Title/Position: Professor, Chair, Music Composition and TheoryProfile:
What would you say are the outstanding highlights of your professional life?
I have been a very lucky person and can think of so many highlights of my professional life including premieres, awards, and commissions such that the term “highlight” loses its meaning. But thinking about what created the most change I can narrow down those events to four:
—The first probably was winning the BMI award as a student composer. It was the first time I had ever visited New York and put a created an identity shift that gave me more confidence in what I was writing.
—The second was receiving the National Endowment of the Arts Composition award as it was the first national non-student award I received and provided funds for me to participate in several residencies including June in Buffalo.
—The third was winning the Rome Prize. This had a significant impact on my career as I was able to have daily meals with some of the most interesting and creative minds the arts which stimulated my own growth as a composer.
—The final highlight was being awarded the alumnus of the year award by the Frost School of Music. It had been many years since I had visited the campus and I was thrilled to see the quality of the facilities, the faculty, and the students… so much so, that I applied for this position soon after my visit.
Why did you choose music as your career?
I chose music because it provided me with a positive quality of life. I believe that when a person finds what gives their life meaning and fulfillment, that is what they should do. I was willing to deliver newspapers at 4:00 am and load watermelons on a truck in the afternoon to be able to compose. If someone asked me to do that to be able to practice law I would have balked.
Why should a potential student choose the University of Miami?
The multitude of options and directions provided by UM means that a student can continue to grow and develop and find new pathways for their music. The quality of faculty available for teaching the student is outstanding.
How were you influenced by your teachers?
Dennis Kam taught me to explore. John Melby taught me to examine. Sal Martirano taught me to add a pianissimo bass drum tap to the entrance of a tuba.
What do you expect from students at the Frost School of Music?
Hard work, dedication, and joy.
What’s on your iPod?
Piano Concerto No. 3 by John Melby
The Bergonzi String Quartet: For Bergonzi Four featuring works by Sleeper, Macelaru, Kam, Fuchs, and Flavin
Dorothy Hindman: Drift for Saxophone Quartet
Gerard Grisey: Les Espaces Acoustiques
Tristan Murail: Winter Fragments Learning Spanish
Lansing Mcloskey: Wild Bells - Fiery Trials
...and lots of my own music
Answer the statement, “Music is…”
Music is not just string theory, but the theory of everything.
Charles Mason, composer, is professor of music and chair of the Department of Theory and Composition at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. He has received many awards for his compositions including the American Composers Orchestra “Playing it Unsafe” prize, the 2005 Rome Prize, the Premi Internacional de Composició Musical Ciutat de Tarragona Orchestra Music prize, and a National Endowment of the Arts Individual Artist Award. He was named 2009 Distinguished Alumnus by the Frost School of Music. His music has been performed worldwide including the FORO INTERNACIONAL DE MUSICA NUEVA in Mexico City, the Quirinale in Rome, the Aspen Summer Music Festival, and the Nuova Musica Consonante in Romani and broadcast over RAI radio throughout Italy and on NPR’s “Performance Today.” Dr. Mason has received commissions from many top ranked ensembles including American Composers Orchestra, DUO 46, Miami String Quartet, Gregg Smith Singers, Dale Warland Singers, Corona Guitar Kvartet, ONIX (Mexico), Luna Nova, bassist Robert Black, violinist Karen Bentley Pollick, New York Golliard Ensemble, and cellists Madeleine Shapiro, Craig Hultgren, and Jeffrey Solow to name a few. He completed his DMA and MM in composition at the University of Illinois and BM with honors from the University of Miami. In 2005 he was a composer in residence at the International Centre for Composers in Visby, Sweden and twice sponsored by the Seaside Institute as an “Escape To Create” composer-in-residence. For more information please see his website: http://www.charlesnormanmason.com