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TODAY: CCA Dean's Convocation Features Grammy Award-Winning Composer

Thursday, Oct. 03, 2013

noted composer Libby Larsen is a guest speaker at Utah State Univeristy

Libby Larsen, one of America's most performed living composers, is the featured speaker at the fourth annual Dean’s Convocation Wednesday, Oct. 9, 11:30 a.m., in the Performance Hall on USU’s Logan campus. Free and open to the public.

Libby Larsen, one of America’s most performed living composers, presents “A Creative Life in Music” at the Caine College of the Arts’ fourth annual Dean’s Convocation Wednesday, Oct. 9, 11:30 a.m., in the Performance Hall on Utah State University’s Logan campus.

“The dean’s convocation has become one of the great traditions for the Caine College of the Arts,” said Craig Jessop, dean of the Caine College of the Arts (CCA). “Each year we have been able to bring distinguished scholars, artists and performers from around the nation to Utah State University. Libby Larsen continues in our tradition of excellence. It is a great honor to have her on our campus.”

The convocation is the Caine College of the Arts’ formal welcome to all students and provides an opportunity to meet faculty, staff and administration from the CCA.

As a Grammy Award-winning and widely recorded artist, Larsen is consistently sought after by major artists, ensembles and orchestras around the world. The first woman to serve as a resident composer with the Minnesota Orchestra, a major orchestra located in Minneapolis, Larsen has been a longtime advocate for women in the field of music. In addition, Larsen has been instrumental in music education, fueling a passion to bring new music out of academia by holding a number of residencies throughout the country. In addition to her 1994 Grammy Award, Larsen co-founded what is now known as the American Composers Forum in 1973, earned a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and has had the privilege to record with many world-renowned artists, including The King’s Singers, Benita Valente and Frederica von Stade.

“Credited with assembling some of the most impressive music of our time, Larsen uniquely presents contemporary opera in a way accessible to all audiences,” said Jessop.

Her opera, Frankenstein, The Modern Prometheus, was selected as one of the eight best classical music events of 1990 by USA Today. Larsen has also held the 2003-04 Harissios Papamarkou Chair in Education at the Library of Congress and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

“Larsen has found extreme success in an area historically dominated by men,” said James Bankhead, head of the Department of Music USU. “Her music reflects her personality. She’s energetic, vivacious and full of surprises. It’s beauty redefined.”

Cindy Dewey, director of voice and associate professor for the USU Music Department, said Larsen is unique and special. Her field is mostly dominated by men and even today most of these men, who wish to be composers, are obligated to teach theory and composition at a college or university in order to support themselves. Larsen has been able to earn her living solely as a composer.

One of Larsen’s song cycles, “Songs from Letters,” which sets texts from letters from Calamity Jane to her daughter, Janey, explores the challenges of being a woman who not only worked, but worked in a man’s field. In another cycle of songs, “Try Me Good King,” Larsen sets the last words of the six wives beheaded by Henry VIII, King of England, to music. Dewey said these are both interesting choices because they take the perspective of a female in a male-dominated world.

“As a singer, I am partial to her works for voices, because I agree with USA Today which called Larsen ‘the only English-speaking composer since Benjamin Britten who matches great verse with fine music so intelligently and expressively,’” said Dewey.

In addition to her USU address, two of Larsen’s pieces will be performed. “Two Happy Lovers,” the third movement from Three Love Songs, will be performed by Jaron Putnam, baritone, and John Price, piano. The second movement from Cowboys Songs, “Lift Me Into Heaven Slowly,” will be performed by Elizabeth Tate, soprano, and John Price, piano.

The Convocation is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the CCA Box Office located in room 139-B of the Chase Fine Arts Center on USU’s campus, call 435-797-8022 or see the college’s Production Services website.        

Related link:

USU Caine College of the Arts

Writer: Whitney Schulte, 435-797-9203,

Contact: Denise Albiston, 435-797-1500,

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