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Pulitzer Prize winning composer to come to UWRF

April 23, 2010

UW-River Falls will host Pulitzer Prize winning composer Michael Colgrass for a three-day residency on April 27 through April 29.

The residency is sponsored by the UWRF Commissioned Composer Project, a student organization that aims to bring the works of contemporary composers to River Falls’ campus. Colgrass will become the 44th commissioned composer in the Commissioned Composer Project’s historic legacy.

The project, which began in 1967 by Professor Emeritus Conrad De Jong, is the longest standing program of its kind within the US, putting a national spotlight on the UWRF Music Department. Every year, the student members of the Commissioned Composer Project select and commission a composer to write a piece of music for the student body and arrange for that composer to come to the campus in the spring to interact with the students and take part in the premier performance of that work.

Colgrass is a highly acclaimed and accomplished composer and percussionist of international renown. He began his musical career as a jazz drummer in Chicago. In 1954, he graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in performance and composition. His compositions are extremely diverse and written for a wide variety of instrumentation or ensembles, ranging from percussion ensembles to musical theatre. He has received commissions from individuals and ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, The Boston Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra. He has received numerous awards for his compositions, including the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for music for his piece Déjà vu, which was commissioned and premiered by the New York Philharmonic.

Colgrass will begin his residency at UWRF on April 27 with a workshop called “Excellence in Performance” from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the band room of Kleinpell Fine Arts (KFA). The workshop addresses how to manage any form of performance anxiety and is free and open to the public. His visit will conclude with the Commissioned Composer Concert at 7:30 p.m. on April 29 in the William Abbott Concert Hall of KFA. The concert will feature many works by the composer, as well as the world premier of the commissioned work entitled