Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

Kevin Puts
Kevin Puts

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News Release

Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-9472

April 11, 2007

Noted composer Kevin Puts to visit
NIU School of Music as guest-in-residence

DeKalb — Composer Kevin Puts, whose works include “Einstein on Mercer Street” and “Symphony No. 2: Island of Innocence,” is coming to campus later this month as a guest of the Northern Illinois University Philharmonic.

Brett Mitchell, director of the Philharmonic and an assistant professor in the NIU School of Music, arranged the visit that begins Monday, April 23, and concludes Wednesday, April 25.

The three days will include two concerts, an all-school convocation, a composition seminar and the Illinois premiere of “Island of Innocence.” All events are free and open to the public.

“It’s a pretty big coup. Kevin is an internationally recognized composer and someone who’s gaining more and more in prominence,” says Mitchell, who attended the University of Texas at Austin while Puts served on the music faculty there.

“The best adjective to describe Kevin’s music to someone who is unfamiliar with it is ‘contemporary classical.’ His music is written for the same ensemble that Brahms and Mahler used, but in new and innovative ways.”

Hailed by the press as “one of the most promising young composers in America,” Puts has had works commissioned and performed by leading orchestras, ensembles and soloists throughout North America, Europe and the Far East.

Known for his distinctive and richly colored musical voice, he has received many of today’s most prestigious honors and awards for composition.

He is the composer-in-residence for the Fort Worth Symphony. He also has been selected as the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival’s 2007 American Composer-in-Residence and will write a new orchestral piece to be premiered there by the New York Philharmonic.

Puts is the recipient of a Music Alive Residency with the Mobile Symphony, which will premiere a new work in February 2008, and is writing a clarinet concerto for Bil Jackson and the Colorado Symphony.

A native of St. Louis, he received his bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, his master’s from Yale University and a doctor of musical arts at the Eastman School of Music. In the fall of 2006, he joined the composition faculty of the Peabody Institute.

Puts will have a busy time in the NIU Music Building:

Monday, April 23

  • 1 to 2:50 p.m., Concert Hall: open dress rehearsal with the NIU Philharmonic for “Symphony No. 2: Island of Innocence.”
  • 8 p.m., Concert Hall: Performance of “Symphony No. 2.”

Tuesday, April 24

  • 11 a.m., Concert Hall: all-school convocation.
  • 1:30 to 4 p.m., Recital Hall: open dress rehearsal with faculty chamber players and guest bass-baritone Timothy Jones for “Einstein on Mercer Street.”

Wednesday, April 25

  • 3 p.m., Room 202: composition seminar.
  • 8 p.m., Recital Hall: “Kevin Puts: A Composer Portrait,” featuring performances by NIU faculty, students and guest bass-baritone Timothy Jones of Puts’ “Four Airs,” “And Legions Will Rise” and “Einstein on Mercer Street.”

The composer’s visit to NIU will offer mutual benefits, Mitchell says.

For the 35-year-old Puts, it’s the opportunity to hear several concerts of his music (including one devoted to his alone) while new audiences are exposed to his work. For the students, it’s a chance to work with a modern composer.

“There are some composers alive today who just seem to be uninterested in communicating to audiences because they compose such highbrow music that it’s not accessible. Kevin’s music, while having the greatest artistic integrity, is very accessible. It’s written in a language that we can all understand,” Mitchell says. “He’s also just a really cool guy and very articulate about his music. Orchestras love playing it and audiences love hearing it.”

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