Wednesday, May 22, 2013
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Kevin Walczyk was awarded the Raymond and Veverly Sackler Composition Prize by the University of Connecticut.
August 28, 2012
MONMOUTH -- A music professor from Western Oregon University has nabbed a major commission -- and $25,000 -- as part of a composition contest through the University of Connecticut.
Kevin Walczyk, who teaches composition, orchestration, jazz arranging and film scoring, has received the renowned Raymond and Beverly Sackler Composition Prize for 2012 and will be writing a concerto that will be performed by the Atlantic Brass Quintet and the UConn Wind Ensemble in 2014.
The award is through the East Coast university's School of Fine Arts and is a highly competitive international competition: Walczyk beat out 65 other entries from 12 states and 10 countries.
Applicants must send in a body of scores and recordings that are then adjudicated by UConn's faculty.
Walczyk said he was notified in May that he was one of four finalists for the honor. He hadn't been aware of who those people were when he got the good news that he had been tapped.
"There were some big names. If I had known who they were prior ... I would have been a nervous wreck," he said with a laugh. "For me, this is big ... it's probably the most prestigious thing I've ever won."
That's saying a lot, given Walcyzk's resume. He won the 2011 National Band Association's William D. Revelli Memorial Composition Contest for his Second Symphony, Epitaphs Unwritten.
The piece was inspired by the words penned by an American soldier on a peace marker in the small village of Foy, Belgium, near Bastogne.
That same work also got him nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in composition in 2011 and the prestigious Grawemeyer Award at the University of Louisville earlier this year.
Walczyk is a Lake Oswego native and earned his master's degree at the University of North Texas. He's worked at WOU for 17 years.
His commission will be a matinee piece, with a dramatic underscore and jazz improvisation. It's no easy process. His Second Symphony, for example, took nearly a year to complete.
"It's similar to writing a book in that you must sit back and look at the high points, you develop characters and a storyline," he said. "But with a book, somebody is writing in English.
"I'm using 12 pitches and have to reinvent what the alphabet will be, the grammar and the syntax -- I have to create that sound world," he said. "Then I can create the characters."