From the February 2014 Desktop News | MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton will spend a week at the Capstone in spring 2015 thanks to a $40,000 grant won by Dr. Andrew Raffo Dewar, assistant professor in New College and the School of Music and co-director of UA’s Creative Campus. Braxton’s weeklong residency is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, and plans are in the works to give University of Alabama music and dance students the opportunity to rehearse with Braxton and participate in interdisciplinary, world-premiere performances combining original music and choreography.
Braxton’s musical career spans more than five decades. His many awards include a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2009 honorary doctorate from the Université de Liège in Belgium, a 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and a 2013 New Music USA Letter of Distinction. He is also a 2014 NEA Jazz Master and recently retired after serving 24 years as a tenured professor at Wesleyan University.
Braxton’s visit to UA is part of Sonic Frontiers, a concert series organized by Dewar and New College instructor Holland Hopson. The series brings innovative and experimental musicians to West Alabama and invites creative exchanges between world-class performers, students and the greater community.
Dewar, who studied with Braxton in graduate school and has performed and recorded with Braxton professionally since 2005, said Braxton’s music is exploratory, uncompromising and a “celebrated and singular voice of the 20th and 21st centuries.”
“I can say unequivocally that [Braxton’s] presence in our community will have a profound effect,” Dewar said. “He has an incisive, yet open, positive and generous, critical view of the role of the arts in our world. It should be a momentous series of events.”
During the residency, Braxton will perform alone, with professional ensembles and with students. He will rehearse with the University’s percussion and jazz ensembles, perform his interactive electroacoustic “Diamond Curtain Wall Music,” and rehearse and perform his “Pine Top Aerial Music” interdisciplinary piece of music and choreography with UA dancers and faculty.
Braxton’s residency is being funded through an Art Works grant provided by the NEA. This grant is the third major award Dewar has received within the last two years. Dewar received a New Jazz Works grant in 2012 from Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Foundation, which provided funding for Dewar to compose a new hour-long piece for his San Francisco Bay Area-based quartet. The commissioned piece, “Ekphrasis Suite,” premiered in November 2013 at the Center for New Music in San Francisco. Dewar also received in 2013 a Southern Constellations artist fellowship from the NEA to fund his summer residency at the Elsewhere museum in Greensboro, N.C.
The NEA received 1,528 eligible Art Works applications this year requesting more than $75 million in funding. Of those applications, 895 were recommended for grants for a total of $23.4 million. Grant amounts ranged from $10,000 to $100,000 with an average grant amount of $26,154.