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Biography

  • Born

    16 March 1948 (age 70)

Stuart Saunders Smith (born 1948) is an American composer and percussionist.

Stuart Saunders Smith was born in Portland Maine, and began his percussion and composition studies at the age of six with Charles Newcomb. He studied harmony, counterpoint, and arranging at the Berklee School of Music in 1966, and continued his percussion and composition studies at the Hartt College of Music (1967–1972) and the University of Illinois at Urbana (1973–1977). He currently resides in the state of Vermont with his wife Sylvia.

Over a hundred of Smith's nearly 200 works are for percussion instruments with a special emphasis on vibraphone literature. His Links Series of Vibraphone Essays (1974-1994) is considered as groundbreaking music (Welsh). Also Plenty (I-XXXIV) and New England are concert length compositions for vibraphone that extend the intellectual and emotional range of that instrument (Smith). Smith also has composed extensively for drumset, orchestra bells, xylophone, marimba, chimes, and multi-percussion.
Stuart Saunders Smith's percussion-theater music forms the core of that literature with such pieces as Poems I II III, …And Points North, Tunnels, Clay Singing and twenty-six compositions of that genre (Smith).
Stuart Saunders Smith is widely recorded with well over 80 recordings of individual compositions on such labels as New World Records, Ravello Records, Centaur, Innova, 11 West Records, O.O. Discs, Equilibrium, GAC, and Soundset Recordings.
In addition, anthologies of new music have included his theater music, and music of rhythmic intricacy: Here and There, MacMillan Publishing, NYC; Return and Recall, Assembling Press, NYC; Faces, ASUC, NYC; and Transitions and Leaps, Mark Batty Publications, NYC. Articles on his music have been published regularly throughout the years in such journals as: Perspectives of New Music, Percussive Notes, Interface, and ex tempore.
Smith is the author of several articles on his music and others. These fifteen writings are used in some percussion literature courses as required readings. He is the author of two books: Pathways through Twentieth Century Music, an anthology, Prentice-Hall, co-edited with Dr. Thomas DeLio; Words and Spaces, an anthology, University Publishing, co-authored with Dr. Thomas DeLio. In addition, he is currently writing Composing, Thoughts, a book of experimental writings about aesthetics, language, composition, listening, and religion. Part I of this book was published in The Modern Percussion Revolution: Journeys of the Progressive Artist, edited by Kevin Lewis and Gustavo Aguilar (Routledge, 2014).
Stuart Saunders Smith's service works on the behalf of music includes organizing hundreds of concerts of new music, functioning as a lobbyist for the arts for the American Society of University Composers during the Reagan presidency, and as Executive Editor of Percussive Notes, Research Edition from 1982–1984.
Recent concerts included a three-day festival of his percussion-theater music at the University of Maine in the Fall of 2013 and a three-day festival of his vibraphone music by Berndt Thurner in Vienna, Austria in 2014.

His awards and honors include three UMBC Research Grants, The Hartt College Distinguished Alumni Award, East/West Artist Award, three Maryland State Artists Fellowships, the National Endowment for the Arts Composer's Fellowship, Percussive Arts Society Service Award and the Atlantic Center's Master Artist Award.

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