Born in Moss Point, Mississippi, on July 9, 1953, Steve Rouse has composed and performed music since childhood. Growing up on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, his musical experiences and influences were wildly diverse. In addition to hearing the varieties of indigenous folk music of the area, his performing experiences included choirs, R&B, jazz, and rock bands (keyboards and woodwinds), and symphonic bands and orchestras (bassoon). In addition to formal training on piano, bassoon, and saxophone, he taught himself rudimentary to intermediate skills on many other instruments. One of his first musical influences was his maternal grandmother, Sophie, who was a “natural” pianist, untrained in any way but able to play many things after only hearing them. Growing up, Rouse assumed that this was a normal skill and developed it himself, along with becoming a gifted improviser. Having been away from Mississippi for most of his adult life, he views his childhood there as far more fascinating, exotic, and personally influential than he understood at the time.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters has described his work as “powerful statements, whether he writes for orchestra, chamber ensembles, or other medium.” Elsewhere reviewers have called him “a master of orchestration” and “a brilliant, original composer with superb craft and extraordinary spirit.” His Into the Light has been described in print as “intense and fiercely original” and “a passionate, visionary work.” Reviews of his Waiting for Daylight called the piece "a work of horror, hope, powerfully rendered," and it was praised with “Collisions of art and social realism are as old as humankind, but seldom do they produce a work of such emotional power.”
Rouse has received many awards and recognition for his compositions, including a Rome Prize, a Meet The Composer residency, a National Endowment for the Arts Composition Fellowship, the Ives and Hinrichsen Awards from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and three Al Smith Fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council. Rouse's compositions have been recorded for the Telarc, Delos, Summit, Albany, and Centaur labels, among others. His music is published by C. F. Peters, Manhattan Beach Music, Lauren Keiser Music Publishing, and Primal Press.
Rouse received his B.M. composition degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and his M.M. and D.M.A. composition degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Since 1988, he has taught at the University of Louisville School of Music where he is Professor of Composition.
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Ravello Records is the contemporary classical label imprint of audio production house PARMA Recordings. Dedicated to highlighting forward thinking composers and musicians from around the world, the New England-based label's eclectic catalog offers listeners a cross-section of today's up-and-coming innovators in orchestral, chamber, and experimental music.
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