Drawing inspiration from the folk, classical and rock genres, Julia Wolfe's music is distinguished by an intense physicality and relentless power that push performers to extremes and demand attention from the audience. A finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for her evening-length Steel Hammer, written for the Bang on a Can All-Stars and Trio Mediaeval, Wolfe's music brings a modern sensibility to each genre while simultaneously tearing down the walls between them. Her music has been heard at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, Settembre Musica (Italy), Theatre de la Ville (Paris), Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, and has been recorded on Cantaloupe, Teldec, Point/Universal, Sony Classical and Argo/Decca. Wolfe has been a recipient of numerous grants, including awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Art, and a Fulbright to The Netherlands. Wolfe joined the New York University Steinhardt School's composition faculty in 2009.
Wolfe is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York's legendary music collective Bang on a Can. Gordon joined fellow Bang on a Can founders Michael Gordon and David Lang for a symposium at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in June 2009. The three composers spoke about their work as composers, impresarios, and entrepreneurs, and shared recorded examples of their music. Together, they also curated the first Philadelphia iteration of the Bang on a Can marathon, funded by the Center and presented by FringeArts in September 2010. Wolfe has also written a new 45-minute, multi-movement, hybrid choral work, Anthracite Fields, commissioned by the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia with support from the Center. Premiered in April 2014, the new work draws inspiration from Anglo-American folk music and stories around coal mining communities in Pennsylvania, Wolfe's home state. Wolfe has researched folk stories, traditional mining songs, and personal tales from the chorus and community at large, involving audiences directly in the creation of the work.