Spotlight: Tracey Rush

Tracey Rush is founder and Executive Director of the Northeast Iowa School of Music in Dubuque. In addition to her teaching and administrative duties there, she is the orchestra director at Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School. She is also the founding director of the Dubuque Community String Orchestra. In March 2010, the Telegraph Herald (Dubuque) named Mrs. Rush “One of the most influential musicians of the Tri-States.” She served four terms as Chair of the Iowa Composers Forum and is a member of the American String Teachers Association, National Association for Music Education, and ASCAP. She is also former principal violist with the Dubuque Symphony.

Rush’s compositions have been performed all over the country and in several foreign countries. Her “Angels in the Snow” has been performed by several orchestras and choirs, including the Pittsburgh Symphony, Lucas Richman, conductor, and the Naples Philharmonic, Erich Kunzel, conductor. “Photographic Memories,” based on photographs of Muscatine native Oscar Grossheim, was premiered by the Muscatine (IA) Symphony in April 2010. The musical-comedy review Mothering Heights, which Rush co-wrote with Des Moines playwright Rebecca Christian, is published by Dramatic Publishing. Her song-cycle for treble choir, The Butterfly Garden, with texts by elementary students, won the 1999 Francis J. Pyle Commission Award, sponsored by the Iowa Composers Forum. Recent commissions include her “Celebration!” by the Cumberland County Middle School Youth Orchestra (MSYO) of Fayetteville (NC), and “Petite Allegro” by the Ames High School Orchestra in Ames, Iowa.

She has been a finalist in the Continental Harmony Project and Faith Partners Commissions of the American Composers Forum. In 2006, Mrs. Rush was invited to conduct the North Carolina Eastern Regional All-State String Orchestra. In March 2008, she conducted the Brookfield East (WI) High School Symphony Orchestra in a performance of her “Fantasia in F” at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Rush received her BS in Music Education from Bob Jones University and her MM from the University of Northern Iowa. Mrs. Rush and her husband, John, live in Dubuque where they raised their two sons. They now have the two most adorable grandchildren ever. Her biggest claim to fame, however, is being Michael Gilbertson’s first composition, violin, and viola teacher.

Original String Orchestra Works by Tracey Rush

Original Solo & Ensemble Works by Tracey Rush

Arrangements by Tracey Rush

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New Music Friday: The Picnic: Watch Out for the B’s

This piece tells the story of a picnic being interrupted by pesky bees. As time goes on, more and more bees can be heard, and every section gets a turn. Listen for the sounds of the bees as they travel around the orchestra. Most of the “buzzes” include the musical note B in the dissonant cluster of notes. This piece gives your students a chance to tell a story with their music. Invite the students to engage in the drama, looking nervously around or occasionally swatting an imaginary bee in front of their faces. The orchestra creates the narrative of happy picnic-goers having their beautiful day interrupted by pesky bees.

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New Music Friday

New Music Friday: Renegade Showdown

In Renegade Showdown, the violins battle the low strings in an epic clash. Hear the twists and turns each side takes as they vie for the win. This piece was composed to teach students to understand regular vs. low first finger. Bass students will benefit from identifying sections that will work well in half position.

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New Music Friday

New Music Friday: Aurora’s March

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s three masterpiece ballet scores, including Sleeping Beauty, are known for their timeless music. Only three years before the composer’s death, the ballet was first performed in 1890. The storyline for the Sleeping Beauty ballet was inspired by the Brothers Grimm adaptation of the folk tale first published in 1330. This arrangement for string orchestra captures the enduring melodies and great depth of Tchaikovsky’s geniu. Because much of Tchaikovsky’s style is not written with articulations, students will need assistance with the bow stroke in order to perform this incredible piece. This march, which follows the overture in the ballet, was renamed Aurora’s March for this arrangement.

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