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The music of Curtis Rumrill (née Dahn) explores the intersection of literary form and modern chamber music. His works with writer, naturalist and visual artist Webberly Ebberly Finnich (née Zachary Webber) tell stories of animals in desperate or violent predicaments that seek to shed light on the human condition. He is also the composer of instrumental chamber music with and without electronics, works for tape, and studio compositions (multi-track fixed media works composed on acoustic instruments played primarily by himself).

In 2015 Ensemble Dal Niente featured his piece The Parasite, and Her Sister on their tour of Latin America. Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble will take on tour his recently completed concert-length work, The Passion of the Wilt-Mold Mothers, and will give it a studio recording. His music has been premiered and performed by, among others, Ensemble Dal Niente, Tony Arnold, Thomas Rosenkranz, Aiyun Huang, Jordan Dodson, Alia Musica, the Syracuse University Contemporary Music Ensemble, Lisa Cella and Juna Winston. Alia Musica has treated both Sex Poem for Lightbulb by Beetle and Rover to studio recordings, the recording of Rover featuring Tony Arnold and Anna Elder as soloists. SUR Syracuse University released a recording of Sketch for Guitar (performed by the composer) on the CD Live from Setnor Auditorium.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette featured the premiere of The Passion of the Wilt-Mold Mothers on their list of 10 ways to whet your musical appetite this year in Pittsburgh, and described his piece, Rover, as offering “intriguing melodies and fanciful vignettes within the elegant (yes, elegant — bass drum solos come to mind)” in their review of the 2016 Pittsburgh Festival of New Music.

He has been performed in the United States and internationally, including Vienna, Austria; Basel and Baden, Switzerland; Maccagno, Italy; Panama City, Panama; Bogota, Colombia; Mexico City, Mexico; Boston, MA; Bowling Green, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; and Syracuse, NY, in venues including the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Teatro Amador and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Panama, the University of Pittsburgh; Syracuse Univerity; Bowling Green State University; and Boston University. Works of his have been included in the Pittsburgh Festival of New Music, JazzWerkstatt Wien, Vienna Roomservice Festival, Numu: Neue und Unentdeckte Musik, the soundSCAPE Festival, and Alia Musica Presents.

Along with Andres Carrizo and Lilliana Carrizo in 2013 he co-founded MusicArte Panama, a bi-annual new music festival in Panama City, Panama, which seeks to establish Panama as a meeting place for Latin American new music. Past featured composers include Mario Lavista, Ileana Pérez-Velazquez, Carlos Sanchez Gutierrez and Valentín Pelisch. Featured ensembles and performers include Ensemble Dal Niente, Grupo Paisaxe, Alia Musica, Graciela “Chelín” Núñez and the soundSCAPE Trio.

He is also Board Chair of Alia Musica, a Pittsburgh based New Music ensemble and presenting organization. During his tenure on the board the organization has produced two New Music festivals, presented three solo recitals by Frederic Rzewski (including the New York Times 10 Best Classical Events of 2015 performance of The People United will Never Be Defeated at Wholey’s Fish Market), performed nationally and internationally, kept a regular season of concerts, recitals, and presentations of touring musicians, and in 2015/16 hosted Ken Ueno for an extended residency including the Pittsburgh premiere of On a Sufficient Condition for the Existence of Most Specific Hypothesis (concerto for overtone singer and orchestra), and commissioned and premiered a new work by Ueno, Sawdust on Ararat for flute, oboe, clarinet, 2 cellos, and 2 percussionists.

He is the past web designer for Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts, and since 2011 has been the web designer for soundSCAPE Festival in Italy and is in the process of designing a website for Frederic Rzewski.

Aside from his work in New Music, Rumrill is a committed activist for social justice. This work, a constant over the last decade and a half, has taken many forms. He has worked to end the abuses of sweatshops in the overseas production of apparel. He was an advocate on behalf of himself and others who were arrested at the Republican National Convention in 2000. He worked with residents of the Southside community in Syracuse to confront the County’s racially biased plans to demolish homes to build a sewage treatment facility. He worked with public housing residents in New Orleans after Katrina, as they tried to return to their homes. As a Union Organizer he has worked with healthcare workers to form unions, and to confront their employers over long-standing abuses and dangerous conditions for patients. Eventually he became the Western Pennsylvania Staff Representative for this Union, representing over 900 healthcare workers, bargaining contracts and leading strikes.

As to the role of the musical arts in the work for social justice, for him this remains an outstanding question, and is possibly even the question at the heart of his work, though he has found so far that the answer cannot be approached directly, as good art (which is, of course, that to which he aspires) follows the path of truth, not politics.

Rumrill is currently composing The Triptych, a concert length work for trombone and tape, composed collaboratively with Juna Winston, the first two movements of which have been completed and preformed in Europe and the United States. Upon completion the work will be toured and given a studio recording.

He graduated magna cum laude, BMus from Syracuse University, (composition, music history minor, performance honors in guitar), and completed his MM Bowling Green State University. He is a member of the American Composer’s Forum, New Music USA and Society of Composers, Inc. and is represented by BMI. His primary composition teachers have been Elainie Lillios, Christopher Dietz, Kyle Gann, Daniel Strong Godfrey, Sally Lamb McCune and Patrick Long.


Short Bio

The music of Curtis Rumrill (née Dahn) explores the intersection of literary form and modern chamber music. His works with writer, naturalist and visual artist Webberly Ebberly Finnich (née Zachary Webber) tell stories of animals in desperate or violent predicaments that seek to shed light on the human condition. He is also the composer of instrumental chamber music with and without electronics, works for tape, and studio compositions (multi-track fixed media works composed on acoustic instruments played primarily by himself).

In 2015 Ensemble Dal Niente featured his piece The Parasite, and Her Sister on their tour of Latin America. Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble will take on tour his recently completed concert-length work, The Passion of the Wilt-Mold Mothers, and will give it a studio recording. His music has been premiered and performed by, among others, Tony Arnold, Thomas Rosenkranz, Aiyun Huang, Jordan Dodson, the Syracuse University Contemporary Music Ensemble, Lisa Cella and Juna Winston. Alia Musica has treated both Sex Poem for Lightbulb by Beetle and Rover to studio recordings.

He has been performed in the United States and internationally, including Vienna, Austria; Basel and Baden, Switzerland; Maccagno, Italy; Panama City, Panama; Bogota, Colombia; Mexico City, Mexico; Boston, MA; Bowling Green, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; and Syracuse, NY, in venues including the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Teatro Amador and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Panama, the University of Pittsburgh; Syracuse Univerity; Bowling Green State University; and Boston University. Works of his have been included in the Pittsburgh Festival of New Music, JazzWerkstatt Wien, Vienna Roomservice Festival, Numu: Neue und Unentdeckte Musik, the soundSCAPE Festival, and Alia Musica Presents.

In 2013 he co-founded MusicArte Panama, a bi-annual new music festival in Panama City, Panama. He is also Board Chair of Alia Musica, a Pittsburgh based New Music ensemble and presenting organization. Since 2011 he has been the web designer for soundSCAPE Festival in Italy and is in the process of designing a website for Frederic Rzewski.

He holds a BMus in composition from Syracuse University and a MM in composition from Bowling Green State University. His primary composition teachers have been Elainie Lillios, Christopher Dietz, Kyle Gann, Daniel Strong Godfrey, Sally Lamb McCune and Patrick Long.