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Department News

Graduate student composer Tonia Ko has been named a winner in the 64th annual BMI Student Composer Awards, one of the world’s foremost talent competitions for young classical artists. The awards were presented at a private ceremony held on May 16, 2016, at the J. W. Marriott Essex House Hotel in New York City. Ms. Ko was also a winner of the 2015 BMI Student Composer Award.

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Associate Professor Alejandro L. Madrid’s most recent book, In Search of Julián Carrillo and Sonido 13 (Oxford University Press, 2015), has won the 2016 Humanities Book Award from the Mexico Section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA). The prize is awarded annually to an outstanding and original contribution to the study of Mexico in book-length academic monographs and works published during the previous year. This is the first time a music book or music-based monograph receives this award. The prize will be presented to Professor Madrid on May 29 in New York City, during the annual meeting of LASA.

The New York Youth Symphony First Music program has announced composition graduate student Charlie Peck has been selected as one of seven commissions for the NYYS’s 54th season. His chamber music piece will be premiered on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 7:30pm at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.

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Composition grad student Tonia Ko’s premiere of “Strange Sounds and Explosions Worldwide,” performed by the New York Youth Symphony, was reviewed in the New York Times on March 7, 2016.

IBS Classical has released “Boleros & Montunos,” a new CD of the music of Roberto Sierra, featuring Spanish pianist Juan Carlos Garvayo. Video of the press conference announcing the release, which was held at the Palace of the Marquis of Salamanca in Madrid, can be seen here (video in Spanish).

The Cornell University Department of Music reluctantly announces the passing of Professor Emeritus of Composition Steven Stucky on Sunday, February 14, 2016, after a brief illness.

In his career as a composer and intellectual, Steven Stucky rose to the top ranks in his field: winner of the Pulitzer Prize, composer-in-residence and consulting composer for new music for the Los Angeles Philharmonic for an astounding twenty-one years, member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, recipient of numerous awards including two Grammy Awards and a host of prestigious fellowships and residencies.  Stucky served as the director of Composition Studies at the Aspen Music Festival and, it had been recently announced, the director of the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood. Beyond these markers of greatness, Stucky was, as Professor of Performance Xak Bjerken remembers, “a generous person, great composer, wonderful teacher, and model musical citizen.”

During his career Stucky often found ways to forge musical bridges with sister institutions.  He co-founded and served as artistic director for Ensemble X, a groundbreaking collaborative ensemble of faculty from Cornell and Ithaca College. Despite the challenges of treating his illness, Stucky was an active presence in our musical community until just a few days ago. Bjerken adds that “he went out of his way to come to the Ensemble X concert last Sunday, and he was warm and generous with his students, who saw him for the first time after his surgery in early December.   He was such a gentle yet powerful influence on so many of us.”

In his 34-year long career at Cornell, Stucky’s kind heart and cool head made him invaluable. His impression is left on the many graduate and undergraduate students he taught and advised. He had recently retired from Cornell and was teaching courses at the Juilliard School while continuing to mentor his Cornell grad students as Professor Emeritus.

All of Steven Stucky’s friends in the Department of Music send deepest condolences to his wife and to his children.  Plans for a remembrance will be forthcoming.


The Cornell Chronicle Obituary

The New York Times Obituary

The Steven Stucky Memorial Residency for New Music Endowment Campaign

Musicology graduate student Zoe Weiss’ early music ensemble LeStrange Viols’ recording William Cranford: Consort Music for 4, 5 and 6 Viols (New Focus Recordings, 2015) was listed as one of the Notable Recordings of 2015 by Alex Ross in the New Yorker.

More about LeStrange Viols here.

Associate Professor Alejandro L. Madrid was named new editor of Oxford University Press’s award-winning series Currents in Latin American and Iberian Music (CLAIM).

Founded in 2008 by Walter Clark, CLAIM is recognized internationally as the most prestigious and influential Ibero-American music scholarship series. Its books have received prizes from the American Musicological Society, the ASCAP Foundation, the California Mission Studies Association, and the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. Having published three books in the series, professor Madrid’s academic endeavors were central in establishing CLAIM’s impeccable reputation and success. His main task is to reinvigorate the series by redrawing the borders of Ibero-American music and by identifying and attracting cutting edge research while maintaining the highest quality of scholarship.

Professor Emeritus Don M. Randel, was named an Honorary Member of the American Musicological Society at the Society’s 2015 Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.

Honorary members of the AMS are those scholars “who have made outstanding contributions to furthering its stated object and whom the Society wishes to honor.”

The award presentation for Professor Randel included the following commendation:

The Board and Council wish to honor you for your substantial body of scholarly writings, including your magisterial work on Mozarabic chant, your groundbreaking study of Panamanian popular artist Rubén Blades, and your contributions to discussions of the musical and musicological canon. In the remarkable sequence of Harvard Dictionaries you edited, you opened the field to include non-Western traditions and popular music, and in your elegant articles on Dufay you taught us how a Renaissance composer reads a text through music. We also wish to recognize your dedicated service to the Society as a member of the AMS Council; as Chair of Board Nominating Committee and Stevenson Award Committee; and as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Musicological Society (not to mention a few other administrative chores you taken on elsewhere).

The American Musicological Society was founded in 1934 as a non-profit organization to advance “research in the various fields of music as a branch of learning and scholarship.” In 1951 the Society became a constituent member of the American Council of Learned Societies. At present, 3,300 individual members and 1,200 institutional subscribers from forty nations are on the rolls of the Society.

HsuMemoirProfessor Emeritus John Hsu and his wife Martha Hsu have recently released his memoir, about his early days in China, his training at the New England Conservatory and his subsequent career at Cornell and internationally as a cellist, gambist, barytonist and conductor. Titled “It’s All About Music,” the book is available for purchase on

“I am grateful to have had a life full of music,” is how John Hsu ends this memoir that documents his long, successful career. Born in China, he received his early musical training in Shanghai in the 1940’s with Jewish émigrés from Europe. Leaving China in 1949, just as the Communists were taking over the country, he came to the U.S. for college. After receiving his Master’s degree from the New England Conservatory (which awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in 1971), he joined the faculty of Cornell University, where he taught for 50 years.

While teaching cello as his primary responsibility at Cornell, Hsu learned to play the viola da gamba and had an acclaimed career specializing in the difficult French solo repertoire. He is the editor of the complete instrumental works of Marin Marais, the most prolific composer of the time. In 2001 the French government conferred on Hsu the Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des letters for his concerts, recordings and edition of French music.

An accomplished performer on the viola da gamba, the cello, and the baryton, he became a conductor along the way, leading the Apollo Ensemble (a period instrument orchestra he founded) in Haydn symphonies and the Cornell Symphony Orchestra in works from the 18th to the 20th centuries. After retiring from Cornell in 2005, he guest-conducted the Vivaldi Project Ensemble and became Artistic Director and Conductor of the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra.

Told in short chapters, full of anecdotes, copiously illustrated, this memoir will be of interest to anyone curious about the development of the period instrument movement, music at Cornell University, the viola da gamba, Jews in China during the war, Haydn baryton trios, or the life of an extraordinary musician who captivated audiences for decades with his artistry, expressiveness, and eloquence.