News and Performances
The music that I have chosen for my news page is the second movement from my brass quintet,
Desert Light. Click on the arrow to hear it if it's not already playing.
After a catastrophic end to the last concert season, small-scale performances are beginning to
be scheduled again. I have made several arrangements for use by smaller ensembles that are being used for pandemic-appropriate concerts.
September 29: The Hartt School's Brass Ensemble will perform my octet arrangement of Joseph, lieber Joseph mein on an outdoor concert at the University of Hartford. Unfortunately, only university students and staff may attend.
September 30: Radio station WPRB (103.3 FM in Princeton, NJ) will broadcast my bassoon concert Guignol on its Classical Discoveries program sometime in the middle of its 7 to 10 am time slot. You can also catch the program online at www.wprb.com.
September 30: I will give a virtual master class to the horn students at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia via Zoom at 8 pm. My host will be Jeffrey Lang who is associate principal horn with the Philadelphia Orchestra and teacher of horn at Curtis. I will be speaking to the students about my work for solo horn, Reflections on a Southern Hymn.
October 1: The Hartt School's Brass Ensemble will perform my octet arrangement of Joseph, lieber Joseph mein in a live-streamed performance from the University of Hartford. Phil Snedecor conducts.
November 14: The Miller-Porfiris violin and viola duo will give a video performance of two of my arrangements at the Wadsworth Atheneum in downtown Hartford as part of the museum's Virtual Second Saturdays for Families. The program runs all day. Admission to the museum is free on November 14. The duo will perform my variations on an old shape-note tune titled Weeping Mary and a string quartet will perform my arrangement of a hymn by Doris Akers called Sweet, Sweet Spirit.
November 19: The Hartt Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Glen Adsit, will perform works for smaller wind ensembles that are based on compositions of three of my favorite composers: Rossini, Mendelssohn, and Debussy. Rossiniana is my woodwind octet arrangement of four late piano pieces by Rossini. Six Romances After Mendelssohn consists of six diverse transformations of the opening theme from Felix Mendelssohn's "Scottish Symphony". Lastly is my orchestration for ten winds of Claude Debussy's piano prelude titled The girl with the flaxen hair. The program will be live-streamed from Millard Auditorium on the campus of the University of Hartford at 12:45 pm. The link is:
December 21: Tubist and graduate student at Nihon University Keita Oda will perform my Music for Tuba and Timpani during his adjudicated performance on the Tokyo campus. In this era of Covid-19, the performance is open only to Nihon students and Keita's family.
Bassoonist Frank Morelli Performs Guignol at Yale
Bassoonist extraordinaire Frank Morelli performed my gnomic bassoon concerto Guignol on February 14, 2020 in Yale University's Woolsey Hall in New Haven, Connecticut. He was accompanied by the Yale Concert Band under the direction of Thomas C. Duffy. I attended this thrilling performance. Morelli is a member of the famed and much recorded Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and is the bassoon professor at both Yale and the Juilliard School. This was the tenth performance of the work.
Frank Morelli rehearses Guignol with conductor Thomas C. Duffy and fourteen members of the Yale Concert Band in Woolsey Hall.
University of Hartford
Adult Learning Course Features Four Virtuosi Performing Music
of Stephen Michael Gryc
I had a great time teaching my course for the University of Hartford's adult learning program, The Presidents College. The course was titled "Composer and Performer: How Music is Created". The three sessions were held in the university's 1877 Club on three successive Wednesdays in October of 2020. I talked about how ideas for specific pieces originated and were developed into a work and how that work was brought to life by collaboration with performers. The first session (October 16, 2019) featured harpist Susan Knapp Thomas performer five pieces that I composed for a production of Shapespeare's As You Like It and my Five Studies on Exotic Scales for solo harp. On October 23 the Amaranth Duo (guitarist Christopher Ladd and violinist Asa Gudjonsdottir-Skelton) performed my Iceland-inspired work Runes I: Frejya's Aett. On October 30 the course concluded with a performance by flutist Janet Arms of Five Preludes for Flute, a work inspired by picturesque sites in Hangchow, China. Janet brought eight of her students from the Hartt School to perform my short piece for flute octet titled A Pop Of The Cork.
Susan Knapp Thomas
New World Trio
Harp of Canaan
The New World Trio premiered my new work for violin, cello, and piano, Harp of Canaan, on Sunday, March 31, 2019 in the beautiful Saint John’s Episcopal Church in West Hartford, Connecticut. The ensemble features three musicians who play significant roles as performers and teachers in the musical life of the Greater Hartford area: violinist Anhared Stowe, founder and artistic director of the NWT and former Hartford Symphony section leader; cellist Peter Zay, member of the Hartford Symphony and principal of the Plymouth Philharmonic in Massachusetts; and pianist Pi-Hsun Shih, internationally active chamber musician and soloist.
The New World Trio commissioned me to compose this work in memory of longtime community and arts activist Sally Williams. Sally's passions and jobs were varied. She worked at several museums and served as Director of the Noah Webster House in West Hartford. For over a decade she served as a chaplain at Hartford Hospital. She was active as a volunteer for several humanitarian and arts organizations. Sally’s degree in divinity and work as a chaplain inspired me to base my composition on an old tune called North Port, one of many pieces that make up an unique American repertoire of communal choral music known as Sacred Harp or shape-note singing, a genre that had its origins in New England. The refrain of North Port includes the words: “I want a seat in Paradise, Glory Hallelujah! I love that union never dies, Glory Hallelujah!” The tune of North Port provides the entire melodic and harmonic fabric of my Harp of Canaan. The title is a reference to the tradition of Sacred Harp singing and to the place name Canaan, that part of the Holy Land where many of the Bible’s stories take place and the name of a town in Connecticut.