January 31, 2000

More Information:
Eastman Office of Communications, 585-274-1050

Augusta Read Thomas, a member of the composition faculty at the Eastman School of Music, is winner of a sponsorship prize from the Ernst von Siemens Foundation.

The award will be presented at a ceremony June 20 in Munich, Germany. The sponsorship of 50,000 German marks (approximately $27,000—$30,000) is not meant to commission a specific musical composition, but is to be used by Thomas to support her overall work as a composer.

"It is deeply gratifying to receive such generous support," Thomas said. "When the news arrived, you can imagine my sincere thankfulness, my surprise, and my deep passion to continue on with my life’s work: composing music."

Established in 1972 by Ernst von Siemens, the award program recognizes special achievements by composers, performers and musicologists "to further their artistic production," according to information from the Siemens Foundation. Each year, the foundation’s Board of Trustees selects one winner for the major prize of 250,000 German marks (approximately $130,000), and presents a number of sponsorship prizes totaling more than a million marks (about $600,000).

The board currently comprises leading composers, a conductor, a musicologist and two managers of cultural establishments. Past recipients of the Siemens Award include composers Benjamin Britten, Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez and György Ligetti; conductors Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein; pianist Rudolf Serkin; and violinist Yehudi Menuhin.

Ernst von Siemens’ grandfather was founder of Siemens AG, now a worldwide producer of electrical and electronic products with headquarters in Munich.

Frequently listed among America’s top young composers, Augusta Read Thomas is an associate professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music and also holds the position of Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Conductors including Pierre Boulez, Daniel Barenboim, Seiji Ozawa, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonard Slatkin and John Nelson have programmed her music. She has won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, ASCAP, BMI, the American Academy, the Institute for American Music, and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others.