Bent Sørensen, a 59-year-old Danish composer, has been awarded the 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Music Competition by the University of Louisville. Sørensen’s work, “L’isola della Città (The Island in the City),” is a five-movement triple concerto for violin, cello and piano with orchestra.
He created the piece, which debuted in January 2016, for the Danish ensemble Trio con Brio and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra.
The Berlingske Newspaper called “L’isola della Città” Sørensen’s “best work to date” and said it was a “miracle of dreaming atmospheres creating images.”
“In all five movements, the ‘island’ (the trio) tries to escape the shadows of the orchestra,” wrote Sørensen. “This is most evident in the last movement, in which the trio ever so silently and without attracting any attention, simply glides away from the orchestra’s noisy shadows.”
The composer is known for his singular take on tonalities and ethereal echoes and repetitions. Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim once said of Sørensen’s work, “it reminds me of something I’ve never heard.”
Marc Satterwhite, award director and faculty member at the UofL School of Music, said of the award-winning concerto:
“It is not a virtuoso showcase, but rather integrates the soloists smoothly into an ever-evolving orchestral texture. Often they feel more like ‘first among equals’ rather than traditional soloists, but at other times really come to the fore. Although it has its larger moments, on the whole it is one of the gentler, more introspective, winners of this award.”
UofL will announce each of its five Grawemeyer Award winners over the course of this week. The awards honor recipients who embody the passions of H. Charles Grawemeyer, a Louisville entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. Grawemeyer established the awards in 1984 to celebrate, inspire and nurture achievements in music composition, education, religion, psychology and ideas improving world order.
The 2018 winners will present free lectures about their award-winning ideas when they visit Louisville in April to accept their $100,000 prizes.