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.
October 4: The Prometheus Duo will perform my Three Small Resonant Pieces for alto saxophone and piano in Belgrade, Serbia as part of the Belgrade Saxperience 2019 festival. The concert takes place at City Hall at 8 pm. The duo features saxophonist Joseph Abad and pianist Marko Stuparevic.
October 5: Oboist Amanda LaBrecque will perform my Three Excursions for Solo Oboe on her recital at 5 pm at the Christ Church in New Bern, North Carolina. The beautiful Gothic-revival church is located at 320 Pollock Street. Free-will donations will be accepted at the door.
October 6: The Prometheus Duo continues its Serbian tour with a performance of my Three Small Resonant Pieces for alto sax and piano at the Cultural Center in Smederevo at 8 pm.
October 7: The Prometheus Duo continues its Serbian tour with a performance of my Three Small Resonant Pieces for alto sax and piano at the Cultural Center in Pirot at 8 pm.
October 8: The relentless Prometheus Duo continues its Serbian tour with a performance of my Three Small Resonant Pieces for alto sax and piano at the Cultural Center in Nis at 8 pm.
October 9: The peripatetic Prometheus Duo continues its Serbian tour with a performance of my Three Small Resonant Pieces for alto sax and piano at the National Theater in Sombor at 8 pm.
October 10: The road-weary Prometheus Duo concludes its Serbian tour with a performance of my Three Small Resonant Pieces for alto sax and piano at the City Museum of Vrsac at 8 pm.
October 10: Soloist Richard Hoenich will perform my bassoon concerto, Guignol, with the University of Ottawa Wind Ensemble under the direction of Daniel Gress at 8 pm in Huguette Labelle Hall at 550 Cumberland Street on the Ottawa campus. Admission is a voluntary contribution. I will be in Ottawa to attend the rehearsal and concert and to speak with composition students as Composer-in-residence.
October 11: A version of my Evensong (originally for trumpet and wind ensemble) will be performed by trumpeter Tom Seddon and organist Song Yi Park as part of a faculty showcase concert at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. The free concert will begin at 7:30 pm in the White Concert Hall on the Topeka campus.
October 16: The Presidents College is the University of Hartford's adult learning program. I will be teaching a three-session course in the creative process of a composer. At each session I will discuss the origin and development of one or more of my compositions, and the piece under discussion will be performed live by Hartt faculty. The first session will take place in the University of Hartford's 1877 Club from 10:30 am until noon. My guest performer will be harpist Susan Knapp Thomas who will perform my Suite from 'As You Like It' and my Five Studies on Exotic Scales. Go to https://www.hartford.edu/academics/library/presidents-college/default.aspx for full information and to register for the course.
October 23: The second session of my three-week course for the University of Hartford's Presidents College will feature the Amaranth Duo in a pre-premiere reading of my piece for violin and guitar titled Runes I: Freyja's Aet. The lecture/recital takes place in the University of Hartford's 1877 Club from 10:30 am until noon.
October 24: The Prometheus Duo, saxophonist Joseph Abad and pianist Marko Stuparevic, will perform my 3 Small Resonant Pieces at 10 am in the Westminster Presbyterian Church (2080 Boulevard) in West Hartford, Connecticut.
October 26: My piece for trumpet and wind ensemble, Evensong, will be performed in the Toronto metropolitan area by soloist Gillian Chreptyk with Pratik Gandhi conducting the Rouge River Winds. The concert will take place at St. Duston of Canterbury Church at 56 Lawson Road in Scarborough, Ontario at 7:30 pm. Tickets at the door are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors, students, and arts workers.
October 27: The official premiere of my Runes I: Freyja's Aet will be given by the Amaranth Duo on a program at the Hartt School of the University of Hartford at 8 pm in Berkman Recital Hall. The Amaranth Duo, violinist Asa Gudjonsdottir-Skelton and guitarist Christopher Ladd, commissioned the piece which was inspired by Norse culture and the Icelandic landscape.
October 30: The final session of my course for the University of Hartford's Presidents College will feature flutist Janet Arms and some of her students. Janet will perform my Five Preludes for Flute Alone, a work inspired by the ancient Chinese city of Hangchow and my first published composition. Janet's students will perform my piece for eight flutes titled A Pop of the Cork. The lecture/recital takes place in the university's 1877 Club from 10:30 am until noon.
November 18: Stratosphere, the Hartt's School flute ensemble, will perform A Pop of the Cork for 2 piccolos, 4 flutes, and 2 alto flutes at the group's free concert in the Hartt School's Berkman Recital Hall at 8 pm. The ensemble is under the direction of Janet Arms, flutist with the New York City Opera and Hartt's flute professor.
December 4: The Hartt School Viola Ensemble's annual yuletide extravaganza, A Viola Cookie Christmas, will be held at the Gengras Student Union on the University of Hartford campus at 6 pm. The free concert includes a singalong of popular carols and holiday tunes followed by a feast of home baked cookies. Also on the program is the premiere of Munchkinland, my arrangement of music from the Munchkin village scene in the film version ofThe Wizard of Oz. The ensemble is directed by Hartt's professor of viola Rita Porfiris, a virtuoso performer and cookie baker.
University of Hartford
Adult Learning Course To Feature Four Virtuosi Performing Music
of Stephen Michael Gryc
I am looking forward to teaching my course for the University of Hartford's adult learning program, The Presidents College. My course is titled "Composer and Performer: How Music is Created". The three sessions will be held in the university's 1877 Club on three successive Wednesdays from 10:30 am to noon. I will talk 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) features 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) will perform my Iceland-inspired work Runes I: Frejya's Aett. On October 30 the course will conclude with a performance by flutist Janet Arms of Five Preludes for Flute, a work inspired by picturesque sites in Hangchow, China. Janet will bring eight of her students from the Hartt School to perform my short piece for flute octet titled A Pop Of The Cork. If you live in the Hartford area you can register for the course on the University of Hartford website. Just search for "University of Hartford Presidents College" for the link.
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 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.
Bassoon Concerto Makes Big Splash at National Band Conference
Bassoonist Marc Goldberg performs with conductor Edward Cumming and the Foot In The Door ensemble from the University of Hartford's Hartt School in Gammage Auditorium in Tempe, Arizona.
My gnomic bassoon concerto Guignol received a brilliant performance by the Hartt School's Foot In The Door Ensemble. The February 22 performance was part of the biennial national conference of the College Band Directors National Conference which was held this year in Tempe, Arizona on the campus of Arizona State University. The concert took place in the beautiful Gammage Auditorium, one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's last projects. Conductor Edward Cumming led the student musicians, and bassoon phenom Marc Goldberg was the soloist. Many thanks to our great student musicians and to conductor Glen Adsit who conceived the program and worked so hard to bring this group of Hartt's best players to the conference and into national prominence. Conference attendees agreed that this was one of the best performance ever at a CBDNA conference. What a pleasure it was to share a great moment with Hartt's wonderful students and faculty.
Music of Stephen Michael Gryc featured at Missouri State University's
2019 Composition Festival
Stephen Gryc and conductor John Zastoupil in the
Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts in Springfield, Missouri on February 10, 2019.
I had a great time at Missouri State University in Springfield where I was the guest composer for MSU's CompFest 2019 (February 7 - 10). The students and faculty performed seven of my compositions. There were also performances of music by MSU faculty composers Michael Murray and John Prescott as well as a remarkable concert of student works. I attended rehearsals, gave a lecture, and met with several talented young composition and conducting students.
The first concert took place in the C. Minor Recital Hall (!) and featured MSU student ensembles performing A Pop Of The Cork for eight flutes and Dawn in the Arden Forest, a fanfare for six horns. On the same program two members of the MSU faculty, flutist Jill Heyboer and pianist Hey-Jung Hong, gave a brilliant performance of my Shadowdance.
The grand finale of the festival took place in the magnificent Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts. John Zastoupil, MSU's dynamic Director of Concert Bands, led the Wind Symphony in a performance of Las Campanas (The Bells). Zastoupil conducted the Wind Ensemble in performances of my Fanfare for a Noble Rebel and my gnomic bassoon concerto titled Guignol. Kudos to bassoon soloist Keel Williams for his zippy performance. Thanks also to Brad Snow, Director of Athletic Bands, who conducted my Masquerade Variations with the Wind Ensemble. It was great to be with so many talented and energetic students and to get to know MSU's first-rate faculty. I'm thrilled to have so many new friends and musical collaborators.
Brass and percussion players from MSU's Wind Ensemble
under the direction of John Zastoupil recorded my
Fanfare for a Noble Rebel before the Sunday evening concert.