By Fernando Gonzalez
Saxophonist and composer Sonny Rollins has been awarded the Edward MacDowell Medal by The MacDowell Colony, the nation’s leading artist residency program. The prize has been awarded annually since 1960 to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to his/her field. Since the inception of the medal, the Colony, based in Peterborough, NH, has rotated it among its seven artistic disciplines.
Rollins is the 14th medalist in music composition, but the very first in the field of jazz. He joins a distinguished list of past recipients that includes Leonard Bernstein, Alice Munro, Studs Terkel, I.M. Pei, Merce Cunningham, Wendy Wasserstein, Aaron Copeland and Georgia O’Keeffe.
The medal will be presented in a ceremony to be held on The MacDowell Colony grounds on Sunday, August 15. Jazz writer and critic Gary Giddins, this year’s presentation speaker, will introduce Rollins.
In the announcement of the award, Rollins is quoted saying “I’m proud and pleased to be selected to receive this very special prize. Edward MacDowell’s spirit engaged me many years ago when, as a child, I was inspired by his composition ‘To a Wild Rose.’ Later, I had the opportunity to make it a part of my repertoire, performing it on many occasions and eventually recording it. Somehow I feel I’m getting to meet him again.”