Serbian-American composer Aleksandra Vrebalov, 53, has won the 2024 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Music Composition for Missa Supratext, a nontraditional choral work for string quartet and girls’ chorus.

Kronos Quartet and San Francisco Girls’ Chorus premiered the 22-minute work in 2018 in San Francisco with Valerie Sainte-Agathe conducting. The piece also incorporates bells, Tibetan bowls and musical saw.

“Missa Supratext is unrelated to any religion because the creative force driving all life does not care about culture, language or religion,” Vrebalov said. “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.”

“Vrebalov’s music transports and envelops the listener,” said Matthew Ertz, music award director. “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.”

Vrebalov moved to the United States in 1995 and became a U.S. citizen in 2015. She has composed more than 90 works, including orchestral, chamber, opera and experimental pieces.

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