Don Freund named 2013 IMTA Teacher of the Year

Editors note: As is customary with this annual presentation, the previous Teacher of the Year introduces the current recipient in a way that attempts to keep the identity of the recipient “secret” as long as possible. These are the comments read by 2012 Teacher of the Year, Bill Hughes.

This individual is described as a “total musician.”That musicianship is expressed in a variety of ways.

This very talented pianist’s performances have been described as “top notch.” This person’s playing displays finely developed technique and keen stylistic understanding in performances in a broad range of styles—from very early music through Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier to music written “yesterday.” This individual’s playing of recently composed music displays “intense energy” and a keen understanding of the music’s idioms and structures.

This teacher is considered to be a superb role model for students and is highly regarded by colleagues. This individual has also made instruction available to the larger musical community on an interesting and well-done website. This dedicated person’s teaching is described as organized, imaginative, and effective. That effectiveness is demonstrated by the fact that several of this teacher’s students have gone on to serve as faculty members in institutions of higher education and have received many awards and honors in their own careers.

Speaking of awards and honors: This individual’s work has garnered numerous such awards and honors in this country and internationally. This year’s Teacher of the Year happens to have grown up in a part of the eastern United States in which I was born and spent the first years of my life. (but I don’t think that is a requirement for consideration). This person came to Hoosier-land in the early 90s and soon became recognized as a major force in the musical life of one of our fine universities.

As a pianist, a conductor, a lecturer, a presenter of workshops, and a participator and an organizer of festivals in this country, and in Europe, Asia, and South America, this individual has tirelessly promoted new music—including some of his own compositions.

OK, OK, this year’s Teacher of the Year is a composer—and a very prolific, powerful, and adept composer of music in a broad array of genres and for a variety of instrumental and vocal combinations. His compositions have been described as “thoughtful in approach and imaginative in style” and also as “exciting, amusing, disturbing, beautiful, and always fascinating.” Compositions produced during a career of more than four decades have been performed in many prestigious venues, including Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, and the Kennedy Center. Among his numerous awards is a 2005 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship that he received for one of his works. Many of his compositions are available on commercial CDs.

Though he is an accomplished teacher of composition at all levels, he has a particular mission to guide young undergraduate composers, especially freshmen, in their first forays as serious composers. Students come from his studio with a solid craft, careful technical training, and a healthy dose of practicality, but without any fetters on their compositional imaginations. In the 30 year period from 1980 until 2010 no fewer than NINE of his students have been national winners of MTNA’s collegiate or high school composition competitions.

In case you do not yet know who this individual is, here is one final clue: Were he to perform or present in Germany, he could accurately be introduced as a true “Friend of Music”, Ein Freund der Musik.

Please join me in celebrating and honoring our 2013 IMTA Teacher of the Year, a member of the composition faculty of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Don Freund.

Posted in Conference, Teacher of the Year.