May 22, 2013, Bronx, New York—Two Bronx Community College faculty, Professor Tom Cipullo and Substitute[M1] Assistant Professor Steven Burke, have received the Arts and Letters Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The awards were presented earlier this month in New York City. This prestigious honor society is comprised of 250 celebrated architects, composers, visual artists, and writers. Every year, among other prizes, the Academy awards four grants of $15,000 each [M2] to composers with outstanding artistic achievement “who have arrived at his or her own voice.” Two of this year’s music grants were awarded to BCC faculty.
Cipullo and Burke have notably impressive careers that have been recognized by various institutions. Cipullo, who performs internationally, recently received a National Endowment of the Arts grant and was a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow. His most recent work, the opera Glory Denied, was described as “intriguing and unconventional” with a “luminous score” by The New York Times.
Steven Burke has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rome Prize, and in 1999 he was awarded a Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is looking forward to using a portion of the money from the Arts and Letters award to fund the CD he is currently recording. The BCC professor, who has been teaching music writing and Introduction to Music since 2003, is also working on an opera. He credits teaching with much of his success. “The challenge for me is to capture in music the intense and complex nature of love, vulnerability, and the emotional barriers we construct to protect it,” he says. “My BCC students inspire me to be more self-aware, generous, and vulnerable. Through them I have found the courage and clarity to openly embrace and share what is musically sacred to me.”
Tom Cipullo, who has been teaching Introduction to Music and beginning and intermediate piano at BCC since 1995, also says that his students are an inspiration for his creativity. He is currently completing an opera, which he calls Mayo, and in which he explores the eugenics movement of the early and mid-twentieth century. In addition, he is composing a piece for the 150-voice Cecilia Chorus and Orchestra, which will premiere at Carnegie Hall in April 2014. He is able to maintain such a demanding schedule because, explains Cipullo, “I am constantly energized by the support and encouragement I receive from the BCC administration and the intellectual stimulation I get from my very talented colleagues on the faculty.”
The awards were presented earlier this month at the Academy’s annual Ceremonial.