Praised for “combining omnivory and brilliance” (The New York Times), four-time GRAMMY Award-nominated violinist and composer Curtis Stewart translates stories of American self determination to the concert stage. Tearing down the facade of “classical violinist,” Stewart is in constant pursuit of his musical authenticity, treating art as a battery for realizing citizenship. As a solo violinist, 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, he realizes a vision to find personal and powerful connections between styles, cultures and musics. The Strad described his playing as “profound and deeply moving,” while JazzTimes raved, “he shows his audience the colors inside of himself—color(s) not yet invented. Far from self-indulgent, it is self-revelatory. It is vulnerable. It is creation.” Stewart’s 2023 album of Love., a tribute to his late mother Elektra Kurtis-Stewart, has been nominated under Best Instrumental Solo in the 2024 GRAMMY Awards.
As a soloist, Curtis Stewart has been presented by Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Cal Performances, Washington Performing Arts, Virginia Arts Festival, The Juilliard School, and the 2022 GRAMMY Awards, among many others. He has made special appearances with Los Angeles Opera and singer-songwriter Tamar Kali; as curator and guest soloist with Anthony Roth Costanzo and the New York Philharmonic “Bandwagon,” touring performance installations from NYC’s Whitney Museum, Guggenheim Museum, and Museum of Modern Art; to MTV specials with Wyclef Jean; and sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden with Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, and Seal. Stewart’s 2021 album of quarantined song cycles and art videos, Of Power (Bright Shiny Things), was nominated for a GRAMMY Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo.
Stewart has been commissioned to compose new solo, chamber, and orchestral works by the Seattle Symphony, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall’s Play/USA, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and members of the New York Philharmonic, The Knights, La Jolla Music Society, Sybarite5, the New York Festival of Song, Newport Classical Festival, the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Eastman Cello Institute, and more. In 2022, he was named Artistic Director of the American Composers Orchestra, a national organization dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance, and promotion of orchestral music by diverse and innovative American composers. Among his recent commissions, he composed The Famous People, five recompositions of Dvorák’s Slavonic Dances, for a premiere by violinist Gil Shaham with the Virginia Symphony in March 2023.
Curtis Stewart is a member of award-winning ensembles, PUBLIQuartet (Chamber Music America Visionary award, winner Concert Artist Guild, 2023 Grammy Award Nomination) and The Mighty Third Rail (Best Music, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Comic Book Theater Festival). PUBLIQuartet’s album What Is American (Bright Shiny Things) was nominated for a 2023 GRAMMY Award. He has held chamber music residencies at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Sawdust, and made return appearances at the Newport, Detroit, Vision, NYC Winter Jazz Festivals. Curtis Stewart has worked with many of today's forward-thinking musicians, including Henry Threadgill, SilkRoad Ensemble, Jessie Montgomery, Alicia Hall-Moran and Jason Moran, Mark O’Connor, Julia Bullock, members of the International Contemporary Ensemble, Billy Childs, Alarm Will Sound, Linda Oh, JACK Quartet, members of Snarky Puppy, Don Byron, Matt Wilson, among many others.
An avid teacher, Curtis Stewart teaches Chamber Music, Improvised Chamber Music, and “Cultural Equity and Performance Practice” at The Juilliard School; directs the Contemporary Chamber Music program at the Perlman Music Program; served on the board of Concert Artist Guild; conducted several orchestras and opera pit orchestras; and for 10 years led all levels of music theory and string orchestra at the Laguardia High School for Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City.
Stewart was born into a musical family – his father is avant jazz tuba pioneer Bob Stewart and mother Elektra Kurtis, a soulful Greek jazz violinist – who formed the framework of his sound world through daring improvisation, rigorous western classical training, and conceptual composition. Learn more at www.curtisjstewart.com.