Aspen Music Festival student wins decorated Hermitage Prize

Composition student at the Aspen Music Festival and School, Sofía Rocha, wins Hermitage prize.

Staff report
2022 Aspen Music Festival (left to right) Robert Spano, music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School and the Atlanta Symphony and former member of the Hermitage Curatorial Council; Andy Sandberg, artistic director and CEO of the Hermitage Artist Retreat; Sofía Rocha, winner of the 2022 Hermitage Prize in Composition; Alan Fletcher, AMFS president and CEO; Nico Muhly, Hermitage fellow and composer; and Christopher Theofanidis, Hermitage fellow and AMFS faculty.
Courtesy The Hermitage Artist Retreat

Sofía Rocha, a composition student at the Aspen Music Festival and School, earned the 2022 Hermitage Prize in Composition this past weekend at the Hermitage Artist Retreat in Florida.

She is the ninth recipient of the annual award, which includes a residency at the Hermitage, along with a $1,000 cash stipend. Rocha was selected by a jury that included Robert Spano, music director of the AMFS and the Atlanta Symphony and a past member of the Hermitage Curatorial Council; Alan Fletcher, AMFS president and CEO; and the composition faculty of the AMFS, including Hermitage Fellow Christopher Theofanidis.

This initiative, launched in 2013 and now celebrating its 10th year, reflects a partnership between AMFS and the Hermitage to champion new and original works and to recognize exceptional talent in the field of contemporary classical music.

The idea for the prize came when Robert Spano was in residence at the Hermitage and shared with his colleagues in Aspen how beneficial the retreat had been for him and his work. The Hermitage Prize in Composition was created to offer the same experience to young, talented composers beginning their professional careers.

 “It was thrilling to hear the original works performed by these gifted young composers as they were workshopped and performed with the full AMFS student orchestra in the festival’s premiere venue,” Sandberg said. “This provides the recipient of the annual Hermitage Prize in Composition the opportunity to share this unmatched Hermitage experience with leading artists from all around the world.”

Hermitage Fellows have included 15 Pulitzer Prize winners; multiple Grammy, Oscar, Emmy and Tony winners; poets laureate; MacArthur “genius” fellows and others.

“I want to offer thanks to all the jurors for the 2022 Hermitage Prize. I am extremely grateful and excited to have this opportunity, especially at this early stage in my career, to meet and interact with artists across fields and disciplines who all create incredible work,” Rocha said “The benefits of being in such a place are innumerable, and I am eagerly anticipating the time that I will spend and the work I will create at the Hermitage.”

Rocha originally is from Boulder and grew up in Naples, Florida. She writes for all manner of performing forces: instrumental, vocal and electronic. Recent and upcoming projects include newly commissioned works for the 2022 Aspen Music Festival as a composition fellow, the International Contemporary Ensemble and the Fifth House Ensemble as a Fromm Foundation Fellow at the 2020 Fresh Inc. Festival.

Her first orchestral work, “Replier,” was chosen as the winner of the 2020 New England Philharmonic annual call for scores and premiered in May. She has also received honors from ASCAP, OM/NI Composition Competition and Tenebrae New Music Ensemble. Rocha is also a trombonist and conductor, having performed with numerous symphony orchestras, wind ensembles and jazz groups.

To learn more about the Aspen Music Festival and School and the current schedule of programming, visit To learn more about the Hermitage and its upcoming programs or to support this organization in its mission to champion artists and the creative process, visit