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Music professor wins award, premieres works

Jan. 7, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's Curtis Curtis-Smith had a busy fall, wracking up another in a long line of awards and premiering two new compositions in high-profile settings.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers recently awarded the WMU professor of music a 2008-09 ASCAPLUS Award in the Concert Music Division. It is his 32nd award from the organization, which is committed to assisting and encouraging ASCAP composers. The awards are granted by an independent panel and are based on the unique prestige value of each writer's catalog of original compositions and recent performances.

Curtis-Smith's recent performances include two recent premieres of his works.

One of those works, "O Wondrous Singer," is a setting of Walt Whitman poetry drawn from Whitman's "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed." The poem, written in the aftermath of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination, was scored for soprano, string quartet and piano and was premiered by the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players Nov. 12-13 at Stony Brook University and at Merkin Hall at the Kaufman Center in New York City. The performances were well received and universally acknowledged as a highlight of the Players' annual series.

In addition, another new work, "More African Laughter," was premiered Nov. 5 by Judy Moonert and Greg Secor at the 2008 Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Austin, Texas. Moonert and Secor performed the piece as part of "Focus Day" activities centering on the theme "Out of Africa: Exploring African Influence in Contemporary Percussion Music." The piece was regarded as an outstanding work that fit the theme exceptionally well.

The piece also was performed later in the month at Wabash College by Opus 21.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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