December 26, 2000

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Eastman Office of Communications, 585-274-1050

ROCHESTER, NY – It’s been a rewarding semester for Eastman School of Music student composer Todd Coleman: Since September, the 29-year-old doctoral student has received a substantial commission and won an online composition competition – resulting in a total of $8,000.

In September, Coleman was one of eight composers from around the country who received a commission from the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University (where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1996). The $5,000 commission was awarded for his double bass concerto Shiva Sakthi. This 30-minute work for orchestra and double bass, which incorporates elements of Hindu philosophy and Indian musical techniques, was premiered in October by Ossia, Eastman’s student-run contemporary music group. It featured Eastman Professor of Double Bass James VanDemark as soloist and was performed again later in October by the University of Rochester Chamber Orchestra, also with VanDemark as soloist.

In November, Coleman was named the overall winner in a composing and arranging competition designed to promote the launch of scorchmusic.com – a new web site that lets users find, play, and print scores by living composers and arrangers, as well as publish and sell their own scores online. The site was launched by the Sibelius Group, makers of a leading music notation software. (As winner of this competition, Coleman is featured in the current issue of Siblings, a magazine for users of this software.)

Coleman’s winning composition – a three-minute choral work called Trees – was chosen from more than 1,500 entries. A simple yet spiritual piece set to the words of Joyce Kilmer’s famous poem with the same title, Coleman wrote the work because he was deeply touched by the message of the text, which he read just weeks before. The judges, which included film composer Michael Kamen, former Police guitarist Andy Summers, and composer (and Eastman graduate) Michael Torke, praised the work for its expressiveness and awarded Coleman the top prize of $3,000. Trees soon will be available for online printing at scorchmusic.com.

An Arizona native, Coleman received his master’s degree from Eastman in 1999. He currently resides in Brighton, NY, with his wife and three children (ages 5, 3, and 6 months) as he pursues his doctorate, studying composition with Associate Professor Augusta Read Thomas and double bass with Professor VanDemark. In addition to these recent honors, Coleman previously won the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s First Hearing Competition for his orchestral work Cryptic Crasis, which the Chicago Civic Orchestra premiered in April 1999. That work also took him to the finals of the Alexander Zemlinsky International Composition Competition the same year.

"Todd is a mature, thoughtful, and sensitive artist," said Thomas, who also is composer-in-residence for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. "He has a flair for line, color, and overall form. He’s a joy to teach."

Although he began composing in high school, Coleman did not begin formal music studies until age 21. Prior to college, he worked for two years with Laotian refugees in Minnesota as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ for Latter Day Saints.


Note to editors: A photo of Todd Coleman is available upon request.