Composer George Walker, prolific as ever at 95

Posted on: July 12, 2017

“George Walker continues to sustain a creative life in his 90s that is of a very rare order—one reminiscent of Elliott Carter and Henri Dutilleux,” writes Thomas May in the July issue of Strings magazine. “It was at the keyboard that he first formed his musical identity, starting when he was five.… When Walker began studying composition in graduate school at the Curtis Institute, it wasn’t so much an end in itself as it was a secondary activity…. Though he won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1996 for Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra—a magnificent, densely textured setting of the poetry of Walt Whitman—much of Walker’s output remains unjustly neglected….  In his latest large-scale project, the still-unheard Sinfonia No. 5, Walker addresses the 2015 Charleston church massacre by incorporating a brief, poetic text he wrote, which is shared by five narrators. He also weaves in musical references to a spiritual, a hymn, and Americana…. Pierre Ruhe, the Alabama Symphony’s director of artistic administration … believes that Walker’s music will make its breakthrough to wider recognition ‘when a major conductor champions his music and does so consistently.’ In the meantime, Walker continues to follow where his musical instinct takes him.”

Posted July 12, 2017

George Walker photo by Frank Schramm