Title/Position: Assistant Professor of Professional Practice, Theory and CompositionProfile:
What was the pivotal moment in your life, or what inspired you to become a composer?
First and foremost, I have to thank my father for inciting my musical curiosity. He is one of those musicians who despite never having any formal training could play many instruments. In fact, whatever he could blow into, he could play! Saxophones, trumpets, clarinets and flutes were the permanent fixtures in our household. I remember him sitting at the radio and waiting for a tune he wanted to practice with his band that week. As a capellmeister, it was most natural for him to transcribe all its parts. What an incredible inspiration!
Growing up in Slovakia, I also had a great privilege to be a piano student of Alena Komorasova who further nurtured my love for music. Her uncompromisable commitment to the highest excellence, incredible knowledge of the repertoire and eclectic taste largely contributed to the formation of my musical persona. While improvising was always a part of my creative piano routines, it was not until I took composition lessons with Beth Wiemann during my undergraduate studies at the University of Maine that the call to write my own music clearly manifested itself. My heart was sold. My graduate composition studies enabled me to explore composing with technologies and for theater and dance. There was no return!
What would you say are your most memorable professional moments, to date?
Being a finalist at the Gaudeamus Prize in Amsterdam was tremendously inspiring. I had an opportunity to mingle with the most intriguing musical minds from around the world and hear some of the most exciting contemporary music. Winning the first prize at the Eastman’s International Electroacoustic Music Competition was also greatly stimulating. What an unexpected gift it was to meet Jean-Claude Risset, one of the electronic music pioneers during my award reception visit at Eastman. Risset’s humble yet firm commitment to the field deeply touched me and reminded me what in incredible privilege it is to be a music professional.
What do you hope to pass onto your students?
In our fast-paced world, it is impertinent to maintain the focus on and commitment to what one loves: music in our case. While the life may take unexpected turns, it is crucial to remember that joy one experiences from making music. Music has the power to enrich our existence and influence the lives of those around us in a profound way. To be a professional musician is a tremendous gift. Our responsibility is to develop this gift and share it with the society.
My hope is to gently guide the students as they develop their talents and search for their place in the world.
Why should a prospective student choose the University of Miami Frost School of Music?
The Frost School of Music is a unique institution in which the students can explore the multifaceted nature of the contemporary musicianship. If you are looking for a school that nurtures bold ideas, expects only the highest quality of scholarship and musicianship, provides an experience with cutting-edge technologies and promotes interest in entrepreneurship, you find it all here! Lastly, let’s not forget the school’s marvelous location. Miami is the multicultural center of America’s subtropics. Studying here makes the experience that much richer.
Juraj Kojs is assistant professor of professional practice in the Department of Music Theory and Composition at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. A Slovakian composer, performer, multimedia artist, producer, researcher and educator permanently residing in the United States, his compositions have received international awards and acclaim from the Goethe Institute’s A Sound Panorama (Germany), Eastman’s International Electroacoustic Music Competition (2006), the Digital Art Award (Japan), Miami New Times’ Best Art Performance Award (2010) and more. His muscle-powered multimedia Neraissance is described as “striking and unforgettable,” and his interactive work Signals is called “enthralling and immersive.” Kojs has received commissions from Meet the Composer, Harvestworks, Miami Light Project, and others. His research articles have been published in journals such as Organised Sound, Digital Creativity, Leonardo Music Journal, Journal of New Music Research and International Journal of Arts and Technology. Kojs is the director of the Foundation for Emerging Technologies and Arts (FETA). He holds a Ph.D. in Composition and Computer Technologies from University of Virginia. Kojs has previously taught in the Medialogy Department at Aalborg University (Copenhagen, Denmark), as well as at Yale University, University of Virginia and Miami International University of Art and Design.