Noted VCCA Composer Dies

VCCA has learned that award-winning American composer, Lee Hyla, died peacefully June 6 in Chicago at the age of 61.

Hyla, the Harry N. and Ruth F. Wyatt Chair in Music at Northwestern’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music Theory and Composition, employed contemporary atonal idioms, elements of avant-garde jazz, rock and even punk in his complex compositions. Anthony Tommasini called his credentials within the avant-garde and academic music circles “unassailable" in his 2013 article on Hyla in The New York Times.

Hyla received commissions from such prestigious artists as the Kronos Quartet, Midori, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He also composed for other ensembles, including the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Speculum Musicae. He received commissions from the Koussevitzky, Fromm, Barlow and Naumberg foundations, the Mary Flagler Carey Charitable Trust, Concert Artists Guild, Chamber Music America and the Meet the Composer/Readers Digest Consortium. His music has been recorded on Nonesuch, New World, Avant, Tzadik and CRI labels.

Hyla’s roster of honors includes the Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the Goddard Lieberson Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the St. Botolph Club Award and the Rome Prize. He served as resident composer of the American Academy in Rome and a composition fellow at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France and was an Aaron Copland fellow at the Bogliasco Foundation in Genoa, Italy.

Hyla was a Fellow at Mt. San Angelo in 2001 and a Fellow, along with his wife, Katherine Desjardins, at VCCA-France in 2011where he also served as composer-in-residence for the Etchings Festival while in Auvillar. He was planning to serve as composer-in-residence later this month for New England Conservatory’s Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice.


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