Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

“ ‘I’m bowled over right now,’ the polymathic musician Rhiannon Giddens said … shortly after winning the Pulitzer Prize for music,” writes Joshua Barone in Monday’s (5/8) New York Times. ‘She was speaking in a phone interview with the composer Michael Abels … Together, they wrote the Pulitzer-winner, ‘Omar,’ an opera about Omar Ibn Said, a Muslim scholar who was captured in Africa in the early 1800s and sold into slavery in Charleston, S.C. It was there that the work premiered last May, at Spoleto Festival USA. Giddens wrote the libretto based on Said’s autobiography, and recorded self-accompanied demos that Abels then responded to with a fleshed-out score. The result was a multigenre, multicultural swirl—a tour through the sound worlds of Islam, bluegrass, spirituals and more … Abels has written for concert halls and films, including the ‘Get Out’ soundtrack. Giddens is most famous as a folk musician but trained as a classical singer and has dipped her toes into opera in recent years … ‘Nobody has the lock on being a composer,’ she said. ‘We’ve got to stop with separation and who gets to be called a composer.’ ” Finalists for music were Monochromatic Light (Afterlife) by Tyshawn Sorey and Perspective by Jerrilynn Patton. Read Symphony magazine’s 2019 article written by Giddens.