Matthew Recio and Christopher LaRosa winners of 2016 NOTUS Student Composition Contest

Matthew Recio

Matthew Recio

Matthew Recio and Christopher LaRosa have been named the first- and second-prize winners, respectively, of this year’s NOTUS Student Composition Contest.

Recio’s first-prize work is “How to Survive Vesuvius” for mixed chorus a cappella. A second-year graduate student, he is pursuing a Master of Music degree in composition at the Jacobs School, where his principal teachers have been Don Freund and Sven-David Sandström. He is a member of NOTUS and will sing in the premiere of his work during the March 2016 concert.

Recio says of his work, “I wanted to write a piece that would combine rhythm, melody and harmony in a way that would sparkle with energy. With this as a starting point, I asked my friend Jenna Lanzaro to write me the text for this work. . . . Having been to Pompeii, I have seen the remains of people frozen in their natural state with the exact facial expressions of when the eruption occurred. . . . I wanted the opening motive to represent lava gradually enveloping this person’s world around them.”

LaRosa’s second-prize work is “Breath” for mixed chorus a cappella. A graduate student pursuing his Doctor of Music degree in composition at the Jacobs School, he currently studies with P. Q. Phan.

Christopher LaRosa

Christopher LaRosa

LaRosa says of his work, “The text of ‘Breath’ comes from Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘The Sonnets to Orpheus,’ a cycle of 55 poems divided into two series. Originally in German, I chose to translate the poem to English. In the poem, Rilke vividly personifies breath. Despite its invisibility, breath carries our most important ideas and intimate words. Much of the air around us has at one time been inside us—a sea of breaths surround us.”

NOTUS will premiere both of these prize-winning works on the concert program “Electric Resonances” on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at 8 p.m. in Auer Hall.

The concert will also feature three other pieces: a world-premiere performance of “The Giver of Stars” by Sven-David Sandström; Arvo Pärt’s groundbreaking “Te Deum” for three choirs, string ensemble, prepared piano and tape; and a new piece by sophomore composition major Alex Berko, whose work “Forgiven Tears” has been named the winner of the Raymond Brock Memorial Student Composition Prize, given annually to one composer nationally by the American Choral Directors Association.

NOTUS will also perform Sandström and Berko’s works at the ACDA Central Division Conference in Chicago this coming February.

The judges awarded two honorable mentions for Nicolas Chuaqui’s “Infinity” and Felipe Tovar-Henao’s “Oh, misteriosa alma mía.”

The contest is an initiative of Dominick DiOrio, assistant professor of music in the Choral Conducting Department and conductor of NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. The annual competition is open to all current undergraduate and graduate students at the Jacobs School of Music.

Judges for the competition included John Gibson, associate professor of composition (electronic and computer music), and Betsy Burleigh, chair of Choral Conducting and associate professor of music. DiOrio did not take part in the judging panel. The submission of scores was anonymous, and the judges did not see names or identifying information until after final decisions were made.

Composer and performer in various mediums, Recio’s (b. 1991) evocative compositions generate a vivid imagistic experience for listeners. He is a summa cum laude graduate and Charles F. Hockett scholar of Ithaca College, where he earned a B.M. in composition and music education. While at Ithaca, he was awarded the Smadbeck Dean’s composition prize for three consecutive years as well as the ACDA choral composition prize. His work has recently been selected for performance at the Midwest Composer Symposium (2014-15), the UNK New Music Festival, Hammer and Nail Contemporary Dance Collaboration, and the New Voices Opera Exhibition. He is the winner of the 2015 IMTA Opus young artist composition competition of Indiana, where he was recognized last October at the state festival for his work.

He is the recent winner of the 2015 Quartet Nouveau (resident ensemble of the California Chamber Orchestra) composition competition and will have his work “Clutch of Venus” performed in San Diego this spring. His choral work “How to Survive Vesuvius” will be showcased at the 2016 ACDA convention in Boston this February in a master class with Pulitzer Prize-winner Steven Stucky. Recio is one of three finalists in Michael Kerschner’s Young New Yorker’s Choral composition competition and will have a new work premiered with the ensemble June of 2016. In the past, he has been chosen to participate in the Atlantic Music Festival as well as being selected as an emerging composer for the IMANI Winds chamber festival in New York City. Last summer, he was a composition fellow at the Valencia International Performing Arts program of Spain, where his clarinet piece “Sea Calls” was performed by Ausiás Morant (bass clarinetist of the BBC Orchestra). His principal teachers include Dana Wilson, Eric Ewazen, Don Freund and Sven-David Sandström.

LaRosa’s (b. 1990) music dramatically integrates melodic lyricism, rhythmic vitality, harmonic color and timbral shadings. His oeuvre displays a fascination for temporal perception, human aggression and compassion, and natural phenomena. His music has been described as “deftly crafted” by the Boston Classical Review and “charismatic, well scored and positively received” by the Hartford Courant. He has received performances throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada and Austria by ensembles such as the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, CEPROMUSIC, Boston New Music Initiative, and Genesis Chamber Singers.

In 2015, LaRosa won the Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s commissioning competition. His “Sextet” won the CEPROMUSIC/BU Composition Competition in 2014. His “Symmetries” for two string quartets won the Frank Robert Abell Prize for Chamber Music and the Louis Smadbeck prize in 2012, and his dramatic song cycle “Vignettes of Two Lovers” was selected for the Boston Metro Opera’s 3rd Annual Contemporary Americana Festival. His flute preludes, “Mythologies,” won second place for the Louis Smadbeck prize in 2011, and, in 2010, his song cycle “Spring Giddiness” won the Jack Downey Prize and was selected by the Boston Metro Opera’s 2nd Annual Contemporary Americana Festival.

LaRosa grew up in Downingtown, Pa. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree at Ithaca College and his Master of Music degree at Boston University. During the 2012-13 academic year, he served as the composition instructor and student assistant at IES Abroad in Vienna. He has studied with Dana Wilson, John Wallace and P. Q. Phan.


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David Dzubay awarded Fromm commission

Dzubay_DavidProfessor of Composition David Dzubay is one of 14 composers to recently receive a 2015 Fromm commission. He will use the award to compose String Quartet No. 2 for the Pacifica Quartet, most likely premiering in 2017.

The commissions represent one of the principal ways that the Fromm Music Foundation seeks to strengthen composition and to bring contemporary concert music closer to the public. In addition to the commissioning fee, a subsidy is available for the ensemble performing the premiere of the commissioned work.

Founded by the patron of contemporary music, the late Paul Fromm, the Fromm Foundation is now in its sixtieth year, having been located at Harvard University for the past 40.

Since the 1950s, it has commissioned well over 300 new compositions and their performances, and has sponsored hundreds of new music concerts and concert series.

“I want to know you,” Igor Stravinsky once said to Fromm, “because contemporary music has many friends but only a few lovers.”





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Jacobs composers at 2015 SCI National Conference

Freund.smallerDon Freund, professor of composition, was the featured guest composer at the Florida Contemporary Music Festival and the University of Florida (UF) School of Music hosting of the Society of Composers, Inc. 50th Anniversary National Conference November 12-14.

Included on the program were performances of his “Fanfare of Celebration and Commemoration” for six trumpets, “Jug Blues and Fat Pickin’” (Symphonic Band), “O Fortuna” (Women’s Chorus), “Jubilate Deo” (chorus and organ), and “Hard Cells” (UF Symphony Orchestra). Freund performed on the Casio in his “Passages” for alto saxophone, horn, and Casio CZ101.

Jacobs School composition alumni having works at the festival were David Heuser, Christopher Cook, Sam Wells, Texu Kim, and Jason Bahr. Jacobs piano alumna Mary Hellman was a “Special Artist,” performing several works by conference composers, including Christopher Cook’s “Rocket” for piano and electronics.

Kim was represented by the commissioned work he won as winner of the SCI/ASCAP student competition. Eric Fegan, a current master’s student, also won an SCI/ASCAP commission. Both Kim’s and Fegan’s works were premiered by the Red Clay Saxophone Quartet (which includes Jacobs alumnus Steve Stusek).


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Concerts to feature composers from four universities

By Brooke McAfee

Musicians from four universities in the Midwest will collaborate in two days of concerts to present the work of student composers at the Midwest Composer’s Symposium, presented by the Jacobs School of Music.

“The whole idea is to make a connection, to share the composing experience and to make the Midwest area become a unity,” IU professor of composition P.Q. Phan said.

The event features performers and composers from IU, University of Cincinnati, University of Iowa and University of Michigan. The concerts are at 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. 
Saturday in Auer Hall.

The Midwest Composer’s Symposium began in 1948, and the host school rotates each year.

The event includes performances by the New Music Ensemble, the Brass Choir, NOTUS: Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, the Wind Ensemble, the Percussion Ensemble and the Chamber Orchestra.

David Dzubay, director of the New Music Ensemble and chair of the composition department, said he is excited the performers, composers and faculty work together.

“It’s a terrific chance for students and faculty to get together and for student composers and performers to make new friends,” Dzubay said.

Phan, an organizer of the symposium, said it is helpful for student composers. The compositions are usually 
premiered at the event.

“This is a luxurious opportunity in a way, because when a student writes for an orchestra the student can’t necessarily get an ensemble to play it for them,” Phan said.

Not only does the event demonstrate the different styles of each university, but it also has a variety of students from the music school, including undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students, Phan said.

Although the Midwest Composer’s Symposium features performances from each university, it is not a competition, Phan said.

“What I’m looking forward to the most is to hear what artists from other schools can offer,” Phan said. “We encourage each other to know each other as friends and learn from each other.”

The collaboration allows for the students and faculty to have a fresh viewpoint and to compare and contrast, Phan said, so they can understand what they can and
cannot do yet.

The symposium also allows musicians to improve by performing new music, Phan said.

“They learn how to dissect a new piece better,” Phan said. “For performers, when they play a traditional composition, they tend to replicate it by ear, but with a new piece, it’s like, ‘Hey, I’ve never heard this thing before.’”

Phan said the participation of so many large ensembles is one of the most incredible things about IU, because each ensemble wants the university to be a good host and represent what the music school can do.

“It’s so important, not only because of its history, but because of its possibility to make a wonderful relationship among universities in the same area,” Phan said. “It’s so important because it’s the only time that our students can get a peek of what other universities are doing.”

© Indiana Daily Student 2015

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Doctoral student Phillip Sink wins 2015 Hermitage Prize

Phillip Sink (left) with Bruce Rodgers, executive director of the Hermitage.

Phillip Sink (left) with Bruce Rodgers, executive director of the Hermitage.

The Hermitage Artist Retreat continued its partnership with the Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) in Aspen, Colo., and awarded this year’s Hermitage Prize to up-and-coming composer Phillip Sink during the festival’s composers’ showcase.

First awarded in 2013, the prize is given to a promising composer who is enrolled as a composition student at the AMFS. Selected by a jury of contemporary composers and administration at the AMFS, Sink will receive a six-week residency at the Hermitage’s campus in Englewood, Fla., as well as a $1,000 prize.

Read the news release.

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David Dzubay wins 2015 Sackler Composition Prize

Dzubay_DavidProfessor David Dzubay, chair of the Composition Department, has been named the recipient of the 11th Raymond and Beverly Sackler Music Composition Prize presented by the University of Connecticut (UConn), a $25,000 award to compose a new work for a specific area of musical arts that will be performed by UConn students and faculty and recorded.

Read the news release.

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Works by three Jacobs students presented at SONiC Festival

Works by Melody Eotvos, Jeremy Podgursky, and Texu Kim–all Jacobs  grad students in composition–will be presented at the SONiC Festival in New York City October 15-23, 2015. The festival, produced by the American Composers Orchestra, features twenty-first century music by more than 60 composers age 40 and under.

In addition, Kim has been commissioned to write a new piece for the National Orchestra of Korea, which features traditional Korean instruments, for the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of its founding.

Kim was recently composer-in-residence for the Korean Symphony Orchestra.

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Wallinga, Ko (MM ’12), and Grafe (BM ’11) Win 2015 BMI Student Composer Awards

Current student, Patricia Wallinga, and alumni Tonia Ko (MM, 2012) and Max Grafe (BM, 2011) have been named winners in the 63rd annual BMI Student Composer Awards, a competition open to young classical composers throughout the Western Hemisphere. Renowned American composer and permanent Chair of the Student Composer Awards, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, BMI President and CEO and Honorary Chair of the BMI Foundation Mike O’Neill, and BMI Foundation President Deirdre Chadwick, announced the decisions of the jury and presented the awards at a private ceremony held on May 18, 2015, at the J. W. Marriott Essex House Hotel in New York City.

In addition, Max Grafe was named a co-winner of the William Schuman Prize for best score.

Read more…
Above: Pictured are the 2015 BMI Student Composer Award winners: (Front, L-R) Avik Sarkar (Carlos Surinach Prize), Tonia Ko, Joseph Meland, Benjamin P. Wenzelberg; (Back, L-R) Patricia Wallinga, Matthew Aaron Browne, Daniel Silliman (William Schuman Prize), Max Michael Grafe (William Schuman Prize), and Thomas Kotcheff. Photo by Melissa Dispenza

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Festival featuring New Music and Art from Australia

Prof. David Ward-Steinman with the assistance of Alumna Melody Eötvös (DM ’14) will be presenting a mini-Australian Music Festival at the Jacobs School
of Music on the 25th & 26th March 2015.  Guest Artists include pianist
Bernadette Harvey from Sydney, and Composer-Clarinetist-Visual Artist Dr. Brigid
Burke from Melbourne, Australia.

The main event, a chamber
music concert, will take place on the 25th March at 8pm in Auer Hall
highlighting Burke and Harvey, with additional performances by David
Ward-Steinman.  An IU student percussion quartet will also be presenting Nigel
Westlake’s Omphalo Centric Lecture.  The concert location will also feature
indigenous and modern Australian Art from the collection of David and Patrice

On Thursday afternoon, 26th March, at 4pm in Ford
Hall Brigid Burke will also present a lecture on performance processes through
the composition/improvisation of interactive works and exploring cross art forms
in live performance through a strategy of layering to represent complexity of
images we see and sounds we hear.

For more information and updates on these events visit

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Video game music composition guru Chance Thomas at Jacobs School of Music Feb. 16

Thomas_Chance.2015SP.webcal.RAW“Composing music for video games is one of the top-10 fastest growing jobs in America.” (USA TODAY, Geekwire)

That’s music to the ears of composition students. But only those who speak its singularly sophisticated scoring language will earn the opportunity to compete for these jobs.

For interested students and members of the public alike, the IU Jacobs School of Music is opening the door to opportunity at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 16, in Sweeney Hall. The Jacobs School’s Center for Electronic and Computer Music in collaboration with the IU Media School is hosting blockbuster video game composer, educator, and entrepreneur Chance Thomas for a one-night only event, “Composing Music for Games: The Art, Tech, and Commerce of Video Game Scoring.”

This special free guest lecture will offer students an extraordinary opportunity to learn vital music design principles, revolutionary adaptive scoring techniques, and powerful entrepreneurial strategies from one of the game industry’s most innovative and successful composers.

How does music change seamlessly to follow the action in DOTA 2? Come and learn how. What is the single most powerful piece of technology available to video game composers today? Come and find out. What should every composer take into every single business pitch?  Come and discover answers to all these questions and many more as we delve into the complex and fascinating world of music scoring for games!

The Sweeney Hall lecture will be followed by a one-hour question and answer session in Simon Music M242.

This event is funded in part by the Sweetwater Computer Music Lecture Series.

About Thomas

Thomas helps students and professionals navigate the intersection of music scoring, technology, and business. His music has underscored blockbuster commercial success and critical acclaim, including an Oscar, an Emmy, and billions of dollars in video game and film sales worldwide.

Last year, four million people bought Chance’s original music score for the DOTA 2 compendium. His top video game credits include Lord of the Rings Online, James Cameron’s Avatar, Heroes of Might and Magic, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, and many more.

His music can be heard on hit television shows like Pawn Stars, The Bachelorette, and America’s Most Wanted. His movie scores include the Academy Award-winning animated short film The ChubbChubbs! from Columbia Pictures.

Chance is a director of the Game Audio Network Guild and serves on several advisory boards. His business interests range across studios, publishing, and audio services, successfully supporting an active composing career spanning more than 20 years.

Read more about Thomas.

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