Chris Rutkowski enjoys multiple musical careers as a contemporary classical composer, a jazz pianist, a recording engineer and a music technologist. As a composer, he has been performed internationally, and has received numerous awards and commissions. These include the Individual Artist Fellowship of the Indiana Arts Commission/National Endowment for the Arts, and awards from the Michigan Music Teachers Association, the Illinois State University Fine Arts Festival, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), and the Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship of the Arts Council of Indianapolis. Recent pieces include: Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble (2008), Spirals (2006) for both string quartet and string orchestra, Passages (2005) and Divertimento (2002, rev. 2006) for the Ronen Chamber Ensemble, The Waking (2000) for chorus and clarinet premiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Dervish (1999, rev. 2006) for saxophone quartet premiered in Philadelphia and New York City and broadcast by the Israel Broadcast Authority and NHK Radio Japan, and Symmetries (2000) premiered by the Indiana University Symphony Orchestra. His work has been described as "haunting" (Indianapolis Star) and another "crackling performance" was labeled "the most interesting of this season's premiers by any sponsor in any venue" (NUVO, Indianapolis). NUVO's Tom Aldridge wrote, "With Passages, Rutkowski delivers another winner-repeating his 2002 success in this series."
Recordings include his arrangement of "How Long Has This Been Going On", commercially released by Centaur Records, and ranked as one reviewer's "favorite non-Gershwin Gershwin on the disc" (www.Classical.net). In 2008, he arranged and led the trio on vocalist Heather Ramsey’s jazz CD, So Many Stars. Dervish was released on Tom Walsh’s CD Intersections (Arizona University Recordings) in 2010, and a new piece for cello and piano has been commissioned by the Tescarollo Audi Duo for an upcoming CD.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Rutkowski was raised in Ohio and Michigan. He studied Philosophy at Kings College London, UK, concentrating on the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein and working intensively with Rush Rhees, Wittgenstein's literary executor. Upon returning to Detroit, he began a long period of work as a professional jazz pianist, performing with legendary trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, at several Montreux/Detroit Jazz Festivals, and touring with Motown recording artists, The Temptations. Rutkowski continues to perform extensively in the Indianapolis area, where he has been featured in two television programs produced by WTBU (Indianapolis). Each has received numerous broadcasts, including prime-time slots on the Indianapolis PBS affiliate WFYI. At IPFW, he performs with the Faculty Jazz Combo and teaches jazz piano. A final career turn to the world of classical composition began with graduate studies at Eastern Michigan University with Anthony Iannaccone, continuing with doctoral work at Indiana University and private study with Pulitzer Prize and Oscar winning composer, John Corigliano.
An organic extension of his work as composer and performer is Rutkowski’s embrace of music technology. Fluent in sequencing and virtual instruments, he has written for television, provided virtual orchestrations to CD recordings, and enhanced audio recordings of his own work to provide conductors and performers with clear guides to his work. He has engineered hundreds of recordings at IPFW since arriving there in 2009, where he leads the recording area. Rutkowski has often been invited to serve as guest composer at institutions such as the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, Youngstown State University and the East Asian Contemporary Music Festival in Miyazaki, Japan. He currently serves as Clinical Assistant Professor of Music Composition and Technology and Director of the IPFW/Sweetwater Music Technology Program at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne. He begins a three-year term of Editor of the Music Business and Industry component of the College Music Symposium in November 2012.