Steven C. Smith, composer
Steven C. Smith enjoys a varied musical career as composer, conductor, and violinist. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in performance, with a minor in composition, from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. His composition teachers included Gerald Plain and Douglas Borwick; and electronic and computer sound synthesis with Allan Schindler. In addition, he has been coached by such notable composers as Joseph Schwantner and William Bolcom; and as a violinist, he has worked with those composers as well as Hans Werner Henze, Samuel Adler, Mario Davidosky, Leon Kirchner, and Sydney Hodkinson in preparation for performances of their works.
Mr. Smith served as concertmaster of the Grand Rapids Symphony (Michigan) from 1985 to 1988. It was during this time that he composed his first work for orchestra, Quattro Contro. The work was highly praised by Music Director Catherine Comet and was performed by that Orchestra in two consecutive seasons. After leaving his concertmaster position in order to pursue his composition and conducting interests, Mr. Smith received a commission from the Grand Rapids Symphony to write a work for viola and cello soloists with orchestra. His subsequent Concerto for Viola, Cello and Orchestra was premiered on March 2, 1989 and was given a total of five performances by them in Grand Rapids and the West Michigan area. He is the recipient of awards and grants from the American Music Center and the State of Michigan Sesquicentennial Commission. Compositions for small ensembles by Mr. Smith have also been performed in Michigan, New York, North Carolina and Ohio.
Steven Smith's first professional musical experiences were devoted to violin performances. In addition to the Grand Rapids Symphony, he has been the concertmaster of the Colorado Philharmonic and Heidelberg Opera Festival Orchestra (West Germany); and has appeared as soloist with the Toledo Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, Colorado Philharmonic, Warren Symphony (Michigan) and on Syzygy, an new music series in Houston, Texas. In 1985, he became a member of the Chautauqua Symphony, an orchestra with a summer season only, and continues to perform with them annually. His conducting studies have included private sessions with Walter Hendl, and participation in Gunther Schuller's conducting class at the Festival at Sandpoint and Pierre Monteux Memorial School for Conductors with Charles Bruck. Mr. Smith has conducted performances with the Grand Rapids Symphony and a variety of ensembles in Grand Rapids and Rochester, New York.
December 9, 1989
Works Performed by the HSO
Quattro Contro is a work in four short movements, played without pause. The first movement ``Whisper'', deals mainly with quiet sustained gestures contrasted with pointed ostinato figures (repeating motives), within the framework of a soft dynamic level. The second movement, ``Aktion'', is a German word meaning campaign or action, and becomes considerably more lively. The third movement, ``Dirge'', is funeral music, and the final movement, ``La Chasse'' (French for `the hunt' or `the chase'), is a fast dance-like finale. One primary melodic fragment appears in various guises throughout each movement of the piece.
The title is a play on the Italian words meaning `four' and `against', that is, four movements with various inner conflicts, such as the ambiguity of major and minor thirds, and also in the tension between the frequently changing instrumental groupings. Orchestral color plays an important role in the piece.
Quattro Contro was written at the request of Catherine Comet, Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony, and has been performed by that orchestra on several occasions.