Curt Cacioppo Honored for Musical Achievements
Currently the chair of Haverford's music department, Cacioppo, 45, was recognized by the Academy for his outstanding accomplishments in music composition. The prestigious honor acknowledges American composers who have arrived at their own "voice," and provides recipients with a $15,000 cash award - half of which is to be used for the recording of a selected composition.
"Voice has to do with how you think, how you express yourself on a purely musical level," explained Cacioppo who has been nominated for the award twice before. "I don't know if I could describe it. It has to do with my imagination and my mode of working, how I put notes together, how I see possibilities for development of ideas."
An accomplished pianist, Cacioppo said his musical compositions are influenced by Native-American music, myth and history as well as his Italian heritage. Recalling an Ohio childhood filled with games of cowboys and Indians and television episodes of the "Lone Ranger" and Tonto, Cacioppo said he became seriously aware of the plight and culture of Native-American Indians during his undergraduate studies at Kent State University.
"Around the time of the shootings at Kent State, there were all kinds of upheavals happening - there was tension not only on the college campuses, but on the Indian reservations as well. People like Marlon Brando were coming out with very bold statements, and at the same time Indian poems and fiction writing were gaining prominence," he explained.
Although Cacioppo said he does not consider the majority of his music to be overtly symbolic or rigidly political, he noted the issue of Native-American reparations and racism sometimes comes to the forefront in his work. Cacioppo described his composition Old Petitions, as a "very political outcry against racism and the miscarriage of justice." He referred to his piece, American Prayer, as "a prayer that America as a nation will act responsively and use its resources and powers for the greater good." Other works that reflect Cacioppo's deep interest in the Native American world include Snake Dance, inspired by a Hopi ceremony, Pawnee Preludes and Wolf, which is set to a Mohawk poem and appears on the latest SCI/Capstone CD (CPS 8632).
In addition, Cacioppo has also composed music evocative of his Italian heritage. Those titles include, Tuscan Folio, Ciclo metamorfico, Sonata trasfigurata and Poems from Paternina.
In America, Cacioppo's music has been commissioned and performed by such prominent organizations as the Chicago and Milwaukee symphonies. His composition, Nayenezgani ("Monsterslayer"), a work based on a Navajo creation story, was also recently commissioned and premiered by the Emerson String Quartet in collaboration with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Cacioppo's compositions have also been performed in such foreign cities as Siena, Barcelona, Paris, Munich, Bayreuth, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Helsinki.