George Tsontakis has been awarded the 2005 Grawemeyer award in composition. This is very nice to hear. I, along with half a million other student composers, studied with George at the Aspen school; in my case back in the summer ’89. In addition to being a brilliant composer he is a brilliantly funny person–and he does an infamous Peter Falk impression. That humour often comes out in his music, which usually has a very effective kind of American neo-romantic style. In particular, I like his string quartets and the Galway Kinnell songs.
The full title of the honour is the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award For Music Composition. Carrying a prize of US$200K, the award is as prestigious as it is lucrative. Previous winners include Kaija Saariaho, Aaron Jay Kernis, Pierre Boulez, Toru Takemitsu, Karel Husa (who told me he liked my piece Wind and Silver, so he’s alright too), Krzysztof Penderecki, Gyorgy Ligeti and Witold Lutoslawski. George is in very good company.