Steven L. Ricks received his early musical training as a trombonist in Mesa, AZ. He holds degrees in Composition from Brigham Young University (BM), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (MM), and the University of Utah (PhD). He received a Certificate of Advanced Musical Studies from King's College London in 2000, supported by a Graduate Research Fellowship from the University of Utah. His teachers include Morris Rosenzweig, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Bill Brooks, and Michael Hicks.
Ricks has received various awards and honors, including First Prize in the 1999 SCI/ASCAP Student Composition Competition and three Barlow Endowment Commissions. He has been to the Composers Conference at Wellesley College and his works have been performed by many leading contemporary music ensembles and performers including Speculum Musicae, the New York New Music Ensemble, Earplay, the Talujon Percussion Quartet, Rachel Rudich, and pianist Ian Pace. He currently directs the Electronic Music Studio at BYU and is co-director of the Utah Crosstalk electronic music concert series.Ricks, along with fellow BYU faculty members Christian Asplund and Thomas Durham, received the 2004-2005 American Society of Composers Authors and Publisher Award.
In 2007, Ricks' composition, Extended Play, was performed by visiting jazz ensemble Flexible Music. This piece was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition.
In 2009 Ricks received funding from the Laycock Center for Creative Collaboration in the Arts to write Medusa in Fragments, for pianist Keith Kirchoff. He also collaborated with BYU faculty author Stephen Tuttle, soprano Jennifer Welch-Babidge, and filmmaker Ethan Vincent to complete the project. The piece premiered on January 26, 2011 at the University of Toronto New Music festival. It later was performed in Belgium, Germany, and at BYU.
In 2010 Ricks received the Fromm Foundation commission for a new work to be performed by the Talujon percussion quartet. That same year Ricks procured funding from both the Barlow Endowment and the Laycock Center to organize a residency for the NY Piano Trio at BYU on February 23-24. He was also commissioned to write a new sonata for the NOVA Chamber Music Series. It premiered in March 2011 at the Libby Gardner Concert Hall at the University of Utah campus.
In 2011 Steve composed a song as part of the Heloise Crista Project. This project was funded by the Laycock Center. Heloise Crista is a former dancer who switched to sculpting part-way through her life. Pam Musil, Associate Professor in the Department of Dance and director of the project, was amazed when she saw Crista's work and decided to head a dance concert based on the different sculptures. The project involved over sixty-five collaborators--including student choreographers and composers, faculty choreographers and composers, lighting and set designers, student cinematographers, dancers, and more. Those involved with the project had the opportunity to travel to Arizona to see Heloise's work and to interview and talk with her about her work. The whole process was documented with extensive filming, which was produced into two short documentaries to be shown on BYUtv, and a third that was shown at the National Dance Education Organization Conference in October 2012. The project culminated with a themed dance concert, entitled Transformations, which was presented at four sold-out performances. Heloise herself was able to attend one performance. This project had extensive local impact in the Department of Dance, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, and across campus.
That same year Ricks collaborated with Neil Thornock to complete the Matthew Coley Residency Project, funded by the Laycock Center. The project brought award-winning percussionist Matthew Coley to BYU for a few days. While he was at the school he performed new pieces composed by Thornock and composition students. Part way through the week Coley and Thornock recorded Thornock's two percussion pieces, dulci and Litany for John Cage; this first recording was the beginning of a more extensive collaboration to record all of Thornock's pieces for a CD to be released at the end of 2012.
Coley also spent time coaching and teaching students in the art of the hammered dulcimer. He gave a masterclass and worked through rehearsals with percussion students. His residency concluded with a performance of Steve Mackey's Micro-Concerto, a chamber work with solo percussion, presented by Coley and five of the college's top instrumentalists, under Ricks' direction.
In 2013, he brought the Amsterdam-based ensemble Hexnut, who he had worked with two years before to produce WRENCH, to perform in a residency hosted by BYU. WRENCH is a collaboration of composers who wrote works inspired by photographs by Edward Burtynsky. In concert, the photos are then "choreographed" in a multimedia presentation. The residency included lectures, workshops, and a final presentation of WRENCH in the De Jong Concert Hall. Burtynsky's work was displayed in the BYU Museum of Art during the residency (and for months before and after).
To listen to clips of his music and find out more information, visit www.stevericks.com