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Curtis K. Hughes

Composition Faculty

The music of Curtis K. Hughes (b. 1974) has been described as "fiery" by The New York Times, "well crafted" by The Boston Phoenix and "colorfully scored" by The Boston Globe. Most recently, his 2006 composition, danger garden, was described by David Cleary in New Music Connoiseur as "energetic, compelling stuff" handled with "seasoned sureness," and by critic Richard Dyer as a "little winner." Works of his have been commissioned and championed by numerous chamber groups, including the Callithumpian ConsortCollage New Music, the Yesaroun' Duo, the Firebird Ensemble, the Saxophone Quartet of the U.S. Marine Band and many others. His orchestral and large ensemble music has been performed in recent years by The Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Wind Ensemble, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra, the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies and by theBoston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) as the winner of the organization's 4th annual composition competition.

Currently residing in Boston, Hughes holds the position of 2007–2008 composer-in-residence with the Radius Ensemble and is an instructor in music theory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From 2005–2007, he was the composer-in-residence with Collage New Music and he has also taught composition and theory at Brandeis University and the New England Conservatory (NEC), where he received a Ph.D. in 2005 and a M.M. in 2000, studying primarily with composer Lee Hyla and also with Michael Gandolfi. He has also studied independently with composer Evan Ziporyn, has collaborated with composer/improviser Joseph Maneri and is a graduate of Oberlin College and Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he studied with composers Param Vir and Pieter Snapper. At NEC, he was the winner of composition competitions for the Honors String Quartet and the Contemporary Ensemble, as well as the recipient of NEC's Tourjée Alumni Award and, in 2000, he received the Japan Society of Boston's Toru Takemitsu Prize for Composition, awarded annually to one of the "most promising" young composers in the Boston area.

In recent years, Hughes's music has been performed in such diverse venues as the Red House Center for Culture and Debate in Bulgaria, the Library of Congress in Washington, Ozawa Hall at the Tanglewood Music Center, Elebash Hall at CUNY in New York City, the Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition in Rotterdam, the Summer Institute for Contemporary Piano Performance (SICPP), NEC's Jordan Hall, the New Gallery Concert Seriesin Boston's south end, and many others. He has also collaborated repeatedly with some of the most remarkable musicians of his generation, including pianist Sarah Bob, percussionist Aaron Trant, violinist Biliana Voutchkova, saxophonist/conductor Eric Hewitt and clarinetis Michael Norsworthy.

His debut CD, AVOIDANCE TACTICS, released in late 2003 from Cauchemar Records, was praised by The Wire as "spiky" and "absorbing," and by New Music Box as "an emblem to pulling together the wherewithal to do something audacious," and a live version of the title track from the CD was broadcast internationally on WGBH's Art of the States. Curtis is also a co-founder, with composer David T. Little, of NATIONAL INSECURITY, an annual program of all-American political music. In 2005, he was awarded the ASCAP Foundation Leonard Bernstein Composer Fellowship at theTanglewood Music Center in Lenox, Massachusetts and a St. Botolph Club Foundation Grant-in-Aid Award for a new work for the Firebird ensemble which was premiered in 2006.

An active member of greater Boston's new music community, Hughes routinely organizes and produces concerts around the greater Boston area at venues such as MIT's Killian Hall, and for two years he was the director of NEC's new music concert series, Tuesday Night New Music. He has also performed and recorded for New World Records with Gamelan Galak Tika, a Balinese/Western ensemble founded by Evan Ziporyn, and he has participated in numerous music festivals, including the June in Buffalo conference, Aspen and the Composers Conference in Wellesley, Massachusetts. 

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