Composer James Matheson '92 Honored with Charles Ives Award

Stacey Kutish
Composer James Matheson '92
James Matheson '92

Composer James Matheson '92 is the recipient of the Academy of Arts and Letters' prestigious Charles Ives Award. This award will provide a $200,000 stipend to support all of Matheson's creative and compositional endeavors for the next two years and is given to promising American composers who boast a strong and fresh musical point of view.

"[His] music never wallows in the sentimental, never panders or takes it easy," says Steven Stucky, a member of the Academy. "It has muscle - both intellectual and kinetic - it has passion, and it has integrity. Matheson takes chances; he doesn't settle for the routine."

For two years, Matheson will forgo salaried employment in order to solely pursue composition. "Two years devoted exclusively to composition is a luxury almost beyond my ability to imagine," he says. "My deepest thanks go to the Academy - and to the ghosts of Charles and Harmony Ives - for making possible this astonishing gift of time."

Matheson's music has been performed by the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the Chicago and Albany Symphony Orchestras, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and Orchestra 2001 (Philadelphia). The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) premiered his Violin Concerto last month, composed expressly for the CSO's principal second violin, Baird Dodge '90, Matheson's former roommate and longtime friend. The piece will have its west coast premiere in March with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

A philosophy and music major at Swarthmore, Matheson is now the Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Composer Fellowship Program. He is also the recipient of several fellowships and awards, including a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship (2008), the Hinrichsen Award (2002) and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2000).