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COMPOSER SHOWCASE

Donald Steven: Biography

Donald Steven
1945 -
Region: Québec

Donald Steven

Donald Steven is an award-winning composer whose works have been performed on four continents. Now making his home in the United States, Mr. Steven is a native of Canada, where he won the Jules-Léger Prize for Chamber Music and the JUNO Award for “Best Classical Composition” from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, considered to be among the highest honors for composers in Canada. Mr. Steven has also been nominated for the “Composer of the Year” Award from the Canadian Music Council and has won the Golden Jubilee Creative Arts Award from the Canadian Federation of University Women.

His music has been played throughout the world, including the World Music Days of the International Society for Contemporary Music and the World Cello Congress, and has been performed by major artists and orchestras, including contralto Maureen Forrester, cellist Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, contrabassist Bertram Turetzky, shakuhachi recording artist Alcvin Ramos, l’orchestre symphonique de Montréal, New Music Concerts of Toronto, the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec, the Pierrot Ensemble, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. One of his more recent chamber works, ô, to make dreames true, was commissioned by the ensemble Newband and the Harry Partch Instrumentarium and premiered as part of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s “American Roots Festival”. In addition to classical music, Mr. Steven has a background as a performer and arranger in folk and rock music playing 12-string guitar and five-string banjo, and has worked as an arranger for, among others, the McGarrigle Sisters, Stan Rogers, and Graham Townsend.

He has held fellowships from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Québec, and Princeton University, and received grants from the McGill Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, the Ontario Arts Council, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, and the New York State Council on the Arts.

Mr. Steven received his M.F.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University (where he studied with, among others, Milton Babbitt and Steven Mackey) and his Bachelor of Music degree from McGill University. He taught composition, electronic and computer music, and orchestration at the University of Western Ontario and McGill before becoming dean of the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College (SUNY) and, subsequently, Dean of Roosevelt University’s School of the Performing Arts and the Chicago Musical College where he championed the development of its Orchestral Training Program and developed a faculty comprised of many the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s principal players. At McGill he was successively Head of the Composition Area and Chair of the Department of Performance and was involved in the modernization of the Electronic Music Studio and the evolution of computer music studies.

Mr. Steven has served as a member of the Educational Board of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Artistic Director of the Thayer Fellowship in the Arts, Composer-in-Residence at the Courtenay Youth Music Festival, and on many juries, including the Shanghai International Radio Festival and as Chairman of the International Jury for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Competition for Young Composers.

In addition to his professional work in music, Mr. Steven has served in a number of senior academic administrative positions. He recently retired as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Rider University, where he was also professor of composition at Westminster Choir College.

March 2018

Centrestreams

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