For an average musician, a Pulitzer Prize and three Grammies would normally equal a full, highly successful career. But for the University’s own William Bolcom, a Music prof. since 1977, such awards are only part of a continuously growing list of accomplishments.

Jessica Boullion
More street cred for the University. (Courtesy of William Bolcom)

Yesterday, in Washington, D.C., amid the turmoil of a congressional change-over and the resignation of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush presented Bolcom along with nine others with the National Medal of Arts. Traditionally, 12 medals are awarded each year.

The award is backed by the National Endowment for the Arts, and is the highest award given to a single artist by the government. Meant to recognize artists from all fields, past winners include Robert Duvall, Ray Bradbury and Buddy Guy.

Perhaps his best known work, Bolcom’s interpretation of William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence” and “Songs of Experience,” earned him the aforementioned Grammy hat trick in 2006 in the categories of best choral performance, best classical contemporary composition and best classical album – a resounding victory.

Bolcom told the Detroit Free Press he was “so numb that I haven’t sorted out my feelings yet.”

For Bolcom, the greatest joy stems from such universal appreciation for his music – which from the looks of it doesn’t seem it’ll be letting up anytime soon.

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