Kevin Walczyk of Western Oregon University wins major composition prize

By David Stabler
The Oregonian

Kevin Walczyk, professor of music at Western Oregon University, has won the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Music Composition Prize. The competition, organized by the University of Connecticut’s School of Fine Arts, promotes composers and their music.

The international award comes with $25,000 and presents public performances and  recordings. Walczyk was one of 65 entries from 10 countries and 12 states. His  commissioned work, to premiere in the spring of 2014, will be for a large wind ensemble and brass quintet, and will fuse classical techniques with jazz and improvisation.

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 Portland native, 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.

Walczyk, born in 1964, 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.

The prize was established through a gift from Raymond and Beverly Sackler, major philanthropists and frequent donors to the University. The Sacklers fund several 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,

Past Sackler Prize Composition Winners and Ensemble Categories:
(The Sackler Composition Prize was not awarded in 2010 and 2011.)
J. Mark Scearce
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
Nathan Currier
Piano Concerto
Sheila Silver
Rufus Reid
Jazz Ensemble
Stacy Garrop
Chamber Ensemble
Orianna Webb
Chamber Orchestra
Karim Al-Zand
Chamber Orchestra
Gabriela Lena Frank
Chamber Ensemble

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