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Northwestern University music professor, composer Lee Hyla dead at 62

Updated: June 21, 2014 10:38PM

Leon Joseph “Lee” Hyla, a Northwestern University professor and contemporary music composer, has died in Chicago at age 62.

The university announced the June 6 death after hearing the news from Mr. Hyla’s wife, Katherine Desjardins. The university gave no cause of death.

Mr. Hyla composed for artists such as the Kronos Quartet, Midori and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. His music has been recorded on labels including Nonesuch, New World, Avant, Tzadik and CRI.

He came to Northwestern in 2007 after teaching at the New England Conservatory. He had studied composition there and at the State University of New York Stony Brook. AT Northwestern, he held the Wyatt Chair in Music Theory and Composition.

Bienen School of Music dean Toni-Marie Montgomery said Mr. Hyla was an inspirational teacher and an award-winning composer who commanded respect from the professional musical community.

Mr. Hyla also composed for ensembles including the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Speculum Musicae.

Mr. Hyla created a 10-minute score called “Field Guide” in 2006 for which he listened to ornithological recordings to capture the sounds of a variety of birdcalls.

Mr. Hyla recently served as composer-in-residence for the Etchings Festival in Auvillar, France. And he was chosen as an Aaron Copland fellow at the Bogliasco Foundation in Genoa, Italy.

Mr. Hyla was born in 1952 in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and grew up in Greencastle, Ind.

He is survived by his wife, Katherine Desjardins.

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