Celebrated Chicago-based composer Mischa Zupko writes music that is emotionally charged, viscerally engaging and continually seeks to involve participation on a variety of levels. Having collaborated with a number of today’s most exciting performers, he has created a body of work that is intensely virtuosic and speaks with clarity of vision. In the words of New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini, Zupko’s Five Etudes for Piano were “Liszt-like in their florid generosity” and the L.A. Times has hailed his compositions as “engaging”. He was the 2010-2011 composer-in-residence with the Fulcrum Point New Music Project based in Chicago and was featured in a cover story of the Chicago Reader for his compositional activities in the Chicagoland area. He currently serves as the director of Beethoven Today, the modern music series of the International Beethoven Project’s widely acclaimed Beethoven Festival.
Mr. Zupko’s works have been championed, commissioned and premiered by leading U.S. orchestras and chamber groups including the Minnesota Orchestra, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Fulcrum Point New Music Project, American Modern Ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, Corigliano Quartet, Lincoln Trio and members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as well as members of the Kronos, Vermeer and Pacifica Quartets.
Mr. Zupko’s commissions include those from the Minnesota Orchestra the Pacific Symphony, Camerata Chicago chamber orchestra, The Fulcrum Point New Music Project, the St. Olaf Band, the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, the Music Institute of Chicago and the New York Youth Symphony. He is also a recipient of grants from the Fromm Foundation and the Barlow Endowment. An avid proponent of virtuosity, Zupko has collaborated closely with such intrepid soloists as cellists Jeffrey Ziegler and Nicholas Photinos, trumpeter Stephen Burns, pianists Winston Choi and Lori Simms, saxophonists Timothy McAllister and Fred Hemke, flutist Thomas Robertello, harpist Maria Luisa Rayan, and organists David Schrader and Doug Cleveland.
Mr. Zupko’s numerous awards include first place in the Pacific Symphony Orchestra’s ‘American Composer’s Competition’, first place in the Loudon Symphony’s American Composer Competition, the Lee Ettelson Composers Award from Composers Inc., co-winner of the USA International Harp Competition Composition Contest, three ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Awards including the first prize Kaplan Award, the ‘First Music’ award from the New York Youth Symphony, the Jacob Druckman prize from the Aspen Music Festival and finalist in the Rome Prize Competition. In addition, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Goldberg”, a collective commissioning project from the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival to which Zupko contributed his “Ghost Variation”, was selected by the International Piano Awards as the 2007 winner in the Best Sheet Music – New Work Category.
Performances of Zupko’s works have been featured at Carnegie Hall, Weill Hall, Merkin Hall, The Harris Theater of Music and Dance in Chicago, Ravinia, Minneapolis’s Orchestra Hall, Segerstrom Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, the Aspen Music Festival, the Moscow Conservatory, the Dame Myra Hess Series, the American Modern Ensemble concert series, Barge Music, Keys to the Future, Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and have also been included in live broadcasts on KMZT (Los Angeles), WFMT (Chicago) and WCLV (Cleveland). Included among his live broadcasts are featured performances on Make Music Chicago, the daylong music festival modeled on Paris’s Fete de la Musique. In addition, his works have been performed in numerous solo instrumental competitions, including the USA International Harp Competition, the Israel International Harp Competition and the Gaudeamus Interpreter’s Competition. Several of Mr. Zupko’s works have been recorded and are available on the Crystal, Innova, American Modern Recordings and ENF labels.
An accomplished pianist, Zupko has performed in numerous venues playing his own works as well as the works of his colleagues and more standard literature. Citing a performance of his work “Shunt” for piano and electronics, Chicago Classical Review declared his performance “powerful” having “matched the electronics beat for beat in an episodic composition that fused science-fiction scoring with all kinds of electronic effects.” Other performances include those with the Fulcrum Point New Music Project, violinist Mathias Tacke of the former Vermeer Quartet and members of the Lincoln Trio and Eighth Blackbird on the International Beethoven Project’s Beethoven Festival 2012: Revolution.
A dedicated pedagogue, Mr. Zupko serves as the composer-in-residence at the Music Institute of Chicago and has held teaching positions at DePaul University and Roosevelt’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. He resides in Chicago with his wife, Minkyoo and son, Leo.