WASILLA — Composer Phillip Munger is among 10 Alaskans who received $12,000 Individual Artist Awards for 2012 from the Rasmuson Foundation.

Munger said he will use the Rasmuson fellowship to compose a new orchestral work based on the February 1945 speech given by Tlingit Civil Rights Pioneer Elizabeth Peratrovich.

Munger said he plans to collaborate with Tlingit artist and actress Diane Benson.

“Fortunately, I’ve had Diane Benson encourage me. Now she’s going to be a partner in creation of this homage to Alaska’s first great civil rights icon,” he said. “And I’m honored to be doing this with one of our most outstanding current fighters for women’s, civil and Native rights.”

The Frontiersman featured Munger in March when the Anchorage Youth Symphony performed his composition “The Wild Coast.”

It’s his second Individual Artist Award.

Since beginning nine years ago, the Rasmuson Foundation has provided nearly $1.9 million to 267 practicing Alaska artists as a long-term investment into the arts and culture of Alaska, the vibrancy of its communities and to art itself.

Munger said he has completed 15 new musical compositions from 2007 to 2011.

He said the idea is to create an orchestral work, about 12 to 15 minutes in length, based upon a speech by Peratrovich that led directly to passage of civil rights legislation in the Territory of Alaska.

The work also would include dramatic narration, based upon Benson’s depiction of the speech.

“I have mulled over writing this work since watching Diane Benson portray Peratrovich on stage in late 2006,” Munger said. “Although Benson has encouraged me to write the work many times since, I only now feel ready to tackle the task.”

Contact managing editor Heather A. Resz at 352-2268 or heather.resz@frontiersman.com.

I've been the managing editor of the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman since September 2010. This is my second time working at the Frontiersman. I was the assistant editor here from 1996 to 1998.

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