Melinda Wagner’s esteemed catalog of works embodies music of exceptional beauty, power, and intelligence. She received widespread attention when her colorful Concerto for Flute, Strings, and Percussion earned her the Pulitzer Prize in 1999. Since then, her major works have included Concerto for Trombone, for Joseph Alessi and the New York Philharmonic; a piano concerto, Extremity of Sky, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony for Emanuel Ax; and Little Moonhead, commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra as part of its New Brandenburgs series. Mr. Ax has also performed Extremity of Sky with the National Symphony Orchestra (on tour), Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony, and the Staatskapelle Berlin.
Championed early on by Daniel Barenboim, Ms. Wagner has received three commissions from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO); the most recent of these, Proceed, Moon, was premiered by the CSO under the baton of Susanna Mälkki in 2017. Other recent performances have included the American Composers Orchestra, United States Marine Band, Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), American Brass Quintet, and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.
Among the honors Ms. Wagner has received is a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the 2018 ASCAP Masters Award. She was given an honorary doctorate from Hamilton College, and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and serves on the Board of the American Composers Orchestra.
A passionate and inspiring teacher, Melinda Wagner has given master classes at many fine institutions across the United States. She currently serves as chair of the Composition Department at Juilliard, and is a distinguished composer-in-residence at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.