Composition Department


Dr. David Jones (DM - 1995), Associate Professor of Music at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, WA, received the premiere of his duet for vibraphone and marimba, Gamelocity, in France this past summer. PercuDuo (whose marimbist is a member of Paris Opera Orchestra) gave several performances including at the "Cuivres en Fete" Festival in St. Junien. Legal Highs (violin and marimba) was performed in Albi (France) and Osaka this summer. The Osaka performance, in Phoenix Hall, was given by Setsuko Kutsuno (mar) and Yuka Sato (vln) as part of an All-American Music concert. PC@50, commissioned by Peninsula College to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the college, was premiered by the Peninsula College Jazz Ensemble at Maier Hall in June.

Brendan Faegre's (MM - 2010) Tanbura Dreams--an orchestral work reflecting on his time spent in India--was awarded the Northridge Prize and will finally receive its premiere this December 2012. Also, the Lake George Music Festival has asked Faegre to return as their 2013 Composer-in-residence, and will be commissioning a new work in honor of artists Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, who spent many a summer at Stieglitz's family estate in Lake George during the late 1910s and 1920s. In addition, the Third Angle Ensemble--one of the new music pillars in his hometown Portland, Oregon--has commissioned a new work for amplified string quartet as part of naming Faegre the Finalist in the International category of their New Ideas in Music Competition.

Kotoka Suzuki's (BM 1994) Automata: Mechanical Garden was be performed at the International Computer Music Festival in Ljublijana, Slovania on the 13th September 2012, and on 20 October The Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra of Leipzig will give the world premier of Dreams and Wandering for chamber orchestra & electronics as part of the SinusTon Music Festival in Magdeburg, Germany. From December 2012 to March 2013, Kotoka will be the Artist in Residence at the Center for Art & Media (ZKM), Karlsruhe, Germany, through the Canada Council for the Arts. And 30 Years Inventionen - DVD / CD compilation is out now, containing Automata: Mechanical Garden. Published by Edition RZ, funded through DAAD. Available here.

Mischa Zupko (DM 2003) was commissioned by the Michigan Youth Arts Festival to write a multi-disciplinary work involving orchestra, chorus, dance, drama and media arts on a text by Madeline L'Engle in celebration of MYAF's 50th anniversary. The Michigan Youth Arts Festival is the culmination of a nine-month search for the finest artistic talent in Michigan high schools. More than 250,000 students statewide participate in the adjudication process that results in nearly 1,000 being invited to participate in the annual three-day arts spectacular held in May.
In addition, Mr. Zupko was commissioned by the Music Institute of Chicago to write a Piano Quartet for the Lincoln Trio (pianist Marta Aznavoorian, violinist Desiree Ruhstrat and cellist David Cunliffe) joined by violist Masumi Per Rostad of the Pacifica Quartet. The new work asl premiered at the Ravinia Festival on August 24, 2012.

Gordon Williamson (DM 2012) has signed with the Berlin based publisher Edition Gravis. Recent activities include the May premiere of Five Moving Pictures by the Kairos Quartet at the 2012 Visions Festival in Hannover and a new orchestral commission from RSO Stuttgart for the 2014 Eclat Festival in Stuttgart.

Forrest Pierce (DM 1999) has been awarded The Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University for 2012. Dr. Pierce has two graduate music degrees–MA from the University of Minnesota (1996) and the DM from Indiana University (1999) where he garnered the Dean’s Prize in Composition. At those institutions, he studied composition with Dominick Argento and Don Freund. Pierce’s fascination with Sufi mysticism has now evolved to an interest in textural conception that is “primarily heterophonic, largely derived from Rock root-position progression and florid Qawwali music...his rhythmic language has become an alternation and collision between freely improvisatory meditative landscapes and consistently pulsed motoric dance rhythms.” He currently holds a faculty position at the University of Kansas.

Bin Li (BM 2012) has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Composition Competition for his piece Autobahn Beyond. It will be performed in Indiana State University in Oct 25 by ICO.

Brian Ciach (DM 2012) has accepted a tenure track position as Assistant Professor (Music Theory and Electronic Music) at Murray State University, KY.

Chia-Ying Chiang (DM 2011) has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Composition & Theory at Taipei Municipal University of Education, Seoul, Korea.

Natalie Williams, (DM 2012) has accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor in Composition and Music Theory for the 2012-13 at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia.

John Glover (BM 2005) is one of three composers to be selected for the First Music program. Through its First Music program, the New York Youth Symphony has selected seven of America’s emerging orchestra, chamber music, and jazz composers under age 30 to write commissions for the NYYS’ 50th Anniversary Season. The works will be premiered by NYYS student musicians on their performances at Carnegie Hall, Jazz @ Lincoln Center, and Weill Recital Hall.

Brendan Faegre (MM 2010), currently residing in the Netherlands, has founded the Brendan Faegre Edge Ensemble, a semi-improvisational group where he acts as composer-percussionist-bandleader. He was also asked to be the 2012 Composer-in-residence for the Lake George Music Festival this August, where they will premiere the full 4-movement version of Four Koans and perform The Circular Ruins. In addition Brendon was also selected to participate (as a Netherlands representative) in the European Composers' Professional Development Programme, which will culminate in a new work for the Italian group Icarus Ensemble, to be premiered at the 2012 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

Natalie Williams (DM 2012) has recently received a commission from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, for a new work to be premiered in 2013. The piece will receive three performances as part of their regional tour in November 2013, conducted by Ben Northey.

Clint Needham has been appointed Composer-in-Residence at Baldwin-Wallace College (Berea, OH).

Natalie Williams (DM 2011) has recently accepted a large orchestral commission from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. It is a new work based on the life of Sir Donald Bradman (a prominent Australian icon) and will be premiered in 2014. The duration is 30 minutes and forces include the orchestra, choir and vocal soloists. Natalie will have full artistic control over the new work, including text, orchestra size, even the possibility of writing a theatre or dance piece or using a pit/stage/chamber orchestra. The work will be premiered in her home town of Adelaide in 2014.

Brian Ciach has been named the inaugural Subito Composer Fellow. "The Composer Institute," notes Stephen Culbertson (Subito Music founder and CEO), “is a celebrated training program for young symphonic composers; and this year, it presented Brian’s work Collective Uncommon. Brian possesses a unique way of connecting with listeners through his use of orchestration and intense sonorities to create a visceral, musical montage. 
Brian has also recently accepted an offer from Murray State University (Murray, KY) for a full-time, tenure track position as Assistant Professor of Music. He will be lecturing in Music Theory, Counterpoint, Form, and Analysis, and will also be teaching his own introductory self-designed course in Electronic Music.

Wellspring by David Vayo (BM '80, MM '82) received its premiere performances on November 10 and 11 by the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Spain, conducted by Michal Nesterowicz. The performances, which took place in A Coruña and Santiago de Compostela, resulted from Vayo having won the Andrés Gaos International Competition for Composers two years earlier.

On February 14, Clint Needham's Chamber Symphony was released by the American Composers Orchestra on their first Emerging Composers Digital Release on iTunes, Amazon, and Instant Encore.

Elizabeth Ogonek (BM 2010) has been named one of the three 2012 Marshall Scholars. Valued at over $60,000, the scholarship pays for graduate study at any university in the United Kingdom, including fees, living expenses, fares to and from the U.S., and grants for books, research, daily travel and a thesis. The scholarships were founded by the British Parliament in 1953 to commemorate the Marshall Plan, in which the United States helped the countries of Western Europe rebuild after the destruction of World War II.

Matt Van Brink (BM '96) is this year's composer-not-in residence with San Francisco Choral Artists, directed by Magen Solomon. He will compose new works for their performances in December, March and June.

Clint Needham (DM 2010, MM 2006) will have his new work Color Study premiered by Brazil's leading new music group, Camerata Aberta, at the 2011 SONiC Sounds of a New Century Festival. The concert will take place at the Americas Society, 680 Park Ave., NYC at 7:00pm on Tuesday, October 18.

John Sokol (DM 2011) has receive and accept an offer from Defiance College, where he is teaching as Lecturer in music appreciation and theory/aural skills.

Composer and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music alum, Clint Needham (MM 2006, DM 2010), has been selected as the winner of the 2011 International Barlow Prize. Along with this distinction comes a $12,000 consortium commission for the Imani Winds, Fifth House Ensemble, and Orpheus Winds. Previous winners of the Barlow Prize include Christopher Theofanidis, Kevin Puts, David Dzubay (IU Professor of Composition), and Pulitzer Prize winners Michael Colgrass and Zhou Long, among others. The three groups mentioned above will premiere the new work in 2013. More information about the prize can be found at More information about the composer can be found at

Justin Merritt (DM 2003) has won a McKnight Fellowship. It is a $25,000 award based on his orchestra piece River of Blood, a piano piece Chaconne: Mercy Endures, and a percussion piece Sturm und Drang. He is going to use the fellowship to continue work on a new opera, The Depths.

N. Lincoln Hank’s (DM 2000) composition Prayers and Meditationsfor solo piano was awarded 2nd Prize in the music+culture 2011 International Competition for Composers. Lincoln’s composition Orbitsfor two pianos was recently performed in a ballet production at the Finale Event of the Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts in Nashville. The production took place at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center on June 30.

AIKMAN, J.: Venice of the North Concerti

Award-winning composer James Aikman (DM 1993) is celebrating the Naxos release of three of his works Ania’s Song, Violin Concerto, and the Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra. His works embrace a colorful tapestry of stylistic influences, including jazz and pop.

Cary Boyce (DM 1993) has recently received a regional Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for his music score for the documentary Harp Dreams.

Clint Needham (DM 2010) is one of eight Resident Composers selected from around the world for the 2011 Mizzou New Music Festival in Columbia, MO in July. Needham’s work Urban Sprawl will be premiered by acclaimed new music chamber orchestra, Alarm Will Sound, on July 16 at the Missouri Theatre.

Eric Nathan, (MM 2008) received a New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission for a new chamber work to be premiered by members of the New York Youth Symphony in Carnegie Hall Weill Recital Hall during the 2011-12 season.

David Werfelmann and Eric Guinivan have both been awarded one of the eleven 59th Annual BMI Student Composer Awards. Werfelmann's winning work was The Mad Machine for orchestra and Guinivan's was Mie: Caprice for Eight Musicians for 2 E-flat clarinets, 2 trombones, 2 percussion, viola and violoncello.

Clint Needham (DM 2010) had two orchestral commissions premiered in early April. The first work, Southern Air, was premiered by the Texarkana Symphony and was hailed as a "nostalgic, beautiful composition that truly captured the spirit on this warm spring day - thick, sultry Southern air" by Aaron Brand of the Texarkana Gazette. The next work, Inside & Out, was premiered by the Sioux City Symphony and was hailed as "...eclectic, moving, and inspiring... more hopeful than most 21st century composition" by Bruce R. Miller of the Sioux City Journal.

Eric Nathan's (MM 2008) composition Three by Three for solo piano just received an ASCAP Morton Gould Award, and he has just been accepted into the Aldeburgh Festival Britten-Pears Young Artists Programme this summer in Snape, UK, with Oliver Knussen and Colin Matthews as resident instructors.

Clint Needham (DM 2010) is one of the four winning composers in the 2010 Orpheus Project 440.  The Project 440 commissioning process began in the Spring of 2010 with 60 nominees whose composer profiles and audio samples were posted online for people to comment on.  A selection committee narrowed the pool from 60 nominees to 4.  Each winning composer will have their piece premiered during the 2011-2012 season at Carnegie Hall and across the country.  For more on the Orpheus Project 440, visit: 

Kenneth Froelich (DM 2004, MM 2001) will be in residence from October 12-17th, at Cornell University. During his stay there, he will be teaching composition master classes both to the students at Cornell and to students at Ithaca area secondary schools.  At the conclusion of the residency, his work "Pulse Mutations" (dissertation) will be premiered by the Cornell Symphony Orchestra. Also, on November 19th, his band work "Tock" will be performed by the CSU Bakersfield concert band as part of their New American Music series.  This work is currently slated for publication by Wingert-Jones Publications, a division of J.W. Pepper.

Laura Kramer's (MM '08) Warped (2007-08) for alto sax and electronics is now published with Dorn Publications, and will be performed at Electronic Music Midwest, Lewis University, Oct. 14-16, 2010.

Robert Paterson (MM ’01) will be composer-in-residence with the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association for three years, from 2009-2012.  He will work with all of VYOA's ensembles, including the Vermont Youth Orchestra and the VYO Chorus, and they will perform his orchestral music for the next couple of seasons. His residency will culminate in a commission for a twenty-minute work for orchestra and chorus which will be premiered in 2012. This residency is sponsored by Meet the Composer and the League of American Orchestras.  Robert Paterson is also the winner of the 2010 Cincinnati Camerata Composition Competition with his setting of Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep (text by Mary Frye). The panel chose this work, from his cycle Eternal Reflections, for its expressive choral writing, text painting and imaginatively beautiful textures.

Bryan Christian (BM '07) has been awarded a prestigious Fromm Commission from the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University to write a new work for Ensemble U:, a new music group based in Tallinn, Estonia. The foundation will provide a $10,000 commission fee to Bryan, as well as up to $3000 to Ensemble U: to support the premiere performance. For more information, please see a recently released "feature article" about Bryan's music.

Martin Kennedy (MM '02) has been awarded the $5000 ASCAP Nissim Prize. Mathew Peterson (MM '08) was also awarded Special Distinction by the jury.  Also, her Different Sorts (2008), a duo for violin and guitar, was awarded honorable mention in the 2009 Margaret Blackburn Biennial Composition Competition by the Pittsburg Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Alpha lota.

Laura Kramer's Warped (2007-08) for alto saxophone and electronics was selected for performance at the 2010 New Music Festival at Western Illinois Unversity, Macomb, IL, March 8-10, 2010.

Robert Manthey (BM, 1999) recently had a performance of his Music for Rocks and Clouds for 14 instruments by the Ives Ensemble on December 19th, 2009 in Amsterdam at the Muziekgebouw aan't IJ.

Laura Kramer's Tranquil InDensity (2007) for electronics was selected for performance at the 2010 SEAMUS National Conference at St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, April 8-10, 2010.

Jason Bahr (DM, 2003) was commissioned by the Choral Arts of Springfield (OH) to write a work for choir, organ, brass quintet, and timpani. The work, Run, Shepherds, Run, was premiered on Nov. 15.

Mischa Zupko (DM, 2003) was recently named the winner of the Loudoun Symphony Orchestra's American Composer Competition. In addition to receiving a monetary award, Zupko's work will be performed by the Loudoun Symphony in March, 2010.