16:30 PM

UST’s Dr. Malcolm Solomon Wins The Dolphy Prize for “Substantial and Unique” Composition

Anger chiseled by a sad state of affairs moves through the latest award-winning composition by UST Associate Professor of Music Malcolm Solomon. “The Mindlessness of It All,” a two-movement work for bass clarinet and piano, has received Alea Publishing’s The Dolphy Prize. The Dolphy recognizes Black composers for new works that feature bass clarinet.

Solomon’s piece has been described by reviewers as “substantial and unique” and featuring “intriguing rhythmic interplay between the bass clarinet and piano.”

Surrounded by Inspiration

The composer, writer, director and independent filmmaker has won many honors for his creative works. He spoke about this particular composition’s origins from his home office, decorated with iconic images: the Kent State massacre, people protesting the Vietnam War, black power sign raised at the ’68 Olympics and Tiananmen Square demonstrators in ’89.

“I began to work on this classical piece after the Sandy Hook shootings, but I stopped,” Solomon said. “Then George Floyd happened and Breonna Taylor, and I picked it up again, finishing the first movement. For the second movement, I created a variation in the style of an old Negro spiritual song.”

The creative, talented associate professor, who also shoots and scores films and writes screenplays, wants this music to make people feel anger and sadness around the circumstances that brought the piece to life.

Behind Every Great Man

His mother— he calls her “Ma” — played piano and trombone and taught all five of her children to make music on the keyboard. The youngest, Solomon, who started at the age of four, was the only one who stuck with it.

“I loved it from the beginning,” Solomon said. “Everyone in the house was doing it, so it was fun. When I won my first contest at 10, that was extra fun.”

The Houston-and-New-York-raised, multi-instrument musician got his BA in Musical Arts from UST in ’96.

“It was gold, the education and individual attention I got at UST.”

He went on to earn his DMA at Rice University in ’02.

The renaissance man favors all of his creative outlets. “I like to create. What I create is driven by my mood, time and commitments. When I’m writing, it’s like I’m watching a movie.”

Solomon hopes that his works take people on a journey.

He adds with a smile, “Ma is proud of me.”