Dr. Joe L. Alexander continues to expand his portfolio.
In the process, Alexander, a professor of music at Mississippi University for Women, keeps earning accolades as a world-renown composer.
Two of Alexander’s most recent compositions, “DJ2 Extravaganza” and “Ruffner Mountain Express” received Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters (MIAL) Award nominations in the Music Composition, Classical category.
“I am extremely happy to find out I had been nominated for the MIAL awards,” Alexander said. “I am very pleased with both of the pieces and look forward to getting them performed.”
This is the second time in as many years (and second overall) Alexander has been nominated for a MIAL Award. He is one of five people with ties to The W to be recognized for the annual awards. C.T. Salazar (“Headless John the Baptist Hitchhiking) and T.K. Lee (“Scapegoat”) were nominated in the Poetry category. Ian Childers (“Pots for Simon”) was nominated in the Visual Arts category, and Dr. Valentin Bogdan (“Three Songs on the Poetry of Mihai Eminescu”) was nominated in the Music Composition, Classical category.
The winners will be announced June 3 at the 44th Annual Awards Gala in Oxford.
“DJ2 Extravaganza” is a quarter for euphonium, two tubas and percussion. It was commissioned by James Gourlay, a world renown tubist, at the 2019 International Tuba/Euphonium Conference (ITEC) at the University of Iowa. Alexander said Gourlay, an adjunct professor of tuba at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh who also is a leading performer, teacher and academic and a member of some of Europe’s finest orchestras, suggested the instrumentation and that they try and schedule the piece for the next ITEC. There hasn’t been a live conference since the COVID-19 pandemic. The group would consist of Gourlay, Joanna Ross Hersey, Danielle Moreau and Danielle VanTuinen.
“Ruffner Mountain Express” is a six-part trumpet ensemble piece that earned its name from Ruffner Mountain, a privately held, 1,040-acre urban nature preserve in Birmingham). Alexander said he often performs in recitals with Dr. James Zingara, a trumpet teacher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and last December we played on a show in Gainesville, Georgia. While preparing for the concert, we talked about me writing a piece for his group, the UAB Trumpet Ensemble.
Alexander completed both pieces in late December 2022 and is looking forward to having both performed.
“I need to write large chamber ensemble pieces and both pieces fit that bill,” Alexander said. “Even more important that the piece, having James Gourlay ask to write a piece is a dream come true.”