Music grad awarded prestigious $100,000 fellowship at UCLA

Recent School of Music graduate Marcus Norris ’17 has been awarded the prestigious Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship at UCLA. He will receive a full scholarship and a $100,000 fellowship to pursue his doctorate in music composition.

Norris applied using his master’s thesis – a 12-minute work for chamber orchestra titled “Brown Eyes, Black Magic.” In the piece, Norris attempts to create a mysterious sound world where the listener focuses on the beauty of ever-shifting sonic colors. It pays homage to the “Black Girl Magic” campaign that CaShawn Thompson founded in 2013, which was used to empower women of color by highlighting their achievements in different fields.

Having formerly studied music technology recording, Norris earned his master’s in music composition at FIU. As part of the university’s New Music Miami ISCM Festival, Norris – encouraged by professor and FIU Composer-in-Residence Orlando Jacinto Garcia – participated in masterclasses with cutting-edge composers such as Augusta Reed Thomas.

“Dr. Garcia is unapologetic about demanding a lot from his composition students,” he said. “It’s a demanding program with a great deal of composing, performances, writing and deadlines. But if you’re able to work harder and meet these high standards, then you are more than adequately prepared to succeed going forward.”

It was through hard work and guidance from Garcia that Norris was able to win first prize in the 2017 Southeastern Composers League’s Philip Slates Memorial Competition for Graduate Students last March with his instrumental work “You haven’t Said a Word” for cello quartet.

The piece will premiere live this fall in Havana, Cuba. It is currently available on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube and other major retailers under the name Marcus Norris Orchestra.

With the money from the competition, Norris plans to start his own production company and record label, South Side Sound,…

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