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Esa-Pekka Salonen wins Nemmers Prize for music composition

Esa-Pekka Salonen wins Nemmers Prize for music composition
Esa-Pekka Salonen, shown conducting at Walt Disney Concert Hall in October, on Monday was named the winner of a $100,000 prize for music composition. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Esa-Pekka Salonen, the former music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, has won the prestigious Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, a biennial award from Northwestern University that honors a contemporary composer's body of work.

Salonen is receiving a $100,000 cash award and will have one of his works performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the 2015-16 season, the university announced Monday.

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The Finnish composer-conductor also will partner with Northwestern's Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music, where he will participate in four residencies on the Northwestern campus in the next two academic years.

Previous winners of the Nemmers prize include Aaron Jay Kernis, John Luther Adams, Kaija Saariaho, Oliver Knussen and John Adams.

Salonen's body of work includes his Violin Concerto, which was nominated this year for a Grammy Award for contemporary classical composition. The concerto and his orchestral work "Nyx" were released on Deutsche Grammophon in 2012.

In addition to serving as conductor laureate of the L.A. Philharmonic, Salonen is the principal conductor and artistic advisor of London's Philharmonia Orchestra.

He served as music director of the L.A. Philharmonic for 17 years starting in 1992.

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