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President MaryAnn Baenninger says Wolfe is an ideal fit for Drew.
Photo: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Wolfe will co-teach a course, lead events and mentor undergraduates.

October 2016 – Julia Wolfe, the 2016-17 Andrew W. Mellon Artist-in-Residence at Drew University, continues to amass accolades.

A year after earning the Pulitzer Prize for Music, the composer is a recipient of a “genius grant”  from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which recognizes “originality, insight and potential.” Wolfe’s other honors include two Obie awards and a music award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

At Drew, Wolfe will co-teach a course on documentary expression with Associate Professor Rebecca Soderholm; speak about Anthracite Fields, her Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio; lead a residency of her music ensemble, Bang on a Can; organize a symposium on documentary art; and partner with Professor Jennifer Olmsted on a new offering in New York City: the Semester on Social Entrepreneurship. And remarkably, all that will happen during the spring 2017 semester.

“We are so pleased to have Julia Wolfe, a world-class talent, Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur ‘genius,’ mentoring our students and participating in Drew’s community life,” Drew President MaryAnn Baenninger said. “And many thanks to the Mellon Foundation, whose support brought Julia to our campus.”

Wolfe cited Drew’s “strong commitment to the arts” as a key attraction to the residency, adding, “I am excited to bring some of my world to the students and to learn from them.”

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The composer is an associate professor at NYU.
Photo: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Wolfe, Drew’s third Artist-in-Residence under a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, was selected based on her “interest in combining music composition with oral history and archival research into the lives and struggles of American workers,” said Leslie Sprout, associate professor of music at Drew.

That interest, Sprout added, “dovetails perfectly with the goal of the Mellon grant: to engage with how the arts can strengthen communities beyond our immediate surroundings.”

Examples of Wolfe’s public consciousness include Anthracite Fields, which was inspired by stories about Pennsylvania coal miners, and a new piece she’s developing for the New York Philharmonic, which is based on the role of women in the New York garment industry during the early 20th century. That piece—for orchestra and chorus—will be performed during the Philharmonic’s 2018-19 season.

Wolfe has a PhD from Princeton University, a master’s from Yale University and a bachelor’s from the University of Michigan, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Since 2009, she has been an associate professor of composition at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. She also has taught at the Manhattan School of Music.