World-renowned composer, pianist to perform at Western

DANBURY, CONN. Piet Swerts, Belgian composer, conductor and pianist of international acclaim, will return to Western Connecticut State University for a January concert. WCSU Professor of Music Dr. Russell Hirshfield and Dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts Dr. Dan Goble together will perform the works that they have commissioned Swerts to compose.

Swerts will discuss his music and excerpts will be performed by Hirshfield and Goble at a concert preview at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 16, in Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the WCSU Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. The concert will be at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17, in Ives Concert Hall. Tickets are free for students, faculty and staff and $15/$10 for the public. They can be purchased at the door and also are available at or by calling (203) 837-TIXX.

Swerts has previously been a celebrated guest at Western where he has taught and performed with students, faculty and guest artists. Commissioned by Goble and Hirshfield, Swerts will return in acceptance of their two commissions and invitation to compose a new Piano Concerto. Swerts composed “Enigmatic Waltzes for Piano,” to be performed by Hirshfield and the “Hat City Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano” to be performed by Goble and Hirshfield in a world premiere. Music students and faculty also anticipate Swerts’ U.S. premiere of the commissioned “Piano Concerto No. 6,” to be performed by Swerts, accompanied by Hirshfield.

Swerts has an extensive catalogue that includes stage, orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal and piano works, with close to 200 compositions. He studied at the Lemmensinstitute in Leuven where he acquired 10 first prizes and made history by also receiving the special Prize Lemmens Tinel for composition and piano with great distinction. Swerts remains active with the University of Leuven, working as a professor at the university since 1982 and conductor of the Ensemble for Music from 1985 to 2005.

As a composer, he has received more than 10 awards including the Baron Flor Peeters Prize for his “Apocalyps I” and the Prize of the Belgian Artistic Promotion for his song “Ardeness.” He is frequently invited to be guest professor at prominent music institutes and conservatories around the world in locations including Amsterdam, Portugal, Spain, and Italy.  Swerts is especially known for his 1993 violin concerto “Zodiac,” which was selected out of 154 works from 28 countries and won him the Grand Prix as the compulsory concerto for the finals of the International Queen Elizabeth Competition for Violin. Another one of the many momentous occasions in Swerts’ career was the premiere of his large-scale opera at the Flemish Opera, “Les liaisons dangereuses,” which was declared one of the most remarkable events of the season by the British magazine “Opera Now.”

Continually commissioned for his musical talents, Swerts travels as a guest-conductor to countries including Austria, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Poland and China, where he conducted the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra with his own works and more recently in Caracas, Venezuela, where he conducted the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra. Swerts' piano concerto “Wings” has been performed in Belgium, Germany, France, Canada, Japan, Singapore and China after only one year after its creation.  He also been commissioned by famous musicians such as saxophonist Nobuya Sugawa, for whom he composed Dance of “Uzume,” recorded with the Tokio Kosei Orchestra in Japan.

Commissioned by countless esteemed musicians and ensembles including the Royal Orchestra of Flanders, the Opera of Antwerp, l’Orchestre de Strassbourg and the European Brassband Championships, Swerts has now composed for Western and will soon present these awaited compositions to the university.


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

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