Shulamit Ran, a native of Israel, began setting Hebrew poetry to music at the age of seven. By nine she was studying composition and piano with some of Israel ‘s most noted musicians, including composers Alexander Boskovich and Paul Ben-Haim, and within a few years she was having her works performed by professional musicians and orchestras. As the recipient of scholarships from both the Mannes College of Music in New York and the America Israel Cultural Foundation, Ran continued her composition studies in the United States with Norman Dello-Joio. In 1973 she joined the faculty of the University of Chicago , where she is now the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Music. She lists her late colleague and friend Ralph Shapey, with whom she also studied in 1977, as an important mentor.
Ran has been awarded most major honors given to composers in the United States, and her numerous prizes, fellowships and commissions include those from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund, the Ford Foundation, three commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, two fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Fromm Music Foundation, WFMT, Chamber Music America, the American Composers Orchestra, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Baltimore Symphony, the National Flute Association, and the Koussevitzky Foundation at the Library of Congress. Her Symphony earned both the 1991 Pulitzer Prize and the first place 1992 Kennedy Center Friedheim Award.
Performances of Ran’s music have been given by the New York Philharmonic on a Young People’s Concert, the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta and Gustavo Dudamel, the Chicago Symphony under both Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez, the Philadelphia Orchestra under Gary Bertini, the Cleveland Orchestra under Christoph Von Dohnanyi in two U.S. tours, the National Symphony in Washington D.C., the Baltimore Symphony, the Orchestra of Saint Luke’s under Lord Yehudi Menuhin, the Louisville Orchestra, the Jerusalem Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Da Capo Chamber Players, New York New Music Ensemble, Twentieth Century Consort, string quartets including the Avalon, Brentano, Cassatt, Lark, Mendelssohn, Penderecki, and Taneyev quartets, Peabody Trio, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and at festivals including Tanglewood, Aspen, Santa Fe and Yellow Barn, among others. Her works are recorded on more than a dozen labels including Albany , Angel, Bridge, CRI, Erato, Koch International Classics, New World, and Warner Classics.
In 1990 Ran was appointed by Daniel Barenboim to be Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as part of the Meet the Composer Orchestra Residencies Program, a position she held for seven seasons. From 1994 to 1997 she also served as the fifth Brena and Lee Freeman Sr. Composer-in-Residence with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Ran was Visiting Professor at Princeton University in 1987, and is an elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1992 and the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 2003.