Matīss Čudars Wins the 2023 Hermitage Prize in Composition at Aspen Music Festival & School

The Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Aspen Music Festival and School (Aspen, Colorado) announce that Matīss Čudars, a composition student at AMFS, has been selected as the recipient of the 2023 Hermitage Prize in Composition.Čudars is the tenth recipient of this annual award, which includes a residency at the Hermitage, along with a $1,000 cash stipend. Čudars was selected by a jury that includes multiple Grammy Award winner Robert Spano, Music Director of the AMFS and the Atlanta Symphony and a past member of the Hermitage Curatorial Council; award-winning composer and celebrated arts administrator Alan Fletcher, AMFS President and CEO; and the composition faculty of the AMFS, including Grammy Award-winning Hermitage Fellow Christopher Theofanidis.

Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg presented the award to Čudars at the Aspen Music Festival’s Benedict Tent, alongside Fletcher, Theofanidis, and award-winning composer and Hermitage Fellow Nico Muhly. This unique initiative, launched in 2013 and now celebrating its tenth anniversary, reflects an invaluable partnership between AMFS and the Hermitage, designed to champion new and original works and to recognize exceptional talent in the field of contemporary classical music. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of this award, the Hermitage and AMFS produced a retrospective video featuring exclusive interviews with past winners, distinguished AMFS faculty members, and renowned thought leaders in music, which can be seen here (URL link below). The idea for the prize 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.

“We are thrilled to recognize Matīss Čudarsas the winner of the tenth Hermitage Prize. He is a brilliant young composer and musician, and a welcome addition to the Hermitage family,” noted Sandberg. “We were delighted that the weekend’s festivities could be celebrated alongside fellow Hermitage alumni including Robert Spano, Nico Muhly, and Christopher Theofanidis.” Sandberg adds that the Hermitage Prize at AMFS is the only student residency awarded each year; all other Hermitage 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 unmatched Hermitage experience with leading artists from all around the world.” 

“I am deeply honored and filled with gratitude for being bestowed the prestigious Hermitage Prize in Composition,” added Čudars after learning the news of his recognition. “With fifty thousand creative ideas for new compositions, projects, and albums swirling within my mind, coupled with new commissions awaiting my attention, this prize has arrived at the most opportune moment. The nurturing embrace of the Hermitage, coupled with the breathtaking expanse of the Manasota Key landscape, presents an environment that promises to amplify my artistic endeavors. Engaging with fellow artists at the Hermitage and relishing in the privilege of uninterrupted concentration, I am excited to bring a multitude of these creative ideas to life.”

Matīss Čudars is a Latvian composer and guitar player. Čudars draws upon a diverse musical upbringing encompassing math-rock, jazz, classical music, and avant-garde improv. Matīss earned his master’s degree in music from Yale in 2023. He is a graduate of Amsterdam Conservatory with a bachelor’s in music for jazz guitar. With an insatiable creative drive, he transcends genres and aesthetics, constantly exploring new musical frontiers. Upcoming projects include the newly commissioned works for the 2023 Aspen Music Festival as a Composition Fellow and a new Helēna Sorokina work for soprano voice and bass clarinet. In 2024, Matīss will create a new opera for 16 voices, guitar and percussion for the Latvian Radio Choir as well as a new piano work for the Latvian Symphony Orchestra Chamber Group.