Mike Keefe, 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning, had his beginnings at UMKC.
Keefe got his start drawing for UMKC’s student newspaper, the University News, but that is not his only affiliation at UMKC. Keefe also served as a math instructor at UMKC, where he accomplished coursework toward his doctorate.
You can now find Keefe at The Denver Post who works as the editorial cartoonist. Keefe has been with The Denver Post since 1975.
The judges commended Keefe for his range in his cartoons and how he uses “loose, expressive style to send strong, witty messages.”
Keefe was astounded by his win.
“I am gobsmacked,” Keefe said. “In recent years, the Pulitzer has gone to much younger folks, who are newer in the business. I thought my day had passed.”
In addition to Keefe, research professor of Music Composition Zhou Long won a Pulitzer Prize for “Madame White Snake.”
The opera made its premiere in the U.S. on Feb. 26, 2010 by Opera Boston at the Cutler Majestic Theatre. However, in October 2010 “Madame White Snake” made its way to China for the Beijing Music Festival.
Through “Madame White Snake,” Long has made an ancient Chinese story accessible to Western culture.
The opera has a strong Western orchestra complemented by equally strong Chinese instruments.
There are three Chinese melodic instruments: a bamboo flute, clay flute and the erhu, a two-stringed violin, as well as Chinese percussion instruments, such as gongs, drums and blocks.
“As a young boy living at the height of the Cultural Revolution, Zhou Long was sent to a state farm where he toiled for five years,” said conservatory dean Peter Witte. “Today, he received one of America’s greatest awards for excellence in the arts. ‘Madame White Snake’ blends colors and cultures together in a very personal way. Like Virgil Thomson, the last KC composer to win a Pulitzer, Zhou Long’s music is honest and of the earth. We look forward to bringing the premiere of ‘Madame White Snake’ to Kansas City very soon.”
Zhou has a list of partners he would like to collaborate with including Kansas City Symphony, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and UMKC to show the opera at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.