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SMU Music Composition Grad student Jesus J. Martinez to premiere new work with Irving Symphony, Feb. 8

Harmonic Tremor Created on Commission Through Unique Student Composer-in-Residence Program

Jesus J. Martinez, a master’s student graduating this May from the music composition program at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, will have his new work Harmonic Tremor premiered by the Irving Symphony Orchestra (ISO) during its season concert on February 8. The premiere is the result of a unique partnership between SMU Meadows and the orchestra: the SMU Student Composer-in-Residence program. Each year, a Meadows music composition student is selected to serve as a composer-in-residence with the orchestra and to create a commissioned work to be premiered by the ISO. Launched in 2011, it is the only known program of its kind between a professional orchestra and a university music department.

Martinez was chosen for the honor in 2013 and worked on Harmonic Tremor for 10 months. Scored for a full orchestra, the work is a musical expression of harmonic tremor, the continuous vibration of the ground due to release of seismic energy just before a volcanic eruption. The piece moves through three thematic sections, from the dormant stages of the volcano to the harmonic tremors to the final eruption.

“I feel very honored and humbled to have been selected as composer-in-residence for this program,” says Martinez. “Not many composers my age are given such an amazing opportunity to have a professional orchestra perform their commissioned piece and to work one-on-one with a noted conductor. It’s a dream come true for me, and an important step in what I hope will be a long career in music composition.”

“Jesus is one of the most highly productive, hard-working and creative composers we have had at SMU,” says Robert Frank, associate professor of composition and one of Jesus’s principal teachers. “He has completed a wide range of excellent works and was featured in SMU’s ‘Emerging Sounds’ concert in the fall. His talents are already being recognized both nationally and internationally. He is definitely a young composer to watch!”

While earning his undergraduate degree in music education at UT Arlington, Martinez won the school’s ACES President’s Award for his composition Threnody for 9/11; the work received its world premiere at UTA on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with the UTA Chamber Orchestra and Arlington Boys and Girls Choir. He also received a commendation from the Texas State Legislature for the piece. In addition, he has been commissioned to score several feature length films, including The Okra Principle (2009), which was presented at the Los Angeles Film Festival; Mystery of Birds (2011), which won the Africa Movie Academy Award for “Best Film by an African Living Abroad”; and Take the Spotlight (2013), featuring Glenn Moreshower (Transformers, 24), Lynn Whitfield (Tyler Perry films) and J-Si Chavez (Kidd Kraddick Show), which will premiere in spring 2014 in Dallas, Houston and Africa. An accomplished percussionist, Martinez has numerous percussion compositions published by C. Alan Publications and is an educational artist with Vic Firth Drumsticks and an educational representative with Marimba One.

An annual competition to select the ISO composer-in-residence is held by a committee composed of two members of the SMU composition faculty and ISO Music Director Hector Guzman, who earned a Master of Music in instrumental conducting at SMU in 1983. The winner is usually chosen each spring.

Martinez is the third SMU student selected for the program. The first was Vince Gover, whose “Let Us Begin Anew…” (a quote from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech) premiered in November 2011 at an ISO concert honoring the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s inauguration. The second winner, Alvin Trotman, premiered Jubilee in November 2013.

The Irving Symphony Orchestra is a professional orchestra providing signature performances for North Texas and regularly features renowned guest artists. In addition to Martinez’s work, the February 8 concert will present Ravel’s Bolero and 12-year-old violin virtuoso Claire Wells performing Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2.

Upcoming concerts will feature Mariachi Vargas, considered one of the world’s top mariachi groups, on March 7 & 8, and Carmina Burana on April 12 featuring soprano and Meadows alumna Bronwen Michelle Forbay.

All Irving Symphony concerts take place at 8 p.m. in the Irving Arts Center, 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd., Irving, Texas, 75062. Tickets are $37-$47, students $10 (except Mariachi concert – all seats $50). For more information, call the Irving Arts Center Ticket Office at 972-252-2787, or purchase tickets online at

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