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School of Music Festival of Contemporary Art Music

Stephen Michael Gryc

Stephen Michael Gryc has always been fascinated by sounds and musical instruments. An intimate understanding of the technique of instruments and the imaginative use of instrumental color are hallmarks of his music. At the Hartt School of the University of Hartford, Gryc teaches the traditional orchestration courses as well as original courses in writing for wind ensembles and for voices. His instrumental expertise has brought commissions from a diverse group of the world’s leading soloists, including oboist Bert Lucarelli, flutist John Wion, and trumpeter Philip Smith. Gryc’s most recent commissions include a trombone concerto for Joseph Alessi, principal trombonist of the New York Philharmonic.

“The festival was certainly a highlight of my life as a composer, and I owe Washington State University my sincerest thanks for a wonderful honor and a great experience.”

Gryc has written for every type of western instrument and ensemble from duo to large orchestra. His works for flute have served as contest pieces for 3 international performance competitions, most recently the Albert Cooper Competition held at the International Flute Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, last August. In February 2004, his “String Quartet,” commissioned by the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, will be premiered by the Avalon Quartet, resident string quartet at the Juilliard School. His works for large ensembles have been performed by such groups as the Eastman Wind Ensemble, the United States Marine Band, and the Minnesota Orchestra.

“That the music of WSU students as well as WSU faculty is heard is unusual and extraordinarily valuable to [WSU’s] talented group of aspiring composers.”

Another aspect of Stephen Michael Gryc’s work as a composer is his interest in fostering a sense of community through his music. He wrote 6 pieces for the yearlong celebration of the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of his hometown of Farmington, Connecticut. The pieces were performed by the town’s schoolchildren, church choirs, and municipal orchestra. He is also one of the few living composers who have written their university’s alma mater and fight song.

“The Festival of Contemporary Art Music is a wonderful celebration of music at WSU. It demonstrates the high quality of both the faculty and the student body and shows the deep commitment of the administration in supporting the performing arts.”

Gryc’s interest in sound extends beyond music. He has recorded the sounds of geysers, mud pots, and other thermal springs in Yellowstone National Park, creating the first digital recordings of such features in the Yellowstone archives. These recordings were used in the soundtrack of the film currently being shown at the Old Faithful Visitor Center titled Yellowstone National Park: A Symphony of Fire and Water. An avid geyser gazer and nature enthusiast, Gryc has written articles on Yellowstone’s geysers and wildflowers.