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Intellect

BYU musician hits crescendo for third time with top award

  • Music professor Michael Hicks has won the Deems Taylor Award
  • It's the third Deems Taylor Award of his career
  • Hicks is one of the few in his field to have won the award as a book author, journal article author and article editor

Music professor Michael Hicks understands the importance of repetition.
He teaches music, he performs music, he writes music. He even writes about music.

It’s this last musical talent, for which Hicks is most widely known, that has allowed him to practice another noteworthy form of repetition: repeat winner.

For the third time in his career, Hicks has received one of the highest musicology honors, the Deems Taylor Award. Hicks was recognized for his third award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Thursday, Dec. 9.

Hicks won his 2010 Deems Taylor Award as the editor of a winning article published in American Music, where he has served as editor for the past four years.

“It’s a great honor to be asked to edit a scholarly journal of this stature, and to receive an award as editor is very gratifying,” Hicks said. Hicks is one of a very few in his field who have won the award as a book author, a journal article author and an editor.

The 25-year BYU School of Music veteran is also a singer-songwriter and a composer. His chamber and solo works have been performed and recorded by BYU artists and other performers around the country.

Hicks previously won Deems Taylor Awards in 1994 for a Musical Quarterly article and in 2003 as the author of the book Henry Cowell, Bohemian.

Hicks’ 240-page study of Henry Cowell details one of the first American composers celebrated for his unique techniques, such as experimental piano-playing that included pounding his fists and forearms on keys and plucking piano strings directly.

Hicks said winning the trio of Deems Taylor Awards is recognition, specifically, of good authorship. ASCAP has sponsored the awards for the past 42 years, recognizing American authors and publishers for outstanding books and articles about a wide variety of music topics.

“The respect that comes with these awards is synonymous with the respect that comes to good writing,” Hicks said. “Entries are not limited to any specific music topic or angle, so there is a greater focus on quality writing, fresh insight and thorough research.”

Hicks joined the BYU faculty in 1985 and is an accomplished writer and music historian.

He has authored three books to date: Mormonism and Music: A History (1989); Sixties Rock: Garage, Psychedelic, and Other Satisfactions (1999), and Henry Cowell, Bohemian, all of which have been published by University of Illinois Press.

Because of Hicks’ publishing history with University of Illinois Press, he was approached in 2006 about serving as editor for American Music for a three-year term, which was eventually extended to four years. Hicks will finish his tenure as editor at the end of 2010.

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