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Two Faculty from Stony Brook University Selected 2015 Guggenheim Fellows

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Matthew Barnson and Rowan Ricardo Phillips join the prestigious ranks of more than 80 Guggenheim Fellows emanating from Stony Brook

Two Stony Brook University scholars in the College of Arts and Sciences — Matthew Barnson and Rowan Ricardo Phillips — have been named 2015 Guggenheim Fellows based on “distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for the future.” Guggenheim fellowships are intended for faculty who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.” Barnson and Phillips were selected as part of a diverse group of 175 scholars, artists and scientists on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise. They were chosen from among more than 3,100 applicants.

Barnson, an Assistant Professor of Composition in the Department of Music will use his Guggenheim Fellowship for composing four large new works: pieces for cello and percussion; a work for flute and electronics; a string quartet; and a work for baritone, baroque instruments, percussion, and electronics. Phillips, an Associate Professor and Director of the Poetry Center in the Department of English, will use his Guggenheim Fellowship to write the third book in a trilogy; the first of which is Ground: poems.

“A Guggenheim Fellowship is a most esteemed honor and reflects the highest levels of scholarship and professionalism,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD. “Stony Brook University is very proud to have these outstanding faculty members chosen for this venerated distinction.”

“Professors Barnson and Phillips are well-deserving of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship,” said Dennis N. Assanis, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Stony Brook University. “SBU is proud of these two distinguished faculty members, who have demonstrated that they are among the best in North America within their respective fields as evidenced by their receipt of this honor.”

About Matthew Barnson

Matthew Barnson
Matthew Barnson

Awarded a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship in the category of Music Competition, Matthew Barnson’s music has been described as an attempt to negotiate between classical forms and European and American avant-gardes, and between noise and pure tone. He juxtaposes these extremes to create a challenging musical language that is viscerally expressive and dramatically structured, using pulsing rhythmic energy to create music that veers between extremes of fragility and violence. More than any over-determining system, his work is governed by the physicality of the instruments and voices, and many works are marked by the gradual introduction of different playing techniques: glassy harmonics, skittish string-crossings, snap pizzicato, and climaxes of brutal sawing that often resolve to uneasy calm.

Barnson has composed for orchestras, choirs, string quartets, voices, chamber ensembles, dancers, and computers. Recently, his music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, the Centre Pompidou, the Museum of Modern Art, the Kennedy Center, the Aldeburgh Festival, the Royal Academy of Music, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, ISCM World Music Days, MATA, Wigmore Hall, Aspen, the San Francisco War Memorial, and other venues throughout the United States and Europe.

His work has been recognized with awards and commissions from the Barlow Endowment, Aaron Copland House, NewMusicUSA, Jerome Foundation, Yale University and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Barnson studied at the Eastman School of Music, the University of Pennsylvania, the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (IRCAM) and Yale with Christopher Rouse, Joseph Schwantner, Steven Stucky, Augusta Read Thomas, Martin Bresnick, Ezra Laderman, Ingram Marshall, David Lang and, briefly at Acanthes, with Wolfgang Rihm.

About Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Awarded a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship in the category of Poetry, Phillips is using his award to complete a trilogy started with The Ground: poems, followed by Heaven, poems to be published in June. The Ground won numerous awards including a 2013 Whiting Writers Award, the 2013 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry and the 2013 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writer Award in Poetry; it was also a finalist for the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry and a finalist for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry.

Phillips’ work has appeared in in major magazines such as The New Yorker, The Paris Review and Poetry among others. He is also the author of a book of literary criticism, When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness (Dalkey Archive Press, 2010), and the first English translation of Salvador Espriu’s classic Catalan collection of short stories, Ariadne in the Grotesque Labyrinth (Dalkey Archive Press, 2012).

Born and raised in New York City, Phillips is a graduate of Swarthmore College with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Brown University, where he attained his doctorate in English Literature. He has taught at Harvard, Columbia, and Princeton and is a Fellow with the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU. Since 2002 he has been a faculty member of Stony Brook’s English Department where he has been teaching courses at the undergraduate and graduate level on poetry, creative writing, and African American literature.

“It’s exciting to name 175 new Guggenheim Fellows,” Edward Hirsch, president of the Foundation, said of the new Guggenheim Fellows. “These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best. Since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has always bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue the tradition with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”

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