Endowed Fellowships: Anna Weesner

As the recipient of the 2007 VCCA Award for Excellence in the Arts, Philadelphia based composer and educator Anna Weesner received a month-long residency and used the valuable time to meet an impending deadline. Established in 2003 and rotating through three disciplines, the award is presented annually to a prominent writer, visual artist or composer whose significant achievement in the arts is widely recognized. Administered by the Fellows Council, the award is endowed by a treasured friend of the VCCA.

“This residency was especially well-timed, enabling me to finish a new piece for string quartet that was performed in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in Au­gust,” says Anna, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

The pressure of having to meet her deadline was softened by knowing that each day at the VCCA she had daily access to a safe haven–the studio–and the quietude she needed to work.

“I can’t say enough about how meaningful it was to step into my studio every day,” says Anna, the mother of two small boys. “There is a sense of space and time, a wonderful access to quiet. It was like stepping into a habit of concentra­tion and continuity, a habit I know from working in the past, but which has been harder to come by in recent years with teaching, kids and so on. At the VCCA it was as if I had a very quick and natural access to that daily habit of concentra­tion.”

Winning the award, says Anna, was a psychic boost, a kind of offering of gen­eral support from a community that cares deeply about artistry and creativity.

Now that her residency has ended, Anna hopes to replicate the VCCA feel­ing in her home studio.

Anna’s work has been widely commissioned and performed. Her orchestral music has been selected for reading sessions by the Indianapolis Symphony, the American Composers Orchestra, for their Whitaker Reading Sessions, and the Women’s Philharmonic of San Francisco. She is the recipient of a 2003 Pew Fellowship in the Arts and a 2002 Bunting Fellowship.