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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


David Schiff, professor of music at Reed College, has won a prestigious national award for music composition given annually to a select number of recipients by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). This is the fifth year in which Schiff has been honored with the ASCAP cash award.

The ASCAP awards reflect the society's commitment to encourage writers of serious music. They are granted by an independent panel of distinguished experts and are based upon the unique prestige value of each writer's catalog of original compositions, as well as the recent performance activity of those works in areas not surveyed by ASCAP.

David Schiff's work, which is often lauded in the New York Times and the Oregonian, combines classical, jazz, and rock elements. Since he composed Scenes from Adolescence in 1987, which he describes as his best piece, Schiff has worked to develop "an idiom that is jazz and rock, not just a nod to them." Schiff is also a renowned and prolific author, scholar, and critic whose articles on music history appear frequently in the New York Times.

Schiff's composition Zinman Freylakh, commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra to honor the sixtieth birthday of Maestro David Zinman, premiered July 1996. Currently, he is working on Vashti, a work for mezzo-soprano, clarinet, and piano, set to be performed in January 1997 at Delray Beach, Florida. Along with his current compositions, Schiff is working on two books: Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue (Cambridge Music Handbooks) is in production, and the second edition of The Music of Elliot Carter (Faber and Faber) is currently in progress. Schiff's major compositions include Solus Rex, the chamber concerto for bass trombone commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; the opera Gimpel the Fool; and Suite from Sacred Service: Avodath Bewit Yisrael, the first synagogue service written for a female cantor, whichpremiered at Portland's Performing Arts Center in 1989. "Divertimento from Gimpel the Fool," Suite from Sacred Service, and Scenes from Adolescence have all been recorded and released on the Delos label by artists of Chamber Music Northwest and Judith Schiff.

Schiff has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Merrill Foundation, and the Amphion Foundation, as well as two senior Vollum awards from Reed. He won the 1979 ISCM League of Composers National Composers Competition for his Elegy for string quartet and was granted the ASCAP Deems Taylor book award in 1984 for his book The Music of Elliott Carter (Eulenburg Books, 1983).

Schiff, who grew up and was educated in New York City, holds a B.A. in English literature from Columbia University and a Ph. D. in composition from the Juilliard School. He also studied at Cambridge University and the Manhattan School of Music. He joined the Reed faculty in 1980.