American composer Tyshawn Sorey wins the 2024 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Music for his composition Adagio (For Wadada Leo Smith). The jury says it is « an introspective saxophone concerto with a wide range of textures presented in a slow tempo, a beautiful homage that’s quietly intense, treasuring intimacy rather than spectacle. Adagio (For Wadada Leo Smith) is ostensibly a concerto for saxophone and orchestra, but in many ways, it is an anti-concerto. Concertos are usually showcases for dazzling displays of virtuosic technique. This work requires a great deal of technique, but of a much more subtle variety. Instead of rapid-fire outbursts of sixteenth or thirty- second notes the soloist and orchestra are asked to play at the glacial tempo of thirty-six quarter notes per minute. The dynamics are extremely quiet. It is more about introversion than extroversion. The players and the listeners need to settle in for twenty minutes as the work unfolds slowly and quietly with beautiful, sustained harmonies and only slightly less sustained melodies introduced via the orchestra or intermittently by the saxophone soloist. This stately but understated work is a welcome respite from the chaos and intrusiveness of modern life.

Adagio (For Wadada Leo Smith)was commissioned by the Lucerne Festival and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. It received its world premiere in Lucerne on August 20, 2022 and its US premiere in Atlanta on March 16, 2023. The soloist for both performances was Timothy McAllister. The US premiere was part of New Music USA’s Amplifying Voices program.

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