Fellow: Awarded 2010
Field of Study: Music Composition
Competition: US & Canada
Mark Kilstofte is celebrated for his exquisitely structured and remarkably versatile compositions. In his review for the San Francisco Chronicle of the world premiere of Recurring Dreams: Variations for Orchestra, Joshua Kosman raved that Kilstofte had created “an exciting and beautiful score, full of rhythmic vitality and sonic invention. . . . When the piece drew to a close after 15 minutes I was surprised and disappointed; all I wanted was to hear it again.” That particular composition won both the ASCAP Foundation’s Rudolph Nissim Award (1997) and first place in the Louisville Orchestra Composition Competition (1999).
During his studies at the University of Michigan (M.M., 1985, D.M.A., 1992), he was already being recognized as a superbly talented composer, winning the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1988); the West Virginia Symphony/Museum in the Community’s Composers Award for String Quartet (1990) for his first major chamber work; a Dissertation Fellowship from the School of Music (1989); and the Rackham School of Graduate Studies’ Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship (1989-90).
More honors followed: the Frances and William Schuman Fellowship (1995) and inaugural Gardner Read Fellowship (2007-08) at the MacDowell Colony; three Aaron Copland Awards from the Copland Heritage Foundation (1998, 2003, 2008)—the only composer ever to receive three; the South Carolina Arts Commission Artist Fellowship (2000-01); the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2001); and the Frederic A. Juilliard/Walter Damrosch Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome (2002-03). He has been an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre’s Leighton Artist Colony (1998, 2007) and the American Academy in Rome (2005, 2007) and composer-in-residence of the Hot Springs Music Festival (2008), and has received commissions from the Dale Warland Singers, the Mellon Foundation, the Fromm Foundation, and Copland House.
Since 1992, Mark Kilstofte has been a Professor of Music at Furman University; previously he was a Lecturer in theory and composition at Wayne State University. He is also the artistic director of Kilstofte Engineering, a performing arts organization honoring his father’s memory. During his Guggenheim Fellowship term, he will be completing two projects: a cycle of songs for soprano and chamber orchestra whose lyrics will be poems of Linda Pastan, Nancy Willard, and fellow Fellows Mark Strand, James Merrill, and Erica Funkhauser, and a chamber opera based on Henrik Ibsen’s play Brand.
Profile photograph by Jeremy Fleming.