Work which received its world premiere at UCLA wins 2018 Global Music Awards Gold Medal

2 min read

American composer Earl Louis Stewart has won a 2018 Global Music Awards Gold Medal in the category Counterpoint Classical/Jazz for his composition Homage to Swing (Identity 158), which received its world premiere at Schoenberg Hall on February 5, 2017. The four movement symphony, which represents the merging of swing with traditional symphonic design, was the final work on Swinging to a World of Strings, an inter-departmental orchestra concert programed by Professor Cheryl L. Keyes to highlight world music traditions.

The concert, Keyes wrote, “celebrates culture and commemorates those musical bards who have left an indelible impression on how we listen, dance, and groove to music from around the globe.”

Conducted by Professor Neal Stulberg, the concert program showcased the depth and breadth of talent across the school in both composition and performance. UCLA students formed a 50-plus-piece orchestra, performing work by Keyes, professors Munir Beken and Steven Loza, and others. Guest performers included Suzanna Guzman, mezzo soprano; Niccolo Seligmann, viola da gamba, and Andrew Connell, clarinet, as well as Keyes (piano), Beken (Turkish ud), and Professor Qi Li (erhu).

WATCH the entire concert or find Homage to Swing at marker 1:34:30. The concert program is below.

Swinging to a World of Strings
Neal Stulberg, Conductor
Produced by Cheryl L. Keyes


Part I
Celebration: Music that celebrates five countries: United States, Mexico, England, Turkey, and China

America Tropical by Steven Loza
Suzanna Guzman, mezzo soprano

Concerto for Turkish Ud [Los Angeles Premiere] by Munir Beken
Munir Beken, Turkish ud

“The Spirit of Gamba” by Tobias Hume
Niccolo Seligmann, viola da gamba

Erhu Concerto No. 1 by Guan Naizhong
Qi Li, erhu


Part II
Tribute: Music that celebrates music legends, music-makers and US icons of swing

“Sleeping with the Enemy” & “Moondays” (A Tribute to Lady Day) by Cheryl L. Keyes
Cheryl L. Keyes, vocalist/pianist/arranger/orchestrator

Musique d’Afrique Nouvelle Orleans, Suite No. 3 by Alvin Batiste (orchestral adaptation and arrangement by Cheryl L. Keyes)
Andrew Connell, clarinet

Homage to Swing, Symphony in G Major, 1.158 [World Premiere] by Earl Louis Stewart

Program note for Homage to Swing:

Homage to Swing is an essay in contemplative jazz. It is a symphony written in four movements and is designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of jazz written in traditional European formative paradigms.

Movement I features a traditional swing theme written in sonata allegro design. It is contrasted with a lively, rhythmic secondary theme.

Movement II, a multi-cultural fugue, features a fugal theme that traverses many styles while maintaining the same beat. It opens with a non-syncopated exposition, progressing to a bossa nova, then to a ragtime, a swing, a salsa, back to a swing, then to a lively African ngoma (an African dance), and a final swing. The movement closes in a style reminiscent of the opening. Third movements of traditional classical symphonies are usually some type of dance, e.g., minuet and trio, scherzo, or waltz.

In keeping with this tradition, Movement Ill features a jazz waltz. However, instead of being written in song form structure, this movement is written in sonata allegro design. The secondary theme introduces the waltz, which is in sharp contrast to the opening quasi bebop theme. Both themes are featured more or less throughout the entire movement. The development introduces a brief moment of improvisation.

Movement IV, the final movement, features jazz written in a sonata rondo design, i.e., A-B-A-C-A-B-A. Section C constitutes a lengthy jazz fugue, which functions as a development. – Earl Louis Stewart