Music

Steven Rings Wins Emerging Scholar Award

Steven Rings, Associate Professor in Music, was recently awarded the Emerging Scholar Award from the Society for Music Theory for his book Tonality and Transformation. The Emerging Scholar Award is given to books or articles published within five years of the author's receipt of their PhD. Rings, who received his PhD from Yale in 2006, focuses his scholarship on transformational theory, phenomenology, popular music, and questions of music and meaning. Tonality and Transformation uses transformational music theory to examine diverse aspects of tonal hearing, focusing on the listener's experience. For more information on the Society for Music Theory, please visit their site.

UChicago Composers Share Creative Processes

Shulamit Ran, Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor of Music, Augusta Read Thomas, University Professor of Composition in Music, and Marta Ptaszynska, Helen B. and Frank L. Sulzberger Professor of Music, recently shared what inspires them to create music and their composing processes. Ran, who recently composed a piece inspired by the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts which was performed at the building's launch festival, said “Life informs my music in every possible way, through the people I meet, the sounds I hear, things I see or read, life’s events and passages, its awe and adventure. This feeds into everything I am, and thus everything I compose.”

Ptaszynka and Thomas both commented that ideas for their compositions usually come to them fully-formed, rather than in fragments. “I never start a piece if I don’t know how the piece will end,” Ptaszynska says. “It’s like buying a train ticket without knowing where you’re going.”

Thomas' process echoes this theme of travel. “I usually draw maps—a timeline of the piece, the shapes it’s going to take, its harmonic fields,” she says. “If you’re going to build a huge building or cathedral, you can’t just go to the hardware store and start hammering nails. I actually draft the beginning, middle, and end of absolutely every sound. I want to know, what’s the inner life? Where is it going, why is it going there? How does it relate to what comes next, and why? Gestalt is everything to me.”

All three composers underscored that none of their creativity would be possible without diligent work, which makes the University of Chicago a particularly fruitful setting. “Many people have a talent but don’t develop their craft,” Ptaszynska says. “And talent without craft is nothing.”

Read the full article here.

National Prize for Historic Music Awarded to Alumni-Led Ensemble

Schola Antiqua of Chicago, a professional vocal ensemble dedicated to the performance of music composed before the year 1600, was recently awarded the 2012 Noah Greenberg Award by the American Musicological Society. The Artistic Director of Schola Antiqua, Michael Alan Anderson, earned his PhD from the University of Chicago in the History and Theory of Music in 2008. About the winning project, "Sounding the Neumatized Sequence," he says, “The year 2012 marks the 1100th anniversary of the death of the most important sequence composer, Notker Balbulus of St. Gall, and scholars of the sequence have turned renewed attention to the curious, widespread musical practice of ‘neumatization’ in particular. Early music ensembles however have scarcely kept pace with these latest developments in medieval music scholarship.”

The Noah Greenberg award aims to "stimulate active cooperation between scholars and performers by recognizing and fostering outstanding contributions to historical performing practices." Schola Antiqua served as an Artist in Residence in the Department of Music in 2006-2007, making this the second consecutive year that an artist connected to the University has won this prestigious award. Last year's winner was the New Budapest Orpheum Society, an Ensemble in Residence in the Division of the Humanities, for their project “Representing the Holocaust, Resounding Terezín.”

Augusta Read Thomas to Premier Four New Compositions During 2012-13 Season

The world premiere of Resounding Earth by Augusta Read Thomas, University Professor in the Department of Music, will  be performed on September 30, 2012 by Third Coast Percussion at the University of Notre Dame’s Debartolo Performing Arts Center. This is the first of four major worldpremieres this season. Earth Echoes will premier on October 11, 2012, at Carnegie Hall featuring the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, and baritone Nathan Gunn. Harvest Drum will be performed on December 20, 2012, featuring the National Centre for the Performing Arts Symphony Orchestra, Beijing, China. Lastly, Cello Concerto No. 3, will debut on March 14-16, 2013, featuring the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, featuring cellist Lynn Harrell.

For more information, please visit the webpage of the Department of Music.

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