Concert series pay tribute to late Cornell composers

By: Linda B. Glaser,  A&S Communications
March 13, 2017

The Cornell University Wind Symphony (CU Winds) will pay tribute to the late Steven Stucky and Karel Husa in a series of concerts featuring memorial commissions honoring the former Cornell professors.

“Professors Husa and Stucky were not only distinguished composers, but also dedicated teachers,” said James Spinazzola, director of CU Winds. “Their legacy will live on in their music and in the many students and colleagues they influenced in their combined 72 years on the Cornell faculty.  It seemed most appropriate to honor them by commissioning new music from those with whom they worked.”

The memorial series begins with a town-gown concert on Sun., March 19, at 3 pm in Bailey Hall with CU Winds, conducted by Spinazzola, and the Ithaca High School Wind Ensemble, conducted by Nicki Zawel. The concert will feature a memorial piece entitled “Husa,” written by guest composer David Maslanka for chamber winds. The concert is funded in part by a grant from the Cornell Council for the Arts.

Spinazzola said Stucky was planning to compose a new work for wind ensemble, which was tentatively scheduled to be premiered at Cornell in 2018. “In recognition of this intention and of Professor Stucky’s importance, I commissioned his friend and colleague Chris Rouse [MFA ’77, DMA ’77];  to enrich the repertoire with a substantial piece in Steve’s honor.”

The concert on Sun., May 7, at 3 pm in Bailey Hall will feature this new work dedicated to Stucky, titled “Berceuse Infinie.”  The concert will also include the second piece of the Husa memorial project, “Fanfare for Karel” by Dana Wilson, retired Dana Professor at the Ithaca College School of Music.

Spinazzola commissioned 10 of Husa’s former students and colleagues to compose brief pieces in Husa’s honor. “Most of the compositions will range from two to five minutes, but, taken together, they will form a significant and lasting tribute, and an important contribution to the wind ensemble repertoire,” he said.

The commissioned works will be premiered in the final series of concerts. The concert on Oct. 2 will feature compositions by David Conte, MFA ’82, DMA ’83, Byron Adams, DMA ’84, and Janice Macaulay, Ph.D. ’86. The Nov. 18 concert will feature works by Brian Robison, MFA ’92, DMA ’99, and Thomas Duffy, DMA ’86. Concerts in spring 2018 will include new memorial works by former students Rouse, Greg Woodward, DMA ’86, Fred Cohen, MFA ’86, DMA ’87, as well as by Roberto Sierra, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities in the Department of Music.

Stucky, the Given Foundation Professor of Music Emeritus, died Feb. 14, 2016. The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer was an important mentor to emerging composers and a prominent advocate for new music, including serving as artistic director of Cornell’s Ensemble X. He taught at Cornell for 34 years.

Husa, the Kappa Alpha Professor of Music Emeritus, died Dec. 14, 2016. The Pulitzer Prize winner taught generations of composers, including Stucky, as well as conducting major orchestras throughout Europe, Asia and the U.S. He taught at Cornell for 38 years.

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