The Hermitage Artist Retreat has announced the recipient of the 2022 Greenfield Prize: composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón.
The Puerto Rico-born artist, who lives and works in Brooklyn, received the good news via a Zoom meeting with Hermitage supporters, media and others. The prize includes a $30,000 commission and a six-week residency at the retreat’s historic beachfront property on Manasota Key. And, true to the tradition of these announcements, it came as a welcome surprise, one that had Negrón responding emotionally with gratitude and a tear or two. “It’s my first time crying on Zoom,” she said.
Negrón writes original music for accordions, robotic instruments, toys and electronics, as well as chamber ensembles and orchestras. She is a founding member of the tropical electronic band Balún, and her music has been performed at the Kennedy Center and the 2016 New York Philharmonic Biennial. She has also composed scores for the documentary films Landfall and Memories of a Penitent Heart.
Hermitage Artist Retreat artistic director and CEO Andy Sandberg welcomed participants to the announcement meeting before introducing the jurors who chose Negrón: WQXR New York Public Radio host Terrance McNight; composer, violinist and educator Jessie Montgomery; and director of education and community engagement at the New York Philharmonic Gary Padmore. Sandberg also told listeners that three finalists for the prize include jazz trumpeter/composer Etienne Charles, genre-bending violinist Curtis Stewart, and violin and freestyle composition artist Mazz Swift, each of whom will receive a Hermitage Fellowship in addition to a prize of $1,000.
In Negrón’s work, McKnight noted during the event, which employs frequently overlooked instruments, “even robots have a pulse.” Negrón had been on the short list of possible recipients for all three jurors.
The Greenfield Prize is presented in collaboration with the Philadelphia-based Greenfield Foundation each year, alternating among the disciplines of theater, visual arts and music. The 2019 prize winner, also in music, composer Helga Davis, will premiere her commissioned work, Ocean Body, in Sarasota later this year in collaboration with Ensemble New SRQ and New College of Florida. The presentation of Pulitzer Prize and Hermitage Greenfield Prize winter Martyna Majok’s new play, in partnership with Asolo Rep, was postponed due to Covid and is also expected for 2022.
Negrón’s commission, which will premiere here in 2024, will be “timed with the setting sun and inspired partly by the sun’s low-frequency sounds, featuring slowly evolving musical textures, shifting patterns, natural sounds and changes in scale and dimension that play with the unfolding gradations of light and color on the surrounding land, water and sky,” according to a press release. Sandberg did not announce yet what area arts group will collaborate to present the project here, preferring to keep that flexible for the moment.
Negrón will be celebrated at the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner April 10 at Michael’s On East. For more information about that, the Greenfield Prize and other Hermitage programs, visit hermitageartistretreat.org.