Jack Szczuka Named First-Prize Winner of the 2022 NOTUS Student Composition Contest
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 13, 2021
IU Jacobs School of Music – Bloomington, IN
Jack Szczuka has been named the first-prize winner of this year’s NOTUS Student Composition Contest.
Jack Szczuka is a composer who is currently a 2nd-year undergraduate student at Indiana University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Music and an Outside Field in Central Eurasian Studies with a language track in Uzbek. He has also been accepted into the Russian Flagship Program at Indiana University. He currently studies composition with P.Q. Phan.
Szczuka’s first-prize work is Birga-Birga Boramiz for mixed chorus a cappella. Of the work, he says: “Birga-Birga Boramiz is a piece that sets text from the ancient Central Asian dastan (epic), Alpomish, specifically the transcription from Fozil Yo’ldoshog’li. … In the epic, Alpomish is a valiant hero who has to overcome contests and enemies to win over his bride, and then returns home to save his family from corruption. While the setting is in modern-day Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Russia, this epic is famous across all of Central Asia, and is linked to the story of Bamsı Beyrek in Turkey.”
NOTUS will give the world premiere of Szczuka’s work on Sunday, April 3, 2022 in Auer Concert Hall at 4pm as part of the concert program “Kurt Vonnegut @ 100: The Vonnegut Requiem,” a multi-composer work featuring the music of Moira Smiley, Cary Boyce, Dale Trumbore, Stacy Garrop, Gabriel Lubell, Lauren Bernofsky, Malcolm Dalglish and IU Jacobs School of Music Professor of Composition Don Freund.
The judges did not award any additional prizes or honorable mentions this year.
Judges for the competition included Brent Gault, Professor of Music (Music Education), Walter Huff, Professor of Music (Choral Conducting) and Director of Opera Choruses, and Chi Wang, Assistant Professor of Music (Composition: Electronic and Computer Music) and Associate Director of the Center for Electronic and Computer Music.
The Contest is an initiative of Dominick DiOrio, professor of music and director of NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. DiOrio did not take part in the judging panel. The submission of scores was anonymous and the judges did not see names or identifying information until after final decisions were made. The annual competition is open to all current undergraduate and graduate students at the Jacobs School of Music.
Jack Szczuka (born 2001) is a composer who is currently a 2nd-year undergraduate student at Indiana University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Music and an Outside Field in Central Eurasian Studies with a language track in Uzbek. He has also been accepted into the Russian Flagship Program at Indiana University. Szczuka participated in the 2019 High School Composition Intensive at Boston Conservatory. He was the 1st place winner of the Cape Fear New Music Festival’s inaugural High School Composition Competition, hosted by Methodist University. His arrangement of the Kazakh folk song “Közimning Qarasy” was presented at the 175th Anniversary of Abay Qunanbaiuly Event jointly hosted by Indiana University’s Wells Library and Nazarbayev University in Nursultan, Kazakhstan.
Szczuka currently studies with Prof. P. Q. Phan at Indiana University. Previously, he studied with Dr. Don Freund at Indiana University and Dr. John Supko at Duke University. Much of Szczuka’s music draws influence from regional music traditions, especially from Central Asia. In addition to that inspiration, other major influences to his work are Arvo Pärt, and Mily Balakirev. He was a participant of the 2018 East Carolina Piano Festival, where he got to work with famous pianists such as Peter Frankl.
Szczuka’s current projects include a series of vocal works setting the text of the ancient Central Asian epic Alpomish in Uzbek and an oboe quartet inspired by the folk music and evolution of tonality in Western Europe.