ROCHESTER, NY — Award-winning composer and lyricist Charles Strouse — perhaps best known for his smash hit musical Annie — will return to his alma mater, the Eastman School of Music, next month to address the School’s graduating class of 2003. The annual commencement ceremony for undergraduate and master’s degree students will begin at 11:30 a.m., Sunday, May 18, 2003, in Eastman Theatre, 60 Gibbs St. (The doctoral commencement ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 17.)
This year, University of Rochester President Thomas H. Jackson will preside over the Eastman ceremony, during which nearly 200 students will receive their degrees. In addition, Strouse will receive the School’s Alumni Achievement Award and there will be a special student performance of a song cycle written by the composer in the 1950s for tenor and piano. The three works include The Smile, The Fly, and Pastoral — a work dedicated to acclaimed American composer and Rochester resident David Diamond.
"We are honored to have one of our most prominent and successful alumni return to the School and share his insights and wisdom with our graduating class," said Eastman School Director and Dean James Undercofler.
Since the 1950s, Strouse — who received his bachelor’s degree from Eastman in 1947 — has composed the scores to some of Broadway’s most successful and enduring musicals, in addition to several well-known movie scores, concert music, and opera. A true crossover artist with strong classical roots, Strouse is a three-time Tony Award winner — honored for his first Broadway classic Bye Bye Birdie (1960); Applause (1970); and Annie (1977). He also won an Emmy Award in 1996 for outstanding individual achievement in music and lyrics. A recipient of the coveted ASCAP Richard Rodgers Award for his achievement in musical theater, Strouse also has been honored by the American Theater Wing and elected to the Theater Hall of Fame.