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Rhiannon Giddens & Michael Abels Win 2023 Pulitzer Prize in Music – Billboard

Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Music, it was announced on Monday (May 8). They won for their opera Omar, which premiered on May 27, 2022, at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, S.C.

The Pulitzer Prize committee called it “an innovative and compelling opera about enslaved people brought to North America from Muslim countries, a musical work that respectfully represents African as well as African American traditions, expanding the language of the operatic form while conveying the humanity of those condemned to bondage.”

Other finalists for the prize this year were Monochromatic Light (Afterlife) by Tyshawn Sorey and Perspective by Jerrilynn Patton.

Giddens, 46, has won two Grammy Awards – best traditional folk album for Genuine Negro Jig (2011) and best folk album for They’re Calling Me Home (2022).

Abels, 60, has scored all three of Jordan Peele’s film to date as a director – Get Out (2017), Us (2019) and Nope (2022), plus other films. He received two Primetime Emmy nods two years ago for his work on the HBO film Allen v. Farrow.

Omar, for which Giddens wrote the libretto, had its West Coast premiere at Los Angeles Opera in October 2022. It was performed at Carolina Performing Arts in February 2023, and will have its New England premiere at Boston Lyric Opera in May 2023.

The opera is about a real person, Omar ibn Said, and is based on his autobiography A Muslim American Slave: The Life of Omar ibn Said, written in 1831, mostly in Arabic. The work was translated into English by Ala Alryyes and published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2011.

The Pulitzer Prize for music has been awarded since 1943. Previous recipients include Kendrick Lamar for DAMN. (2018), Ornette Coleman for Sound Grammar (2007), Wynton Marsalis for Blood on the Fields (1997), Morton Gould for String Music (1995) and Aaron Copland for Appalacian Spring (1945).

This story originally appeared on Billboard

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