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John Zorn Receives Schuman Award From Columbia

Composer John Zorn will receive the 2007 William Schuman Award from Columbia University on Thursday, April 26 at Columbia’s Miller Theatre.

The School of Arts at Columbia has periodically given the Schuman Award over the last 25 years, which entails a direct, unrestricted grant of $50,000. The purpose of the award, given by the Dean of the School of Arts, is to “recognize the lifetime achievement of an American composer whose works have been widely performed and generally acknowledged to be of lasting significance.”

Drawing influence from a number of sources, Zorn, a native New Yorker, has dabbled in a little bit of nearly every genre imaginable-jazz, rock, hardcore punk, classical, klezmer, film soundtracks, cartoon, popular and improvised music.

From the press release:

“He [Zorn] learned alchemical synthesis from Harry Smith, structural ontology with Richard Foreman, how to make art out of garbage with Jack Smith, cathartic expression at Slug’s, and hermetic intuition from Joseph Cornell. Early inspirations include American innovators Ives, Varèse, Cage, Carter, and Partch; the European tradition of Berg, Stravinsky, Boulez, and Kagel; soundtrack composers Herrmann, Morricone, and Stalling; and avant-garde theatre, film, and art.

Described as ‘endlessly inventive’ by George Steel, the Executive Director of Columbia’s Miller Theatre, Zorn was celebrated with one of Miller’s signature Composer Portraits this past October. Also this year, the composer won a ‘genius’ grant from the MacArthur Foundation. Miller will host a concert and awards ceremony for the Schuman recognition on Thursday, April 26 (concert details to be announced).”

Many critics and fans consider Zorn’s breakout to be his 1985 album The Big Gundown, wild renditions of the works of famous Italian spaghetti western composer, Ennio Morricone. Morricone praised Zorn’s interpretations.

In 1995, Zorn started his own label, Tzadik, dedicated to recording music from experimental and avant-garde musicians.

Originally Published