Composer and pianist Courtney Bryan (DMA Composition, 2014) works in multiple genres, both sacred and secular, including jazz and other experimental music, traditional gospel, spirituals, and hymns. Unifying her compositions - solo to orchestral works, choral music and sound installations - is a desire to “communicate the sounds of rebellion and healing.” Improvisation is central to her music, both as concept and method. She collaborates with dancers, visual artists, writers, and actors, with inspiration from what has come before: from John Coltrane and Renaissance madrigals, to Shirley Caesar and Olivier Messiaen. A scholar and professor at Tulane University, Bryan is currently analyzing the sacred works of Alice Coltrane. Committed to spirit and social justice, to shifting power dynamics and, always, to beauty, Bryan creates music imbued with a fierce urgency of the moment.
“My pursuit of uninhibited beauty has led me to unite parts of my practice that were once separate: composition, improvisation, collaboration, genre, spirituality, and social and political concerns.”
The Alpert Award, presented yearly to five artists working in film/video, dance, music, theater and visual art, provides $75,000 of unrestricted funding.