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Composition professor Jöel-François Durand named Interim Director of School of Music

Submitted by Joanne De Pue on March 1, 2022 - 9:31am
Faculty composer Joël-François Durand. Photo: Steve Korn.
Faculty composer Joël-François Durand. Photo: Steve Korn.

University of Washington Professor Joël-François Durand has been named interim director of the School of Music in the wake of the unexpected death on Feb. 1 of former director JoAnn Taricani. College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dianne Harris announced the appointment on February 2 in an internal email to School of Music faculty and staff.

“The College leadership is committed to ensuring that the School of Music has strong unit-level leadership during this time of transition,” Harris wrote. “We are pleased to announce that Professor Joël-François Durand has agreed to serve as interim director of the School of Music through the end of June 2022. We are grateful for his willingness to step into this role on short notice at a sorrowful and difficult time, and for his many years of experience serving as the School's associate director.” 

A member of the School of Music Composition faculty since 1991, Durand composes works for solo instruments and ensembles and has created numerous commissioned works for significant ensembles worldwide. Recent projects for Durand include a work for large orchestra, Tropes de : Bussy, based on some of Debussy’s piano Préludes, commissioned by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, which premiered the work in 2019. His composition Geister, schwebende Geister, for viola and ensemble (written for faculty violist Melia Watras in 2020) won first prize at the 2021 European Composer Competition organized by the Franz Schubert Konservatorium, Vienna, Austria, in the Category Chamber Music.

Besides being an inventor of large-scale music works, Durand is also an inventor of audio hardware. In 2010, he designed and started commercial production of an audio tonearm for record players called the Talea, followed by development of three further models, the Telos, the Kairos, and the Tosca, all aimed at consumers of high-end audio reproduction systems. For his work at his company Durand Tonearms LLC, he was made a University of Washington Entrepreneurial Fellow in 2010.

As associate director of the School since 2002, Durand supervised the advising office and helped students resolve issues regarding grading or other academic issues. In one of his first acts as School of Music director, Durand appointed Jazz Studies Associate Professor Ted Poor to the associate director role, in which he will serve through June 2022. Leadership plans for the School of Music beyond June 2022 have not yet been announced.

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