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May 17, 2011

Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon a Pulitzer Prize finalist

Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon
Zohn-Muldoon

Composer Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, an associate professor of composition at the Eastman School, was a finalist for a 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his work “Comala,” which the Pulitzer committee described as an “ambitious cantata that translates into music an influential work of Latin American literature, giving voice to two cultures that intersect within the term ‘America.’” The Pulitzer Prizes were announced on Monday, April 18; the winner of the prize for music was Zhou Long for his opera Madame White Snake. Only one other composer, Fred Lerdahl, was named a finalist in the category.

Zohn-Muldoon’s “Comala” was released in June 2010 by Bridge Records. Based on the novel Pedro Páramo by Mexican novelist and short story writer Juan Rulfo, the cantata unfolds in 13 continuous scenes from the point of view of Juan Preciado, the son of the title character of the book, who dies midway through the novel.

“Comala,” which appears on the recording Cantos, features the Eastman BroadBand ensemble, tenor Scott Perkins, soprano Tony Arnold, and associate professor of composition Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez as the narrator, under the direction of Juan Trigos.

“We are thrilled that Eastman’s Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon was a Pulitzer finalist,” says Eastman School Dean Douglas Lowry. “His ‘Comala’ is an inspiring work that does more than musically blend two cultures; it unearths their inherent tensions and harmonies to startling effect and creates quite another dimension for the deeply textured literary work of writer Juan Rulfo.”

Prior to joining the Eastman faculty in 2002, Zohn-Muldoon held positions at the school of music at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico and the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. His music has been praised for its detailed sculpting of concise musical ideas that unfold in contrapuntal “kaleidoscopes” of intense rhythm and color.

Zohn-Muldoon’s honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Tanglewood Music Center (Omar del Carlo Foundation), Camargo Foundation, Endowment for Culture and the Arts of Mexico, and a Mozart Medal from the Embassy of Austria in Mexico.

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