College of Liberal Arts & Sciences / Creative Arts

Walczyk won prestigious music composition prize

Dr. Kevin Walczyk

Dr. Kevin Walczyk

Dr. Kevin Walczyk, professor of music at Western Oregon University, has been named the recipient of the ninth Raymond and Beverly Sackler Music Composition Prize. The competition, organized by the School of Fine Arts, supports and promotes composers and the performance of their new musical works.

An international award, the prize offers a substantial recognition including public performances, recordings, and a prize of $25,000 (USD). Walczyk was chosen from among 65 entries from 10 countries and 12 states. The commissioned work will premiere spring 2014 and it will be created for a large wind ensemble and brass quintet, and will fuse concert music composition techniques with jazz elements, including improvisation.

“The prize is part of a broader structure promoting innovation, inventiveness and the creative spirit within the School of Fine Arts,” says David G. Woods, dean of the school. “It provides the opportunity for cutting-edge creative exploration and productivity, and will reflect the essence of creativity in the artistic program of the school.”

The prize was established through a gift from Raymond and Beverly Sackler, major philanthropists and frequent donors to the University. The Sacklers fund several important initiatives at the School of Fine Arts, including an artist-in-residence program, the Master Artists and Scholars Institute, and the Art and Archeology Lecture Series. The Sacklers were also instrumental in forging an academic partnership between the Metropolitan Opera and UConn, the first collaboration of its kind between the opera company and an institution of higher learning. In addition to the fine arts programs, the Sacklers fund many other initiatives at UConn.

Each year, entrants are asked to compose a piece for a specific area of the musical arts, chosen by the head and other faculty of the music department, such as a jazz ensemble, choir, opera, wind ensemble, or solo instrument. For more information, please visit http://www.sacklercompositionprize.uconn.edu

At WOU, Walczyk teaches composition, orchestration, jazz arranging, film scoring, media production, and serves as the graduate music coordinator. Walczyk’s students have garnered awards that include the BMI Student Composers Awards, the Oregon Symphony Conti-Connection Composition Competition, and the Oregon Symphony Creative Kids Composition Competition. He has served as resident composition instructor and/or guest composer of youth children initiatives with the Oregon Symphony, Portland Youth Philharmonic, and the Metropolitan Learning Center of Portland.

A native of Portland Oregon, Kevin Walczyk received a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree from Pacific Lutheran University in 1987 and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of North Texas where he was the recipient of the Hexter Prize for outstanding graduate student. Walczyk’s principal composition instructors have included Larry Austin, Jacob Avshalomov, Thomas Clark, Martin Mailman, and Cindy McTee. As an accomplished jazz arranger and composer, Walczyk refined his craft with prominent jazz arrangers Tom Kubis and Frank Mantooth, and served as arranger for the renowned University of North Texas One O’clock Lab Band (1988-89).

Walczyk has served as guest composer at Indiana University, University of Oklahoma, Mary Washington University, University of South Carolina, and University of Kansas. Walczyk was selected as Western Oregon University’s Faculty Excellence Award winner (1998-99) and the Academic Outstanding Advisor of the Year (2006-07). As one of 13 faculty members nationwide, Walczyk was awarded the Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Faculty Advisor from the National Academic Advising Association (2008-09).

Walczyk’s composition honors include winning the 2011 National Band Association’s William D. Revelli Memorial Composition Contest for his Second Symphony. The same composition earned him nominations for the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in music composition (2011) and the Grawemeyer Award (2012). He has received grants from Meet the Composer, Argosy Foundation, American Music Center, and Western Oregon University. He has earned prizes or finalist status from the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble’s Harvey Gaul Competition (commissioning prize), Chamber Orchestra Kremlin’s International-Blitz Competition (2nd Grand Prize), the National Band Association’s William D. Revelli Memorial Composition Contest, College Band Directors National Association, ASCAP, BMI, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Wind Ensemble Composition Competition, three Masterworks of the New Era recording prizes from ERM Media, Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, Los Angeles Philharmonic Synergy project, the Lionel Hampton Creative Composition Competition, and Pacific Coast College Jazz Festival Merit of Achievement in Composition. Walczyk was selected as the Midwest Clinic 2010 commissioned composer and was selected for a special commission for the 2011 Midwest Clinic international conference.

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