For distinguished musical composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States during the year, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to Kevin Puts for "Silent Night: Opera in Two Acts," commissioned and premiered by the Minnesota Opera in Minneapolis on November 12, 2011, a stirring opera that recounts the true story of a spontaneous cease-fire among Scottish, French and Germans during World War I, displaying versatility of style and cutting straight to the heart. Libretto by Mark Campbell (Aperto Press).
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: Tod Machover for "Death and the Powers," premiered by the Boston Modern Opera Project in Massachusetts on March 18, 2011, an inventive opera that uses electronic music as it explores a dying billionaire’s attempt to transcend mortality through technology, raising significant questions about human existence. Libretto by Robert Pinsky (Boosey & Hawkes); and Andrew Norman for “The Companion Guide to Rome,” premiered on November 13, 2011 in Salt Lake City, Utah, an impressive musical portrait of nine historic churches, written for a string trio but sometimes giving the illusion of being played by a much larger group, changing mood and mode on a dime (Schott Music).