Music Academy of the West Announces Appointment of Tracy K. Smith to National Advisory Council
Santa Barbara, CA — As a pioneer of thought leadership in music and its role in the arts and society, Music Academy of the West is thrilled to announce the appointment of Tracy K. Smith to its National Advisory Council. A Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, educator, and former two-term U.S. Poet Laureate, Tracy joins current advisors Marcy Carsey, Jeremy Geffen, Gregg Gleasner, Ara Guzelimian, Mark Newbanks, and Chad Smith.
Tracy K. Smith’s fervent belief in the power of art and education to connect people, tackle pressing issues, and change lives aligns closely with the Academy’s commitment to community access and transformative education. Given her longstanding focus on connecting people from disparate backgrounds through poetry – a central theme of her platform as Poet Laureate – she is especially well-suited to advising Music Academy President and CEO Scott Reed. In her new role, she will also join other National Advisory Council members in assisting to review applications for the annual Alumni Enterprise Awards, which confer annual grants to support innovation in areas including artistic expression, audience development, education, community engagement, social justice, and technology.
I’m delighted to bring my perspective as an artist and chair of a university arts center into conversation with the Music Academy of the West. I believe the arts—which foster clarity, courage, community and empathy—have a special role to play in tending to the collective needs alive in our nation.
— Tracy K. Smith
It’s an honor to welcome Tracy as an official member of the Music Academy family. Her perspective as a writer and educator who collaborates with musicians will ignite creative thinking. She will inspire and challenge our community to connect in meaningful ways, as well as to reach new heights in cross-disciplinary arts.
— Scott Reed, President and CEO
Tracy K. Smith’s adaptation of Friedrich Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy was premiered as part of Carnegie Hall’s yearlong project All Together: A Global Ode to Joy, and in 2022 her libretto for Gregory Spears’s opera Castor and Patience is set to premiere at Cincinnati Opera. As The Atlantic writes, Tracy “offers a blueprint for how Americans can better listen to the country’s long-buried voices, and to its voices on the margins now.”
Tracy K. Smith’s affiliation with Music Academy of the West dates back to 2015, when the Academy joined forces with Town Hall Seattle to commission composer, cellist, and 2002 alumnus Joshua Roman to set poems from Tracy’s Life on Mars in a song cycle for vocalist and chamber ensemble. Featuring performances by soprano Jessica Rivera, a 2001 alumna, and faculty artist Conor Hanick, the work was filmed for Second Inversion with support from New Music USA. Last summer, Tracy joined the Academy as an Innovation Speaker at the Music Academy Remote Learning Institute (MARLI), where she gave a livestreamed talk to Academy fellows and an online audience about the relationship between art and social justice.
About Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith is an award-winning poet, memoirist, translator, editor, and librettist who served as the twenty-second Poet Laureate of the United States from 2017-2019. Her four books of poetry include Wade in the Water, winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award; Life on Mars, which won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; Duende, which was awarded the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets; and The Body’s Question, which received won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Her memoir, Ordinary Light, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Tracy translated (with Changtai Bi) My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree: Selected Poems of Yi Lei. Currently a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, she is the Roger S. Berlind ‘52 Professor in the Humanities and chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University.
About the National Advisory Council
The National Advisory Council is designed to help promote the Music Academy nationally and internationally, broaden its support base, and bring forth new ideas and fresh viewpoints. Convening annually, the Council advises President and CEO Scott Reed and assists in reviewing applications for the annual Alumni Enterprise Awards. Since the awards’ establishment in 2018, 26 alumni have received a total of $320,000 to support their projects; learn more about the 2021 laureates here.
About Music Academy of the West
For more information, visit musicacademy.org.
photo: Rachel Eliza Griffith, courtesy of Blue Flower Arts
Released: March 8, 2021
Director of Marketing and Communications
Music Academy of the West