Composers Festival spotlight: New Muse Piano Duo

The New Muse Piano Duo is another relatively recent addition to the University of Missouri’s ensembles in residence, and will be making their Mizzou International Composers Festival debut this year as part of Friday’s “Mizzou New Music” concert.

Individually, Paola Savvidou serves as assistant professor of piano pedagogy at Mizzou, while Jonathan Kuuskoski is an assistant teaching professor and director of entrepreneurship and community programs.

Savvidou received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and earned MM and DMA degrees in piano performance and pedagogy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while Kuuskoski earned both a BA in music and an MBA from UNC-Greensboro, and an MM from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

As a performing duo, they specialize in music of the 20th and 21st centuries, seeking to expand the repertoire available for four hands and two pianos by performing newly composed works across the United States and abroad.

During their inaugural season in 2013-14, the New Muse Piano Duo toured with a program consisting exclusively of new works by living composers, selected from a call for scores that drew more than 90 submissions from across the Americas and Europe.

They also did guest artist residencies at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington, Truman State University, Missouri State University, and the Ionian University in Corfu, Greece, as well as a lecture recital at the European Piano Teachers Association Conference in Oslo, and guest artist recitals at the European Association for Music in Schools Conference and Biennial Euro-Mediterranean Musicological Conference at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus.

This past season, the Duo has premiered new works by Amy Williams, Jeffrey Hoover, Robert Honstein, and Haley Myers in performances in Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Baltimore.

Before coming to Mizzou, they helped found the New Music Everywhere ensemble, based in Madison, WI, collaborating with composers including Laura Schwendinger, Jeff Herriott, and Robert Honstein, visual artist Shinique Smith; with faculty from UW-Madison and UW-Whitewater; and with Madison-based troupes including the Deer Heart Dance Company, The Weather Duo, Mad Town Ballroom, and the UW First Wave Hip Hop Learning Community. Kuuskoski and Savvidou also have performed across the Midwest with the UW-Madison Contemporary Chamber Ensemble.

You can hear samples of the New Muse Piano Duo’s music in the embedded SoundCloud players below.