Chris Rutkowski

Composer | Pianist








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CRheadshot1b1Chris Rutkowski enjoys dual musical careers, as both a contemporary classical composer and a jazz pianist. As a composer, he has been performed internationally, and has received numerous awards and commissions. These include the Individual Artist Fellowship of the Indiana Arts Commission/National Endowment for the Arts, and awards from the Michigan Music Teachers Association, the Illinois State University Fine Arts Festival, ASCAP, and the Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship of the Arts Council of Indianapolis. Recent pieces include: Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble (2008), Spirals (2006) for both string quartet and string orchestra, Passages (2005) and Divertimento (2002, rev. 2006) for the Ronen Chamber Ensemble, The Waking (2000) for chorus and clarinet permiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Dervish (1999, rev. 2006) for saxophone quartet premiered in Philadelphia and NYC and broadcast by the Israel Broadcast Authority and NHK Radio Japan, and Symmetries (2000) premiered by the Indiana University Symphony Orchestra. His work has been described as "haunting" (Indianapolis Star) and another "crackling performance" was labeled "the most interesting of this season's premiers by any sponsor in any venue" (NUVO, Indianapolis). NUVO's Tom Aldridge wrote, "With Passages, Rutkowski delivers another winner-repeating his 2002 success in this series," and his arrangement of "How Long Has This Been Going On", commercially released by Centaur Records, was ranked as one reviewer's "favorite non-Gershwin Gershwin on the disc" (

Born in Hartford, Conn., Rutkowski was raised in Ohio and Michigan. He studied Philosophy at Kings College London, UK, concentrating on the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein and working intensively with Rush Rhees, Wittgenstein's literary executor. Upon returning to Detroit, he began a long period of work as a professional jazz pianist, performing with legendary trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, Motown recording artists The Temptations, and at several Montreux/Detroit Jazz Festivals.

A final career turn to the world of classical composition began with graduate studies at Eastern Michigan University with Anthony Iannaccone, continuing with doctoral work at Indiana University and private study with John Corigliano. Following academic appointments at Earlham College and The College of Wooster, he is currently Clinical Assistant Professor of Music Composition and Technology at Indiana Purdue University Fort. Wayne, in Fort Wayne, IN.

In addition to his academic work, Rutkowski performs extensively throughout Indiana as a jazz pianist, where his performances have been featured in two television programs produced by WTBU (Indianapolis). Each has received numerous broadcasts, including prime-time slots on the Indianapolis PBS affiliate WFYI. Recent performances include gigs with Darmon Meader (leader, New York Voices) and singer Everett Greene at the Indianapolis Jazz Kitchen, with trumper Allen Vizzuti and saxophonist Eric Alexander. Most recently, he has been appointed Artistic Director of LaSalle Live, an organization dedicated to intimate jazz perfomances in a cabaret setting.

Rutkowski has often been invited to serve as guest composer, most recently at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, Youngstown State University and the East Asian Contemporary Music Festival in Miyazaki, Japan. Current projects include recording session work, jazz and commercial writing, and music technology applications through his company, LUNA Media.



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