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Opus 5: Episode 3: Activism Through Music

Op. 5, Episode 3 is an unabridged interview with Curtis Stewart. Curtis is a Grammy Award-nominated violin soloist, composer, Artistic Director of the American Composers Orchestra, professor at The Juilliard School, and member of award-winning ensembles PUBLIQuartet and The Mighty Third Rail. Through his innovative performances, recordings, and compositions, he is “in constant pursuit of his musical authenticity, treating art as a battery for realizing citizenship.”

Curtis Stewart
Photo by Titilayo Ayangade

It was both a pleasure and honor to speak with Curtis about his amazing projects, including his Grammy Award-nominated new album “Of Love,” dedicated to the memory of his late mother, Greek violinist Elektra Kurtis, who passed away from glioblastoma brain cancer. Curtis’ vulnerability really shined through as we broached the uncomfortable topic of loss and grief, as well as the power of music to share stories, and really nurture a healing space for ourselves and others.

We also unpacked some of the ways in which Curtis “realizes citizenship” through music by “turning people’s heads” towards salient social issues, and expressing his own lived experience through art and mindful programming.

Curtis Stewart is Music Director of Many Messiahs, which centers the voices of creators who have historically been marginalized in classical music. Justin Kurys and Sarah Pizzichemi from Skyros Quartet are a part of this project which borrows source material from Handel’s Messiah to write all-new songs, drawing out the historic themes of activism and awakening to a better future. The world premiere will be held at Meany Center for the Performing Arts on December 16, 2023 at 7:30 pm. Tickets can be found HERE, and are pay-as-you-wish.

Many thanks to Curtis for taking time out of his busy touring schedule to share his journey with us. His experience continues to inspire us to “realize our citizenship” through art. Our conversation was insightful and inspiring, and we can’t wait to see where Curtis’ creative adventures lead next!

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