Tom Cipullo

Tom Cipullo

Fellow: Awarded 2012
Field of Study: Music Composition

Competition: US & Canada

Composer Tom Cipullo’s works have been heard at major concert halls on four continents, from San Francisco to Tel Aviv, from Stockholm to LaPaz.  He has received commissions from the Mirror Visions Ensemble, SongFest at Pepperdine, the Joy in Singing, Sequitur, Cantori New York, tenor Paul Sperry, mezzo-soprano Mary Ann Hart, the Five Boroughs Music Festival, pianist Jeanne Golan, soprano Martha Guth, the Walt Whitman Project, baritone Jesse Blumberg, the New York Festival of Song, and many others.   He has received awards and fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Copland House, the Liguria Study Center (Bogliasco, Italy), the Fundacion Valparaiso (Spain), the Oberpfaelzer Kuenstlerhaus (Bavaria), ASCAP, Meet the Composer, and the Jory Copying Program.  The New York Times has called his music “haunting,” and The Boston Globe remarked that his work “literally sparkled with wit.”  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has called him “an expert in writing for the voice.”  Recent honors include the Minneapolis Pops New Orchestral Repertoire Award (2009) for Sparkler, the National Association of Teachers of Singing Art Song Award (2008) for the song-cycle Of a Certain Age (commissioned by the soprano Hope Hudson), the Aaron Copland Award from Copland House (2007), and the Phyllis Wattis Prize for song composition from the San Francisco Song Festival for Drifts & Shadows (2006). 

Mr. Cipullo is the composer of one opera, Glory Denied.  The work, after the book by journalist Tom Philpott, is based on the true story of America’s longest-held prisoner of war.  The piece was premiered by the Brooklyn College Opera Theater in 2007, given its professional premiere by the Remarkable Theater Brigade in New York in June of 2008, and recently presented by Chelsea Opera and by Urban Arias in Arlington, Virginia.  Critical reception to the opera has been enthusiastic.  Of the Chelsea Opera production (2010), Allan Kozinn of The New York Times wrote: "Mr. Cipullo’s vocal writing is angular and declamatory at times, but he has a keen sense of when to let that modernist approach melt into glowing melody, and he has an even keener ear for orchestral color."

In that same November 12, 2010, review, Mr. Kozinn went on to cite “the efficiency of [the opera’s] structure,” and referred to the work’s second-act “showstoppers.”  A production by the UrbanArias company in Arlington, Virginia (2011), was reviewed by Joan Reinthaler of The Washington Post.  Under a headline that exclaimed “Vietnam-Era Saga Glory Denied Doesn’t Withhold a Single Musical Wish,” Ms. Reinthaler praised a “luminous score that offered vivid embodiments of the protagonist’s mental states.”

Tom Cipullo’s song cycles A Visit with Emily, Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House, and Of a Certain Age are published by Oxford University Press.  Other works are distributed by Classical Vocal Reprints.  His music has been recorded on the Albany, CRI, PGM, and Capstone labels.

Mr. Cipullo’s recent events include the premiere of Excelsior, a new song cycle composed for baritone Jesse Blumberg and pianist Martin Katz, Something About Autumn written for soprano Martha Guth, and Passionate Sacrament for violin and piano, premiered at the Montale Auditorium of Genoa’s Teatro Carlo Felice as part of the festivities surrounding the Paganini Violin Competition.  In late May 2011, the Mirror Visions Ensemble gave the New York premiere of the cantata Insomnia at Weill Recital Hall.

Mr. Cipullo received his Master’s degree in composition from Boston University and his B.S. from Hofstra University, Phi Beta Kappa with highest honors in music.  He studied composition and orchestration with David Del Tredici, Elie Siegmeister, and Albert Tepper.  Mr. Cipullo is a founding member of the Friends & Enemies of New Music, an organization that has presented more than eighty concerts featuring the music of over 200 different American composers.


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