5 Questions for Composer Rob Smith

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The innovative and highly energetic music of Rob Smith is frequently performed throughout the United States and abroad. His music has received numerous awards, including those from the Aaron Copland House, ASCAP and the National Band Association. He has received commissions from the Texas Music Festival Orchestra, the New York Youth Symphony Chamber Music Program, the American Composers Forum, and several nationally renowned university wind ensembles, among many others. A wide variety of ensembles have performed his music, including the Ethel and Enso string quartets, Soli Chamber Ensemble, American Modern Ensemble, New World Symphony Percussion Consort, Singapore Wind Symphony Percussion Ensemble, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Standing Wave Chamber Ensemble (Canada) and the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra.

In 1997, he was the recipient of a Fulbright Grant to Australia, which led to a teaching position at the University of Wollongong in 1998. Commercial recordings of his music are available by the Society for New Music (Syracuse, NY), Rutgers University Wind Ensemble, saxophonist Jeremy Justeson, Austrian toy pianist Isabel Ettenauer, and the University of Houston and Texas Christian University Percussion Ensembles.

Currently, he teaches at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music where he is Associate Professor of Music Composition and director of the AURA Contemporary Ensemble. From 2003-2014 he served as one of the artistic directors of Musiqa, a Houston-based contemporary chamber ensemble. Currently, he teaches at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music where he is Associate Professor of Music Composition and director of the AURA Contemporary Ensemble. Boosey & Hawkes, Carl Fischer, Southern Music, C-Alan Publications, and Skitter Music Publications publish his music.


Rob Smith will join colleagues from across the globe at the 2016 Florida International Toy Piano Festival in January 2016 presented by The New Music Conflagration, Inc.

1) How did you first become interested in the toy piano as a concert instrument?
I was commissioned by Isabel Ettenauer, an Austrian toy pianist.

2) What influenced you to come to the festival?
Since purchasing a toy piano so my toy piano works could be performed in Houston, I have programmed a number of works for toy piano with my ensemble, and I am always looking for more.

3) Who is your favorite toy piano composer and why?
I don’t have a favorite, but I particularly admire the terrific, idiomatic works Stephen Montague, HyeKyung Lee, Joe Cutler and Karlheinz Essl have written for the toy piano. 

4) What do you see as the future of toy piano?
In the last 20 years the toy piano repertoire has grown exponentially, and I feel it will continue to grow as a solo instrument, in chamber ensembles and with electronics.

5) What local place or thing are you most excited to experience during your visit to the Tampa Bay Area for the festival?
The Tampa Museum of Art – I am a big fan of contemporary art!



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