Hsu (2016); Joel Thompson (2017); Sid Richardson (2018); Chelsea Komschlies (2019); and David Clay Mettens (2021). The Hermitage Prize was not awarded in 2020, as the festival and music school in Aspen were on hiatus due to the pandemic.
The Hermitage welcomes artists to its Gulf Coast Manasota Key campus for multi-week residencies, where diverse and accomplished artists from around the world and across multiple disciplines create and develop new works of visual art, theater, music, literature, dance, etc. As part of their residencies, Hermitage Fellows participate in free community programs, providing audiences from across the Gulf Coast region with a unique opportunity to engage with some of the world’s leading artists and gain insight. authenticity of extraordinary projects and artistic minds before their works are exhibited in major galleries, concert halls, theaters and museums around the world. These free and innovative programs include performances, talks, interactive experiences, readings, open studios, school programs, teacher workshops, and more, serving thousands of people in our regional community each year. Past Hermitage Fellows have included fifteen Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur “Genius” Fellows, Poet Laureates, National Book Award winners, and several Tony, Grammy, Oscar, and Emmy Award nominees and winners.
To learn more about the Aspen Music Festival and School and the current programming schedule, visit AspenMusicFestival.com. To learn more about the Hermitage and its upcoming programs, or to support this organization in its mission to champion artists and the creative process, visit HermitageArtistRetreat.org.