Douglas Buchanan, a Texas-born, Baltimore-based composer and conductor, has received the $25,000 Sackler Prize for Music Composition from the University of Connecticut.
The award will provide support for Buchanan and librettist Caitlin Vincent, who are writing a one-hour opera about Bessie Coleman, the first female African-American aviator, and Ma Ferguson, the first female governor of Texas. "Bessie and Ma" is set for a premiere in 2019.
Buchanan, a prolific composer with a richly layered style, studied with Michael Hersch and the late Nicholas Maw, among others. He also serves as director of music ministries at St. David's Church in Roland Park; artistic director of the Maryland Choral Society; and founding director of Voices Rise: A Baltimore Choir of Hope, which provides an outlet for the homeless and others in need.
In other prize news, Richmond-based artist Torrance Hall will enter the Maryland Institute College of Art shortly as a freshman. Hall already has an impressive achievement to his credit: Earlier this summer, the 17-year-old received a $10,000 Max Mara Young Visionary Award for an emerging artist, chosen out of 12,000 applicants and 170 finalists.
Hall's striking, often surreal photographs, many of them self-portraits, were the subject of an exhibit in Toronto in June, presented by Max Mara.