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.
March 13: My Six Romances After Mendelssohn for ten wind instruments will be performed on a concert of wind chamber music at Michigan State University at 8 pm EST. Henry Dorn, MSU doctoral student and graduate teaching assistant, will conduct the student performers. I hope to share a link to the live-stream performance soon.
March 26: The Cinncinati College Conservatory Wind Ensemble will perform my bassoon concerto,
titled Guignol, for the video camera. The soloist will be Andrea Baker, a graduate student at CCM, and the conductor will be Savannah Shu, another graduate student. The video of the concert will be released soon after. I'll post the link when I get it.
April 22: Tyler Ehrlich conducts the Emory University Wind Ensemble in another performance of my Six Romances After Mendelssohn on a live-streamed concert from the Atlanta campus. The time and link to the performance will be added when I received the information.
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.