DMA Student Craig Peaslee Receives Presser Foundation Graduate Music Award

Craig Peaslee, DMA in Jazz Composition, is this year’s Presser Foundation’s $10,000 Graduate Music Award recipient.

Craig Peaslee, DMA in Jazz Composition, was selected as this year’s recipient of the Presser Foundation’s $10,000 Graduate Music Award. The funds will go to recording, producing, promoting, and releasing a professional studio album that addresses the sociopolitical issues reflected in two of his compositions. The album is anticipated to be released early in 2024.   

“The recording project stems from a commission I received in 2020,” says Peaslee. “The piece, entitled Fragile, premiered in April 2021. The commissioner and I thought we had something special, so we developed plans to record it as an album and submitted the work (or movements thereof) to numerous contests, competitions, and festivals where it has done quite well.” 

Last fall, Fragile won the American Prize in Instrumental Composition for Chamber Ensemble. Fragile focuses on Black Lives Matter, immigration, global warming, and the 2020 pandemic, while Rescue Me depicts the 20-year war in Afghanistan, a subject very close to his heart. Peaslee is a veteran, and he wrote this piece while an artist-in-residence in upstate New York when the war ended. Rescue Me debuted on September 12, 2021.   

The Presser Foundation, primarily committed to promoting the cause of musical education and musical philanthropy, invites graduate-level music schools at accredited colleges, universities, and independent institutions to participate. Every year, the Presser Foundation presents the Presser Graduate Music Award to an outstanding graduate music student whom they select. The award is designed to encourage and support the advanced education and career of truly exceptional graduate music students who have the potential to make a distinguished contribution to the field of music. 

“I cannot say ‘thank you’ enough times to Dean Shelton Berg, Dr. John Daversa, and Dr. Stephen Guerra for their support with this, and other, projects,” says Peaslee, whose career at Frost School of Music started last fall and looks forward to graduating in 2025, intending to secure a position in higher education.