Nontraditional choral work wins Grawemeyer music prize
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LOUISVILLE, Ky., Dec. 4, 2023 ~ Serbian-American composer Aleksandra Vrebalov has been awarded the 2024 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Music Composition for her work, "Missa Supratext". The 22-minute choral piece was premiered in 2018 by the Kronos Quartet and San Francisco Girls' Chorus, conducted by Valerie Sainte-Agathe.

Vrebalov's work is a nontraditional choral piece for string quartet and girls' chorus, incorporating bells, Tibetan bowls and musical saw. The Latin title translates to "Mass Above Words" in English. Vrebalov said of her work: "The words are made up and have no meaning. The piece goes beyond verbal narrative to show how all life on our planet is interconnected."

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Matthew Ertz, music award director, said of Vrebalov's music: "Her winning piece emphasizes the universality of human expression through music, bypassing a single language, style or tradition. She blends together diverse harmonies, rhythms, styles and improvisations, conveying her devotion to music and to the uniqueness of all things."

Vrebalov has composed more than 90 works since moving to the United States in 1995. Her works have been performed by ensembles worldwide including Carnegie Hall and the English National Ballet. She has also taught music at Serbia's Novi Sad University and City University of New York.

The Grawemeyer Awards are annual $100,000 prizes that honor seminal ideas in world order, psychology, education and religion. Recipients will visit Louisville in the spring to accept their awards and give free talks on their winning ideas. Aleksandra Vrebalov is one such recipient for her work "Missa Supratext".
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