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Musicians Celebrate Theodore Antoniou

BU prof retires after 30 years — tribute concert today at 4

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Nannan ZhongTheodore Antoniou

Click to hear Theodore Antoniou’s Suite for Violin and Harpsichord V.

To his students, Theodore Antoniou’s name says it all. “He’s Professor Antoniou — a legend,” says Justin Casinghino (CFA’09). “He’s fantastic.”

Antoniou will retire this year after 30 years at Boston University and a career of composing, conducting, and serving as a professor of composition in the College of Fine Arts and the music director of BU’s contemporary music ensemble ALEA III.

CFA honors Antoniou with a concert and celebration today at 4 p.m. in the CFA Concert Hall. The event will include student performances, a slide show, and tributes from Antoniou’s friends and peers, including John Silber (Hon.’95), president emeritus of BU, and Walt Meissner (CFA’81), dean ad interim of CFA.

“His creation and leadership of ALEA III and its acclaimed international composition competition have attracted the world’s leading composers to work with our students,” says Meissner. “Theodore always puts the needs of our students first and has been invaluable to the reputation of the school of music.”

Antoniou studied violin, voice, and composition at music schools around the world. He has conducted several orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players, the National Opera of Greece, and the Berkshire Music Center Orchestra. Before coming to Boston University in 1978, he taught at Stanford University, the University of Utah, and the Philadelphia Musical Academy.

He has composed a wide variety of works, from opera to film scores, and has been commissioned by major orchestras around the world, including a commission to write a cantata for the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Well-known compositions include Protest I and Protest II, and his most recent opera, the award-winning Oedipus at Colonus. He has won many awards and prizes over the course of his career, among them the Music Award from the Greek Academy of Arts and Letters and the Richard Strauss Prize. In 2004, he was awarded the Herder Prize for his contributions to the cultural heritage of his Greek homeland and to improving the cultural understanding of European countries and their peaceful interrelations. In 1991 he received a Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching, one of BU’s highest teaching awards, and in 2005 CFA gave him its Distinguished Faculty Award.

Perhaps Antoniou’s most impressive contribution is his continued support of new music, exemplified by the contemporary music ensembles ALEA II, which he founded at Stanford University, and ALEA III, which he founded at Boston University. “Something very important must be said about Antoniou,” says Luiz Castelões (CFA’09). “He gives performance opportunities to all his students by commissioning works that he premieres with his ALEA III ensemble. There’s nothing more important than this in the life of a young composer.” In a concert earlier this week, Antoniou premiered several pieces written by BU students, including Castelões and Casinghino.

Although his students are sad to see him go, they are grateful for having had the opportunity of working with him. “Professor Antoniou is known for asking ‘What’s next? What else do you have?’” says Casinghino. “There was one time I worked really hard over the weekend, and I brought in a lot of new good music. And before the lesson even started he looked at it and said, ‘This is great, there’s so much here, excellent.’ We went through the lesson and at the very end he looked at me and said, ‘Yeah, but this is all? What’s next?’ He pushes his students to the end, and they are thankful for it.”

Theodore Antoniou: Celebration and Tribute is at 4 p.m. today, March 25, at the CFA Concert Hall, 855 Commonwealth Ave. Admission is free and open to the public.

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

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