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Evan Ziporyn wins 2006 Kepes Prize

Evan Ziporyn, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music, has been awarded the 2006 Gyorgy Kepes Fellowship Prize by the Council for the Arts at MIT. The award will be presented on Thursday, Oct. 26, at the council's 34th annual meeting.

Established in 1982, the award is named for painter, designer, author and educator Gyorgy Kepes (1906-2002), founder of MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS). It is given annually to a member of the MIT community whose creative work reflects the vision and values of Kepes, who was celebrated for his work exploring the relationship between art and science, and art and the environment.

"I came here 16 years ago unfinished as an artist, though I didn't know it at the time," said Ziporyn. "MIT provided me with the stimulation and support to follow through on ideas that otherwise may have gone uncompleted. I know I'm a different musician now as a result."

An acclaimed clarinetist and composer, Ziporyn is a member of the Bang on a Can All-stars (Musical America's 2005 Ensemble of the Year) and the Steve Reich Ensemble, and has also worked with, among others, Paul Simon, DJ Spooky, Meredith Monk, Matthew Shipp, Henry Threadgill and Cecil Taylor.

Ziporyn, who has been involved with Balinese gamelan since taking a Fulbright Fellowship in Indonesia in 1987, is internationally recognized for his works combining Balinese gamelan with western instruments and electronics. He founded the MIT-based Gamelan Galak Tika in 1993 and continues to direct the ensemble, which toured Bali in 2005.

This fall has marked two Carnegie Hall premieres for Ziporyn: on Sept. 16-17 in Carnegie's Zankel Hall, Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble premiered his commissioned piece, "Sulvasutra," written for Indian tabla player Sandeep Das and Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man, and a string quartet. On Oct. 13, the American Composers Orchestra premiered his bass clarinet concerto, "Big Grenadilla," also in Zankel Hall.

Ziporyn's new CD, "Frog's Eye," released in conjunction with the Carnegie Hall premiere of "Big Grenadilla," features four orchestral works in which Ziporyn applies his global ear to the sounds and structures of the Western orchestra. Created in collaboration with conductor Gil Rose's Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the album showcases Ziporyn's ability to reinvent standard ensembles through the addition of Hawaiian guitar, electric piano, Tang dynasty poetry, and his own unique virtuosity on the bass clarinet.

The Council for the Arts at MIT is a volunteer organization of MIT alumni and friends, founded in 1972 to foster and support the visual, literary and performing arts at the Institute.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 25, 2006 (download PDF).

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