Staff Writer, Voice & Viewpoint
He just won the Pulitzer Prize for his opera about “The Central Park Five.” They were one latino and four black teens, tried and convicted and later exonerated and freed in the 1989 rape of a white female in Central Park. But the work that Davis did in setting that story to music was a continuation of his focusing on historical people and events which he has done since 1986 with the New York City Opera performing his first major work, “The Life and Times of Malcolm X.”
Davis, who at 69 has taught at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) since 1998, says he has spent his career creating political works. He hopes that his success will encourage others to speak their minds in the expression of their works.
Davis has more than 15 non-opera solar albums to his credit. He established himself as a composer and band leader before focusing on opera in the 1980s. The third UC San Diego faculty member to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize, he is working on new operas about the 1921 Tulsa race massacre in Oklahoma and the 2015 shooting of nine churchgoers in Charleston, S.C. He resides in University City with his opera-singer wife, Cynthia, and their grown son, Jonah, a professional baseball player.