Like the Nobel decision to give the literature prize to Bob Dylan, the Pulitzer Prize music award to an album by hip-hop performer Kendrick Lamar is an almighty kick in the teeth of contemporary composition, whether fiction or orchestral music.
It is the first time the Pulitzer has gone to a work that is neither classical nor jazz and the Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy said afterwards, ‘We are very proud of this selection.’
She added: ‘I think this is a huge moment for the music industry and the Pulitzer Prize.’
Two classical works were shortlisted in he final selection- Quartet by Michael Gilbertson and Sound from the Bench, by Ted Hearne. Any half-awake critic could have named a dozen recent classical works by US composers that warrant serious consideration, but the jury were clearly onto something else.
The people who made this decision were:
– Regina Carter, jazz violinist, Maywood, NJ (Chair, pictured)
– Paul Cremo, dramaturg/director of opera commissioning program, The Metropolitan Opera
– Farah Jasmine Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies, Columbia University
– David Hajdu, music critic, The Nation and professor of journalism, Columbia University
– David Lang, composer, New York City (Pulitzer Prize Winner)
Perhaps they would care to elucidate their criteria?