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Don Byron Scores Rome Prize

May 14, 2009

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Don Byron

Don Byron, awarded the famed Samuel Barber Rome Prize for Musical Composition and a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in music. (Photo Till Krautkraemer)

It's been that kind of a year for Visiting Associate Professor Don Byron. The acclaimed musician and composer was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in music when he heard he'd been awarded the famed Samuel Barber Rome Prize for Musical Composition.

"Don Byron is a uniquely talented individual,” said UAlbany Interim President George Philip  “We are delighted his creative genius has been recognized in this way and proud he is associated with our University family."

"In my time at Albany, I have come up with a clearer picture of what every musician should have," Byron said. "Winning anything is always fun, but coming so close to winning a Pulitzer is just as significant."

Byron will use his award to take up residence at the American Academy in Rome, Italy in September 2009 for one year to work on a chamber opera based on the novel and film "Gentlemen's Agreement."

Byron joined the University at Albany Music Department in fall 2005 to teach theory, saxophone, improvisation and composition. He previously served as artistic director of jazz at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and as artist-in-residence at New York's Symphony Space.

The multi-talented clarinetist, composer, arranger and social critic was named Jazz Artist of the Year by Down Beat magazine in 1992. His recording debut on tenor saxophone, "Ivey-Divey" (Blue Note, 2004), with pianist Jason Moran and drummer Jack DeJohnette, was nominated for a Grammy Award and was voted 2004 Album of the Year by Jazz Times magazine.

Byron has performed and recorded with musicians that include the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Cassandra Wilson, Bang On A Can All-Stars and the Atlanta Symphony. Byron currently performs with several ensembles, including a trio with pianist Jason Moran and drummer Billy Hart. He was named a Guggenheim Fellow for 2007.

Byron was named a 2009 Pulitzer finalist in music for his "7 Etudes for Solo Piano", a piece that premiered in 2008 and was described by the Pulitzer committee as "a deft set of studies that display rhythmic inventiveness and irresistible energy, charm and wit."

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Rabi Musah
UAlbany Faculty

"It is an enriching experience for me to observe people as they come to recognize something for the first time."

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