The Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) announce that David ‘Clay’ Mettens, a composition student at the AMFS’s Susan and Ford Schumann Center for Composition Studies, has been awarded the 2021 Hermitage Prize in Composition. Mettens is the eighth recipient of this annual award, which includes a six-week residency at the Hermitage, along with a $1,000 stipend. Mettens was selected by a jury that includes Alan Fletcher, AMFS president and CEO; Robert Spano, music director of the AMFS and the Atlanta Symphony, music director designate of the Fort Worth Symphony, and member of the Hermitage Curatorial Council; and the composition faculty of the AMFS, including Hermitage Fellow Christopher Theofanidis.
Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg presented the award to Mettens at the Aspen Music Festival and School’s Benedict Music Tent, alongside Fletcher, Spano, and Theofanidis. This unique initiative, which launched in 2013, reflects an invaluable partnership between the AMFS and the Hermitage, designed to champion new and original works and to recognize exceptional talent in the field of classical music. The idea was first conceived when Robert Spano was in residence at the Hermitage and shared with his colleagues in Aspen how beneficial the retreat had been for him and his work. The Hermitage Prize in Composition was created to offer the same experience to young, talented composers just beginning their professional careers.
“I was told by our friends at the AMFS that this was a particularly exceptional year for the composers and musicians, and the talent exceeded my expectations,” notes Sandberg. “It was thrilling to hear Clay’s brilliant work in Aspen, workshopped and performed with the AMFS’s Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra alongside original compositions by fellow composers in the program.” Sandberg adds that the Hermitage Prize in Composition given at the AMFS is the only student residency awarded by the Hermitage each year; all other Fellows are accomplished working professionals and leaders in their field, selected by the Hermitage’s National Curatorial Council. “This provides the recipient of the annual Hermitage Prize in Composition the opportunity to share this Hermitage experience with leading artists from all around the world.”
David “Clay” Mettens is a Chicago-based composer whose works have received numerous accolades, including a 2020 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and Ithaca College’s 2018 Heckscher Foundation Composition Prize. His compositions have been performed by the Brussels Philharmonic, Washington National Opera, Spektral Quartet, and Ensemble Dal Niente, among others. Mettens holds a Ph.D. in music composition from the University of Chicago, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music and University of South Carolina, respectively. This summer, he was a recipient of the Susan and Ford Schumann Scholarship at the Aspen Music Festival and School.
“I’m thrilled to be invited to the Hermitage and work in a stimulating environment, surrounded by artists in other disciplines,” says Mettens. “My compositional imagination is fueled by encounters with literature, poetry, and visual art, and I look forward to practicing my craft in the company of brilliant creators in these disciplines.”
Photo L to R: Christopher Theofanidis, Robert Spano, David ‘Clay’ Mettens, Alan Fletcher, Andy Sandberg. Photo credit/Carlin Ma.