HKBU Music scholar receives distinguished Guggenheim Fellowship

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Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) Department of Music Research Assistant Professor Dr Eugene Birman has been named a recipient of one of the world’s most prestigious academic prizes, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, for 2018. Dr Birman is among the youngest in the Fellowship’s history and is the only scholar from Hong Kong in recent years.

Created in 1925, the Guggenheim Fellowships (https://www.gf.org/), offered by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in USA, are awarded to those who have made impressive accomplishments in their respective fields and exhibit exceptional promise for the future. The Foundation receives nearly 3,000 applications each year. Many Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners are Guggenheim Fellowship recipients.

A distinguished composer, Dr Birman’s work has been performed on four continents and by many of the world’s leading orchestras, ensembles, and soloists, counting among them such names as the London Philharmonic, the violin virtuoso Maxim Vengerov, and the BBC Singers. His highly public career in music, with appearances on CNN, BBC World TV, Radio France, and others, is characterised by a fearless focus on socially relevant large-scale compositions covering the financial crisis, the environment, and more.

“I’m honoured not only by the faith placed in me by the Guggenheim Foundation to create what I consider a breakthrough piece in my career, but also by HKBU, my home institution, for giving me the ideal environment to think, to teach, and to create,” Dr Birman said. “Particularly with a controversial project like this, I feel empowered in many ways to continue down this path of creating music that challenges, compels discussion, and seeks real answers through this universal language.” Being awarded the 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship will allow him to focus on a new commission for a leading British vocal ensemble on the topic of fake news and Russian foreign policy, in partnership with librettist Scott Diel.

A Fulbright scholar and DPhil recipient from the University of Oxford in the UK, Dr Birman also holds degrees from Columbia University, the Juilliard School in USA, and the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Italy.