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February 23, 2019, Reading Session


CUSO Congratulates Composers Selected for the Reading Session!

The Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra is pleased to announce the selection of three new works for the February 23rd Music Alive Composers Institute Reading Session! The winners are:

Stephen CaldwellSummer Soiree: Prelude II
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, doctoral student

Hunter ChangMemories of Tragedy and Hope
Northwestern University, undergraduate student

Brian HinkleyOf Love and Distance
Illinois State University, master’s student

These composers will have their works rehearsed and performed by the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra in a Reading Session on Saturday, February 23, 2019, from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. This event is free and the public is invited to attend to see the dynamic process used to bring new orchestral music to life. Maestro Stephen Alltop will conduct the orchestra through each of the three composers’ pieces, and Dr. Stacy Garrop will introduce the composer to the audience prior to the orchestra’s rehearsing of each work. Both Maestro Alltop and Dr. Garrop will provide feedback to the composer during the session. There will be a brief question-and-answer session with each composer and the audience after the reading of the composer’s piece.

Event details:
CUSO Music Alive Composers Institute Reading Session
Saturday, February 23, 2019
1:00–3:30 p.m.
I Hotel & Conference Center
Illinois Ballroom
1900 S. First Street
Champaign, IL 61820
Free admission. Complimentary beverages and food will be served.

For more information, please contact Gerri Kirchner at music@cusymphony.org

Selected Composers

Stephen Caldwell
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, doctoral student

Illinois-based composer Stephen Caldwell has been fascinated with writing music since the tender age of seven. Upon graduating with a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from The University of Akron in 2016, Stephen (with the support of his wife and family) made a seismic career shift by pursuing a master of music degree from the University of Toledo in composition. Studying under Lee Heritage, Stephen acted as composer and sound designer for three UT theater productions. These works established a dramatic and narrative-based aspect to Stephen’s writing, which earned him top honors in the UT Composition Competition of 2018 for his song “Sanctuary in Flight.” With a strong focus on vocal song and orchestral music, his writing frequently blends both old and new styles together—utilizing each for their unique qualities. Currently studying for his Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA) under composer Erik Lund at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Stephen has been enjoying the wealth of performance opportunities at such a large and well-connected school. As such, the Illinois Modern Ensemble gave a reading of his new work “The Remarkable Agony of Lady Compassion,” which is a sprawling and polystylistic work for sinfonietta. Earlier this year, a student trio performed “She Dreams in Emerald” for the annual 24-Hour Compose-A-Thon on campus. Stephen is elated to have his music selected by the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, and he looks forward to learning from them throughout the Composers Institute.


Hunter Chang
Northwestern University, undergraduate student

Hunter Chang is a film and concert music composer from Chicago, Illinois, presently working out of both Chicago, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California. He currently studies at Northwestern University, majoring in Music Composition, Economics, and Mathematics, as well as pursuing a minor in Commercial Music, a minor in Music Technology, and a Certificate from the Kellogg School of Management in Financial Economics.

As a film composer, he has scored over twenty short films, independent projects, full-length feature films, festival works, and other multimedia projects that have been premiered across multiple major cities. He is a four-time recipient of the Wyatt Fund Composition Grant for multiple different film scores and concert pieces. He also received the University Sponsored Grant from Northwestern to record an original film score in New York City.

As a concert music composer, Chang has been featured on over a dozen Northwestern University concert programs, readings, and recordings. His pieces have been performed by Northwestern University’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Northwestern University’s Contemporary Music Ensemble, other student ensembles, and one of the largest student organized orchestras in Northwestern history, “103 Musicians,” conducted by Hunter himself. His music has also been commissioned for or performed at the Music Institute of Chicago, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and New Trier High School Commencement Concert, and various other events and venues. Chang’s piece, Alone, has been performed and recorded by the Grammy-winning choir, The Crossing.

Since he had one of his early pieces premiered at the age of 16, featuring multiple choirs, orchestra, organ, and bell choir, he has been captivated by composing for large ensembles. This, combined with his love of cinematic music, has played an instrumental role in the composition of Memories of Tragedy and Hope. Hunter is extremely grateful and excited to have the incredible CUSO play this piece.


Brian Hinkley
Illinois State University, master’s student

Brian J. Hinkley is a composer whose works include a wide variety of unique genres and styles, characterized by expansive harmonies and driving intensity. Brian holds a degree in Piano Performance from Augustana College (Rock Island, IL), where he studied with Jacob Bancks (composition) and Robert Elfline (piano). Brian is currently completing his master’s degree at Illinois State University, where he works as a Theory and Composition graduate assistant and studies composition with Martha Horst, Roy Magnuson, Carl Schimmel, and Roger Zare.

While studying at Augustana College, Brian won the inaugural Augustana In-House Composer Competition with Paragon, a single-movement work for wind band premiered in May 2017 by the Augustana Symphonic Band. Brian has premiered works on several recitals at Augustana College as well as the biannual Music Factory concerts at Illinois State. His works have also been read by the Del Sol Quartet, Ensemble Dal Niente, the Illinois State University Wind Symphony, and the ISU Concert Choir.

As a pianist, Brian has given multiple solo recitals and has performed with several ensembles, including the ISU Jazz Ensemble I, Augustana Symphonic Band, Augustana Symphony Orchestra, and Augustana Jazz Ensemble, among others. You can listen to many of his compositions at www.brianjhinkley.com as well as other performances on SoundCloud through the link on his website.


The Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra Music Alive Composers Institute is a program associated with the residency of composer Stacy Garrop, and is made possible by New Music USA. Major funding is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The Amphion Foundation, The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund, the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.