PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University will honor composer Stephen Michael Gryc at the university’s 15th annual celebration of contemporary classical music Feb. 17-21.

Compositions by Gryc will be performed by WSU faculty in a Feb. 21 public concert at 8 p.m. in Bryan Hall Auditorium. Student and faculty compositions also will be highlighted during the weeklong festival — faculty compositions at 8 p.m. Feb. 19 in Bryan Hall and student work at 11 a.m. Feb. 17 in Kimbrough Concert Hall.

It is a tradition of the WSU Festival of Contemporary Art Music that the visiting composers work with composition students, consult with faculty and oversee rehearsals of their compositions.

This year’s festival reflects some big changes, which begin with the festival’s name. Known as the New Music Festival since its creation by professor Charles Argersinger in 1989, it will now be the Festival of Contemporary Art Music, “a better representation of what the festival is and the particular kind of music we are celebrating,” Argersinger said.

The festival is deemed important by music faculty and students as well as the WSU because it celebrates contemporary art music and promotes composers who create this style of music. “Without this festival and others like it, young people might not be introduced to this music. It really is in danger of becoming extinct,” Argersinger said.

The highlighted concert, featuring works of the visiting composer, will be Saturday evening instead of the traditional Thursday. “Staging the concert on the weekend will simply allow greater access to contemporary art music fans that live out of the area,” said Gerald Berthiaume, director of the School of Music and Theatre Arts.

Gryc, a faculty member at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School, teaches traditional orchestration courses as well as original courses in writing for wind ensembles and voice. His commissions represent a diverse group of the world’s leading soloists, including oboist Bert Lucarelli, flutist John Wion and trumpeter Philip Smith. Gryc’s most recent commissions include a trombone concerto for Joseph Alessi, principal trombonist of the New York Philharmonic. His works for large ensembles have been performed by such groups as the Eastman Wind Ensemble, the United States Marine Band and the Minnesota Orchestra.

The 2003 festival was highlighted by visiting composer Chen Yi who will be a featured visiting composer at the Seattle Symphony in the spring.