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.
2020 WINTER/SPRING PERFORMANCES
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.
February 14: The Yale University Concert Band will perform my concerto for bassoon and small wind orchestra, Guignol, in Woolsey Hall (500 College Street, New Haven, CT) at 7:30 pm. The soloist will be the great Frank Morelli. My friend and colleague Thomas C. Duffy will direct the ensemble. Enjoy the free concert after a Valentine's dinner at one of New Haven's wonderful restaurants.
February 14 and 15: I am the composer of the University of Hartford's fightsong, Fly High, and alma mater, The Red and the White. Fly High will be performed by the Hartt Omni Ensemble on the Hartt School's annual Collage Concert, a spectacular non-stop performance that involves music, theatre, and dance. The concert, involving hundreds of Hartt's talented students, is the school's gift to the community. The concert is free, but tickets are required as the Lincoln Theater is usually completely filled for both the Friday and Saturday 7:30 pm performances. Use this link to obtain free tickets:
February 22: Trumpet virtuoso Kevin Eisensmith will perform my Evensong in the version for trumpet and piano on his recital at 8 pm in the Gorell Recital Hall on the campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania on the Indiana, PA campus. If you're not in the area, you can see and hear the livestream of the recital at
April 18: Evensong for Trumpet and Wind Ensemble, one of my most frequently-performed works, will be heard on a concert given by the Muhlenberg Wind Ensemble under the direction of Andrew Ardizzoia. Trumpeter Donald Hughes will be the soloist. The free concert will take place in the Baker Center for the Arts' Empie Theatre at 7:30 pm. CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC
April 25: My friend and constant collaborator Glen Adsit will conduct the Hartt Omni Wind Ensemble in a performance of my Masquerade Variations on a Theme of Sergei Prokofiev at 7:30 pm in the Lincoln Theater on the University of Hartford campus. CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC
May 3: The premiere of my Tree of Life: Meditation for Trombone, Harp and Strings will be given by the University of Hartford's Symphony Orchestra at Woolsey Hall on the Yale University campus in New Haven, CT. Haim Avitsur will be the trombone soloist, and Glen Adsit will conduct the strings of the HSO. Time TBA.
CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC
May 7: Evensong for Trumpet and Wind Ensemble will be performed by trumpeter Jacob Myers and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Wind Ensemble at 7 pm in Bedford Concert Hall on the Parkside campus. Laura J. Rexroth will conduct the free concert.
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 from 10:30 am to noon. 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) 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 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.