The Hermitage Surprises Composer Angelica Negron with Greenfield Prize

Todays News

Pictured: Angelica Negron. Photo Credit: Catalina Kulczar.

As Angélica Negrón sat in the Zoom waiting room, the composer and multi-instrumentalist had no idea what awaited her when she joined the chat. A finalist for the prestigious $30,000 Greenfield Prize that includes a 6-week residency at The Hermitage, she was led to believe she was in the waiting room with the other three finalists and that the announcement would be made with all finalists together in the chat. But The Hermitage’s artistic director and CEO, Andy Sandberg, has a flair for the dramatic.

“She doesn’t actually know that she’s already won,” said Sandberg to the nearly 100 guests that joined in for the virtual announcement ceremony.

When Sandberg finally let Negrón into the chat and made the announcement, her shock and jubilation manifested themselves as a touching moment of vulnerability. “This definitely caught me off guard,” she said, “and this is my first time crying on Zoom.”

The Puerto Rican-born Negrón, who lives in New York City, composes music for accordions, robotic instruments, toys and electronics as well as for chamber ensembles and orchestras. Her musical compositions span genres and aesthetics, ranging all the way from stripped down piano pieces to quirky, avant garde soundscapes comprised of dings, scratches and white noise.

Of her work’s artistic and cultural significance, those in virtual attendance got a rare chance to meet three jurors involved in Negron’s selection, and juror Terrance McKnight described it best. “Angelica’s music places value on the softest, most vulnerable instruments in the room,” he said. “In her scores, even the robots have a pulse. Her compositional insight is the heartbeat of true democracy.”

For Negron, who remained emotional for the duration of her time on screen, McKnight’s comments echo the spirit in which she received the award. “I’m just so moved to know that [my interview] resonated,” she says. “I was really excited about what I proposed, but I didn’t know how I did. It’s a testament that being vulnerable is fruitful.”

Negron begins her residency later this year and is set to compose a piece intended to be played as the sun sets. The composition will be inspired by the sun’s low-frequency sounds as captured by NASA.


Pictured: Angelica Negron. Photo Credit: Catalina Kulczar.

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