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Harbison wins AMC’s Founders Award

Honored for lifetime achievement in American music
Institute Professor John Harbison performs during MIT's Next Century Convocation in April.
Institute Professor John Harbison performs during MIT's Next Century Convocation in April.
Photo: Dominick Reuter

Institute Professor John Harbison was presented on Monday night with the American Music Center’s Founders Award, given since 1999 for lifetime achievement in the field of new American music. Previous winners of the award have included Elliott Carter, Steve Reich, Charles Ives, Count Basie and Philip Glass.

“The American Music Center is thrilled to confer its Founders Award on John Harbison,” AMC President and CEO Joanne Hubbard Cossa said in a release. “A beacon in the field and recipient of many previous awards, he not only composes and conducts, but shares his wisdom and talents with others through teaching.”

The AMC is dedicated to fostering the creation, performance, and enjoyment of new American music. The organization’s Founders Award is named in honor of its six founders: Aaron Copland, Howard Hansen, Marion Bauer, Otto Luening, Quincy Porter and Harrison Kerr.

Harbison joined the MIT faculty in 1984 as the Class of 1949 Professor of Music. In 1995, he was named Institute Professor, the highest honor awarded by MIT's faculty and administration.

As a conductor, Harbison has led a number of top orchestras and chamber groups. From 1990 to 1992 he was creative chair with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, conducting music from Monteverdi to the present, and in 1991, at the Ojai Festival, he led the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Harbison has also conducted many other ensembles, among them the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In 1998, Harbison was named winner of the Heinz Award for the Arts and Humanities. He is the recipient of numerous other awards, among them the Distinguished Composer award from the American Composer's Orchestra (2002), the Harvard Arts Medal (2000), the American Music Center's Letter of Distinction (2000), the Kennedy Center Friedheim First Prize, a MacArthur Fellowship (1989), and the Pulitzer Prize (1987).

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