Israeli-born composer Avner Dorman is the winner of the 2018 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music, for his composition, Nigunim for Violin and Orchestra.
The $50,000 cash prize is granted biennially to a composer who has written the best new major work of Jewish music, and is accompanied by a gala world premiere performance and a professional recording of the work.
Dorman, who now lives in Gettysburg, Pa., has garnered numerous awards and prizes. At the age of 25, he became the youngest composer to win Israel’s prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for his Ellef Symphony.
Dorman holds a doctorate in composition from the Juilliard School and currently serves as an associate professor of music theory and composition at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College and as the music director of the CityMusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra.
“When writing Nigunim (prayer melodies), I was most interested in exploring the music of various Jewish traditions from around the world,” said Dorman.
“The diversity and wealth of musical traditions I discovered astounded me, ranging from North African cantillation to Central Asian wedding music, and from Balkan rhythms to ancient prayers. I tried to embody both the unique features and deep commonalities of these traditions in my composition.”
Azrieli Foundation board director Sharon Azrieli, who initially conceived of the prize and has been overseeing its development, says she is thrilled with the jury’s decision.
“His Nigunim for Violin and Orchestra has within it all the elements we were seeking when we created these prizes. With its gravitas and expressivity, it conveys the meaning and continuity of the Jewish soul. It also remarkably unites the many styles of music of Jewish communities from around the world,” she said.
“I am confident that this is another work that will enter the repertoire to become a well-known and beloved concerto among violinists and audiences alike.”
Jury member Aaron Jay Kernis added that, “Dorman’s music is marked by soulful expression joined to rich, inventive orchestral colour and virtuosic flair. The jury is delighted that his violin concerto is the second worthy winner of this important prize.”
In September, the Azrieli Foundation announced that Canadian Kelly-Marie Murphy won the 2018 Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music.
Both compositions will be performed at the Azrieli Music Prizes gala concert on Oct. 15 at the Maison symphonique de Montréal, featuring the McGill Chamber Orchestra and guest conductor Yoav Talmi.