Curtis K. Hughes (b. 1974) is a Boston-based freelance composer and a graduate of New England Conservatory (NEC), where he received a Masters degree in 2000 and is completing a DMA, studying primarily with composer Lee Hyla and also with Michael Gandolfi. He has also studied independently with composer Evan Ziporyn, he has collaborated with composer/improviser Joseph Maneri, and he is a graduate of Oberlin College and Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he studied with composers Param Vir and Pieter Snapper. His orchestral and large ensemble music has been performed by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra, the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, and most recently by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project as the winner of the organization's 4th annual composition competition. Works of his have been commissioned and championed by numerous chamber groups, including the Callithumpian Consort, the Radius Ensemble, the Yesaroun' Duo, the Firebird Ensemble, and the Saxophone Quartet of the U.S. Marine Band. At NEC, he has been a winner of composition competitions for the Honors String Quartet, and the Contemporary Ensemble, as well as the recipient of NEC's Tourjée Alumni Award. In 2000, he received the Japan Society of Boston's Toru Takemitsu Prize for Composition, awarded annually to one of the "most promising" young composers in the Boston area.
His music has been praised by the New York Times as "fiery," and a performance in 2002 of his orchestral work Gestations was praised by the Boston Globe as "colorfully scored," and by New Music Connoisseur as "a most worthy offering."
An active member of greater Boston's new music community, he is currently an instructor in music theory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has also taught at Brandeis University, and NEC. For 2 years he was the director of NEC's new music concert series, "Tuesday Night New Music," and he routinely organizes and produces concerts around the greater Boston area at venues such as MIT's Killian Hall. He has also performed and recorded for New World Records with Gamelan Galak Tika, a Balinese/Western ensemble founded by Evan Ziporyn, and he has participated in numerous music festivals, including the June in Buffalo conference, Aspen, and the Composers Conference in Wellesley, MA. In recent years, Curtis's music has been performed in such diverse venues as the Library of Congress in Washington, Elebash Hall at CUNY in New York City, the Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition in Rotterdam, the Summer Institute for Contemporary Piano Performance (SICPP), NEC's Jordan Hall, the New Gallery Concert Series in Boston's south end, and many others. He has also had regular ongoing collaborations with some of the most remarkable musicians of his generation, including pianist Sarah Bob, percussionist Aaron Trant, violinist Biliana Voutchkova, saxophonist/conductor Eric Hewitt and clarinetist Michael Norsworthy.
His debut CD, AVOIDANCE TACTICS, released in late 2003 from Cauchemar Records, was praised in New Music Box as "an emblem to pulling together the wherewithal to do something audacious," and a live version of the title track from the CD was broadcast internationally on WGBH's "Art of the States." Other recent events have included the premiere of Myopia II, for saxophone ensemble, as a featured part of the centennial festival for Jordan Hall (2004), and NATIONAL INSECURITY, a new program of all American political music, produced in collaboration with composer David T. Little. In 2005 he will be a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, MA.