Utku Asuroglu named a Guggenheim Fellow

Utku Asuroglu

May 3, 2024
Contact: Eric Stann, 573-882-3346, StannE@missouri.edu

Utku Asuroglu, a postdoctoral teaching fellow in composition at the University of Missouri, was recently named a 2024 Guggenheim Fellow in music composition. Asuroglu is the only 2024 Guggenheim Fellow from the state of Missouri. In all, only 188 individuals were chosen for this year’s prestigious award from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants.

“We are thrilled to hear that Dr. Asuroglu has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship,” said Stefan Freund, artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative. “I’m certain that he will use the opportunity to create another ambitious work of groundbreaking new music.”

Asuroglu said he was honored to be recognized for his work.

“I’m happy and appreciative of the support from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation,” Asuroglu said. “Music allows a composer’s legacy to live on forever.  Every time I hear my music played, I’m filled with energy and excitement, and it motivates me to keep creating new pieces of music here at Mizzou.”

Always discovering

At 4 years old, Asuroglu, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, would constantly visit his neighbor’s house to play the piano. His frequent trips eventually compelled his parents to buy a piano for their own home.

At an early age, Asuroglu was drawn to the classical music of Beethoven and Mozart — and he started his composition journey by adjusting their pieces to achieve different musical styles. Fueled by a constant thirst for knowledge in different art subjects such as literature, painting and film, he eventually transitioned into creating and performing entire compositions from scratch for all types of music ensembles to perform — from quartets to orchestras and symphonies.

While growing up nearly 6,000 miles from Columbia, Missouri, Asuroglu learned about MU through the Mizzou International Composers Festival as a teenager. Organized by the Mizzou New Music Initiative, the festival chooses eight resident individuals each year to compose new works of music premiered by ensemble-in-residence Alarm Will Sound.

After studying with some of the world’s leading composers and having his music performed by top orchestras and ensembles worldwide, Asuroglu joined Mizzou’s faculty in fall 2023 because of the university’s commitment to the arts.

One the main reasons Asuroglu decided to come to Mizzou was to help shape the next generation of composers. Specializing in teaching electronic music and composition in the School of Music’s composition department, Asuroglu is not only honing his craft; he's orchestrating a symphony of innovation — using new forms of technology to educate the next generation of musicians.

“As technology becomes more integrated in our lives, I feel like we should utilize it to its fullest potential,” Asuroglu said. “It’s exciting to teach Mizzou students how to use this tool to create electronic music.”

Asuroglu’s teaching position is fully funded by the Mizzou New Music Initiative, the direct result of generous support from Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

“We have a wonderful, well-funded composition program at Mizzou,” Asuroglu said. “I wanted to go somewhere where music is important, and I’ve found that here. I'm constantly discovering new things because curiosity is my most important talent, allowing me to expand my understanding of the world around me.”

Asuroglu will continue his to create an impact at Mizzou, as he was just named the newest MizzouForward hire, becoming the 21st MizzouForward faculty in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Read more on President Mun Choi's blog

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