The Division One will perform «Ceremonies» by Ellen Zwilich

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The bands participating in the First Section of the “Ciudad de Valencia” 2024 International Music Band Contest will have to perform the score “Ceremonies” by Ellen Zwilich as a mandatory piece.


Ellen Taaffe Zwilich was born in Miami in 1939. She began her music studies as a violinist and received a Bachelor of Music from Florida State University in 1960. She went on to study composition at Julliard, becoming the first woman to earn a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition. In 1983 she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Her earlier works were atonal but later became postmodernist and neo-romantic. Her prizes include the 1983 Pulitzer Prize in Music, the Arturo Toscanini Music Critics Award, the Ernst von Dohnányi Citation, an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, four Grammy nominations, the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Chamber Music Prize, the Alfred I. Dupont Award, the Miami Performing Arts Center Award, the Medaglia d’oro in the G.B. Viotti Competition and the NPR and WNYC Gotham Award, among others.

She has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1995 she was appointed as the first Composer’s Chair in the history of Carnegie Hall and in 1999 she was named Musical America’s Composer of the Year.

A prolific composer in virtually all media, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s works have been performed by most of the leading American orchestras and by major international ensembles  such as the San Francisco Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra, as well as by the most distinguished conductors such as Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Sir Georg Solti, Seiji Ozawa, Daniel Barenboim, Lorin Maazel, Jesús López-Cobos and Zubin Mehta, among many others.


Commissioned by the Florida State University (FSU) School of Music, with funding assistance from affiliated FSU partners and the Division of Cultural Affairs of the Florida Department of State, Ceremonies (previously entitled Symphony for Winds) was premiered by the FSU Wind Orchestra, conducted by James Croft from the National American Band Masters Association in Tallahassee, Florida.


Zwilich’s extensive experience as an ensemble performer is clearly shown in this idiomatic work. Its three movements are: Maestoso/Allegro, featuring the development of three motifs; Elegy (in memory of Manley P. Whitcomb, director of bands and coordinator of music education at FSU from 1953 to 1977); and Allegro Vivo, beginning with an active melody and concluding with a return to the opening Maestoso.