Posts tagged Cwik
Guest Artists: Orphiq Percussion Quartet
Left to right: Peyton Esraelian, Robert Strong, Sean Clark, and Michael Downing of the Orphiq Quartet.

Left to right: Peyton Esraelian, Robert Strong, Sean Clark, and Michael Downing of the Orphiq Quartet.

Orphiq Quartet

Orphiq Quartet

Musicians Sean Clark, Michael Downing, Peyton Esraelian and Robert Strong are the Orphiq Quartet. The Fresno-based group performs internationally and seeks to share its love of percussion chamber music with audiences everywhere. They enjoy working with composers on new pieces and like to perform standards as well. 

Sean Clark is currently attending Fresno State University, where he is working on a bachelor’s degree in instrumental music education. He splits his time among several projects and ensembles including Orphiq, the Fresno State Percussion Quartet and the New Arrivals Duo.

Michael Downing is section percussionist with the Sacramento Philharmonic and the Stockton Symphony. He is the adjunct professor of percussion at Fresno Pacific University and holds a master’s degree and a bachelor of arts degree from Fresno State. 

Peyton Esraelian is a recent graduate of Clovis Online High School and has been a member of the Fresno State Percussion Ensemble and New Music Ensemble since 2015. She is the principal percussionist with the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra. 

Robert Strong is a percussionist, composer and educator based in Clovis, California. He studied music performance under Dr. Matthew Darling at CSU Fresno. From 2014 until 2017, he served as director of percussion studies at the Regan Educational Center in Clovis. He is currently a member of the Impetus Percussion Quartet, Orphiq and Clovis Wind Symphony.

Visit the Orphiq Quartet's website to learn more.

Composer Profile: Stefan Cwik
Stefan Cwik, composer-in-residence

Stefan Cwik, composer-in-residence

Stefan Cwik, composer-in-residence for Symphony Parnassus, studied composition and guitar performance with Dusan Bogdanovic, and composition with David Conte, at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He studied with composer Michel Merlet at the European American Musical Alliance summer program in Paris, France, and completed his graduate studies in composition with John Corigliano at The Juilliard School in New York.

Bassoonist Paula Brusky premiered Cwik’s Eight Miniatures for Chamber Ensemble (Hommage a Stravinsky), a winner of the 2010 Bassoon Chamber Music Composition Competition. It was also was premiered at the 2011 International Double Reed Society Conference. It is published by TrevCo Publishing with a recording on the MSR classics label. Cwik’s piece Acrobats for four-hand piano, commissioned by the ZOFO duet of San Francisco, and winner of the 2013 BMI Student composer award, will be recorded and released on the Sono Luminus label.

While at Juilliard, Stefan won the Orchestral Composition Competition for two consecutive years. His orchestral work Terpsichore was premiered and recorded by the Juilliard Orchestra, and was given honorable mention at the 2012 Minnesota Orchestra Composer’s Institute. The Illusionist, his second winning piece, was given honorable mention at the 2013 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards.

Stefan has already collaborated four times with Maestro Stephen Paulson and Symphony Parnassus, premiering his Concert Dances for Orchestra (2009), his Piano Concerto with soloist Scott Foglesong (2011), his English Horn concerto The Sword in the Stone featuring soloist Russ DeLuna (2016), and Luz Dorada (Golden Light) in 2017. His final commission as composer-in-residence for Symphony Parnassus is Relics: Dances for Percussion Quartet and Orchestra, to be premiered on today’s program.

Stefan Cwik is currently professor of music theory and musicianship at SFCM. Stefan is a member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). Examples of his music can be found on his website,, and can be requested by contacting him via email at

Painter's use of light and color inspires composer Cwik's 'Luz Dorada'
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Q&A with Stefan Cwik, Symphony Parnassus composer-in-residence

Stefan Cwik, composer-in-residence

Stefan Cwik, composer-in-residence

Stefan Cwik, Symphony Parnassus composer-in-residence, is proud to present his latest work, Luz Dorada: Music After Three Paintings by Eduardo Rodriguez Calzado in a world premiere with Symphony Parnassus.

Stefan, 30, who was named composer-in-residence in 2016, has collaborated three times before with Symphony Parnassus, premiering his Concert Dances for Orchestra, Piano Concerto, and his English horn concerto, The Sword in the Stone.

He is professor of music theory and musicianship at the San Francisco Conservatory, from which he also has a bachelor’s degree in composition. He also has a master’s in composition from The Juilliard School, where he won the orchestral composition competition twice, with his works Terpsichore and The Illusionist. 

Originally from Chicago, he now resides in the Bay Area.

How did you become acquainted with Eduardo, the artist who inspired your music? What is it about his paintings that drew you in?

Finding Eduardo's paintings was a happy accident. I was browsing through abstract art on my computer. I hadn't intended to come across a living artist since I was looking through older art from the late 1800s and early 1900s. A picture of one of Eduardo's artworks made its way into my search. That led me to his website where I learned about him as an artist and as was able to explore some of his works. I was immediately drawn in by the extraordinary use of fragmentation of forms and sensitivity to color and light. Upon reading his artistic statement, I immediately connected with him as an artist, specifically this line (taken directly from his website) "In most of my paintings I represent the human form or some sort of human element and our connection to another plane of consciousness."

Was it unusual to find inspiration in paintings? Have you done this before?

I had never before used visual art as an inspiration for a piece of music. I have always loved art museums and the process of experiencing and receiving a visual work of art but had not directly used art for my music.

Which composers inspire you and why?

I tend to listen to Igor Stravinsky, Britten, Ravel, Esa Pekka Salonen, and Thomas Adès. I like them all for different reasons, but I would have to say that what links them together is their ability to draw from the music that came before them for inspiration and innovate with an enormous creative sensibility that allows them to compose in an instantly recognizable style.

How has it been to work with Symphony Parnassus this time around?

It has been great working with Symphony Parnassus. The orchestra has been picking up the music rather quickly. The music seems to sit well with all of the instruments, which has been good to experience because it shows a general improvement in my orchestral writing. It is a very playable piece.

The challenges are always the same. Generally they are specific things such as bowing and phrasing for the strings, which is something that I consider a weak point in my orchestration skills. Although it is happening much less this time around, in the past it always takes a little bit of time to communicate the affect of the music to the players if the notated music does not communicate that obviously.

Steve helps an awful lot with this because he is such a sensitive musician that he can look at the score and understand what the underlying musical intention is. It is really an honor to work with him every time I get the chance. 

Composer Cwik's latest piece inspired by Arthurian legend
Stefan Cwik, composer

Stefan Cwik, composer

In The Sword in the Stone, a concerto for English horn and orchestra, composer Stefan Cwik uses the solo instrument as the “voice” of Merlyn the wizard, leading the way for magical adventures with talking animals and daring knights as he educates the future King Arthur in this famous story.

“The first thing I thought of with ‘The Sword in the Stone’ is that it has to be light, because the English horn is not a loud instrument,” he said, describing Merlyn’s voice as “low and lyrical, can be seductive, but is not shimmery or pretty.”

The challenge, he said, was for the English horn and the orchestra to “have a conversation without the soloist being drowned out.”

Cwik, 29, is no stranger to Symphony Parnassus, which has premiered his Concert Dances for Orchestra, as well as his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. He has a degree in composition from San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a master’s degree in composition from the Juilliard School in New York, where he won the Juilliard Orchestral Competition for two consecutive years.

Originally from Chicago, Stefan came to San Francisco to study guitar performance at the conservatory, but found his true calling when he switched to composition. He cites influences such as Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, Britten, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. He also likes a lot of American folk music, which finds its way into his compositions.

Though other members of his family played instruments, he is the first to have pursued a musical career. The son of a lawyer (his father), and a retired judge (his mother), Stefan said he feels fortunate that his parents valued education and encouraged his interest in music. He studied trumpet and guitar growing up. “I am lucky,” he said. “I got the extra push to do it, but no one ever had to make me practice. I always wanted to do it.”

Stefan Cwik, Stephen Paulson, and Russ deLuna discuss Cwik's English horn concerto during rehearsal

Stefan Cwik, Stephen Paulson, and Russ deLuna discuss Cwik's English horn concerto during rehearsal