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Westchester College Lecturer Wins Pulitzer Prize

Du Yun,  a lecturer in the School of the Arts at Purchase College, has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize in music for her operatic work about human trafficking
Du Yun, a lecturer in the School of the Arts at Purchase College, has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize in music for her operatic work about human trafficking Photo Credit: Matthew Jelacic/Courtesy of the artist

PURCHASE, N.Y. -- Du Yun, a lecturer in the School of the Arts at Purchase College, SUNY, has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize in music for Angel's Bone, her groundbreaking operatic work about human trafficking.

The Pulitzer jury described it as a “bold operatic work that integrates vocal and instrumental elements and a wide range of styles into a harrowing allegory for human trafficking in the modern world.”

The piece was first produced at the Protoype Festival, 3LD Arts and Technology Center in New York City in January 2016 and includes a libretto by Royce Vavrek.

Du Yun, who is known for her cutting-edge work, told NPR that “When we look at human trafficking, we always think that it's far away from us.

"We all have our own narrative of what human trafficking is supposed to be, but if you do a little research, human trafficking happens, in many different forms and shapes, right in our backyard."

Born and raised in Shanghai, China, and currently based in New York, Du Yun is a Pulitzer Prize–winning composer, multi-instrumentalist, performance artist, activist, and curator for new music, working at the intersection of orchestral, opera, and chamber music, theatre, cabaret, oral tradition, public performance, sound installation, electronics, and noise.

Hailed by The New York Times as a leading figure in China’s new generation of composers, Du Yun’s music is championed by some of today’s finest performing artists, ensembles, orchestras, and organizations. The National Public Radio (USA) has recently voted her as one of 100 composers under 40.

She currently teaches Electroacoustic Music and Intro to World Music at Purchase College.

“We at Purchase are all deeply proud of Du Yun’s remarkable award," said James Undercofler, Director of the Conservatory of Music.

"Her music, her teaching and she, herself, demonstrate a far-reaching imagination and cunning spirit. She is a treasure, without question.”

Added Purchase College President Thomas J. Schwarz: "We’re grateful that she is equally dedicated to teaching the next generation of composers at Purchase College.”

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