Music Composition (Classical) – Steve Rouse, The Bird, the Bee, and the Bear The winner in Classical Music Composition is Steve Rouse of Louisville, Kentucky, for The Bird, the Bee, and the Bear. Rouse also won MIAL awards in this category in 2009, 2013, and 2019. He was trained as a modernist composer but also explored a wide range of world music and prefers freedom to compose whatever he chooses without boundaries or restrictions and loves to integrate diverse styles. Rouse was born in Moss Point, Mississippi, but spent the first six years of his life in Escatawpa before the family moved back to Moss Point. He felt a strong connection to the land in both places and considered them an exotic influence. He began composing and improvising at age five. As a teenager, he played bassoon in Gulf Coast Symphony for four years. After studying with Luigi Zaninelli at the University of Southern Mississippi, he earned his MM and DMA degrees from the University of Michigan. He has been professor of music composition at the University of Louisville School of Music since 1988. His many awards include the Rome Prize, a Meet the Composer residency, an NEA Composition Fellowship, two awards from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He is included in the millennium edition of Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Classical Music.
I am grateful and honored to receive the 2020 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters classical music award, and I wish that I could share my appreciation with each of you in person.
In a time when culture is being destroyed indiscriminately and without consideration, the work of the MIAL is more important than ever. Finding and promoting excellent Mississippi writers, artists, musicians, painters, thinkers, and those who support the arts and letters is critical work. The rich and unique heritage of Mississippi’s creators is worth saving and sharing.
Having reached a certain age, it becomes more obvious to me with each passing day that the miracle that is culture is fragile. MIAL’s work is that of a benevolent caretaker who not only appreciates and nurtures the work but understands its necessity.
Creators will always do what we do. We are compelled to do so. But the support we receive plays an important role in encouraging and sustaining our work. Thank you, MIAL!
Judge Chad Hughes commented, “I recommend Steve Rouse to win for his 'The Bird, the Bee, and the Bear.' Though everyone was phenomenal, Rouse's music was quite profound in compositional structure and motivic development. It was wonderful to see him capture the essence of these three creatures in a trio setting.”
Chad “Sir Wick” Hughes is a native of Detroit, Michigan, and currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is active as a composer, performer, and teacher. He holds degrees in composition from University of Michigan, Kansas State University, and a PhD from LSU. He has studied with William Bolcom, Bright Sheng, James Aikman, Dinos Constantinides, Erik Santos, Craig Weston, and Elainie Lillios.