WMU News

Music professor continues to rack up awards

April 25, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- An award-winning music professor at Western Michigan University has two new honors to add to his long list of accomplishments.

C. Curtis-Smith recently won a $6,000 Creative Artist Grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs to write a new composition for the Verdehr Trio, an internationally known resident faculty ensemble in the Michigan State University School of Music. The Verdehr Trio, which has performed throughout the world in 14 European countries, the former Soviet Union, Asia and South and Central America, features violin, clarinet and piano and is named after its pianist, Walter Verdehr.

Curtis-Smith currently is writing the piece, which should be finished by summer. One movement of the composition, entitled "Largo with a Twist," will be performed by the Verdehr in early May in East Lansing. The entire three-movement work is to be premiered during the 2000-2001 performance season.

Curtis-Smith says his new creation still does not have a name.

"Since I'm still in the process of writing it, I'm just using a generic title, which is the title of the genre," he says. "For now it's simply 'Trio for Violin, Clarinet and Piano.' But it's going to have a better name than that."

The award from the council comes shortly after Curtis-Smith chalked up his 23rd consecutive American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Award. ASCAP awards, valued at $1,500, are presented annually to assist and encourage writers of serious music. An independent panel of music authorities selects winners based on the value of their catalogs of original compositions and the performances of those works in areas not surveyed by the society.

Curtis-Smith began his string of ASCAP Awards in the mid-70s. A faculty member since 1968, he has received more than 100 grants, awards, commissions and prizes from such organizations as the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the Arts Foundation of Michigan. His honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Koussevitzki Prize at Tanglewood.

An accomplished pianist who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees form Northwestern University, Curtis-Smith has received national and international acclaim for his unusual and imaginative pieces. He has written more than 100 compositions for a variety of instruments.

Notable recent performances of his work include a rendition of "GAS! The Great American Symphony" last October in Carnegie Hall with the American Composers Orchestra and two performances in Houston in cooperation with Rice University.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
616 387-8400