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Serbian-American Composer Aleksandra Vrebalov Wins 2024 Grawemeyer Award

Vrebalov will receive a cash prize of $100,000 for her work "Missa Supratext," a piece for girls' choir and string quartet


University of Louisville's Grawemeyer Awards have been running since 1984, and comprise five prizes given annually in the fields of music, political science, psychology, education, and religion. The composition prize carries a value of $100,000, and is given for a large-scale work that premiered in the five years before the deadline for the award.

Composer Aleksandra Vrebalov has been named as the 2024 recipient for her work Missa Supratext. Scored for string quartet and girls' chorus, the piece sets a text of made-up words, in favor of a broader view of "planetary interconnectedness."

Born in Serbia, Vrebalov arrived in America in 1995. She has composed more than 90 works, and these have been commissioned by more than 25 organizations — including the English National Ballet and Carnegie Hall.

The Kronos Quartet has been a particular supporter of her music, and has premiered 15 works since 1997.

"Vrebalov’s music transports and envelops the listener," said Matthew Ertz, the director of the music award. "Her winning piece emphasizes the universality of human expression through music, bypassing a single language, style or tradition. She blends together diverse harmonies, rhythms, styles and improvisations, conveying her devotion to music and to the uniqueness of all things."

"Missa Supratext is unrelated to any religion because the creative force driving all life does not care about culture, language or religion," Vrebalov said of the work. "The words are made up and have no meaning. The piece goes beyond verbal narrative to show how all life on our planet is interconnected."

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