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Oak Ridge Native Ellen Reid Wins The Pulitzer Prize In Music

James Matthew Daniel

Ellen Reid has won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in music for her debut opera, p r i s m. The work tackles the difficult subject matter of sexual and emotional abuse. Reid and librettist, Roxie Perkins, began composing the piece several years ago, before the #MeToo movement. Ellen says that she watched her piece take on a larger, more global meaning, as the perspective and understanding of sexual assault changed. Commissioned and co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects, p r i s m premiered on November 29th at the Los Angeles Opera's Off Grand series.

The 36-year-old composer was born and raised in Oak Ridge, TN and was exposed to music at a young age, although she modestly jokes that she was "never any good." It was the encouragement of a musicology professor at Columbia University who gave Ellen the idea and courage to pursue the path of composing. 

Still in shock over winning the award, Reid says that she is thrilled and excited about what the future may have in store for her, as well as for her mentorship program for young female and gender non-conforming composers, Luna Composition Lab. She is currently composer-in-residence with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and has been commissioned by the New York Philharmonic for the 2019-2020 season.




Melony calls the beautiful mountains of Boone, N.C., home, although she was born near Greensboro, N.C. There’s just something about those Blue Ridge Mountains that got in her blood and never left after she moved there to attend Appalachian State University (ASU). While at ASU, she majored in piano performance and music therapy and began to cultivate a love for accompanying and for collaborating with other musicians. This soon led her to earn a master’s degree in collaborative piano at the University of Tennessee, which she attended from 2006-2008.
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