Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Music Ron Smith has been awarded a com­mis­sion by the Fromm Music Foun­da­tion — North­eastern University’s first fac­ulty member to win this honor.

The Har­vard University-​​based foun­da­tion chose only 12 of more than 200 appli­cants for a com­mis­sion, which grants a com­poser the money to create a work of his or her choice and have a musi­cian or ensemble bring that music to life.

Smith will com­pose a piece for Vicky Chow, whom he met a year ago at an elec­tronic music fes­tival at the Bei­jing Con­ser­va­tory in China, where she per­formed a piece of his music. Chow is the key­boardist for the New York-​​based con­tem­po­rary chamber music ensemble Bang on a Can All Stars, which is part of the renowned con­tem­po­rary orches­tral group Bang on a Can.

Smith will spend the next year working on a 25-​​minute piece using a mix of piano and inter­ac­tive electronics.

To work with a very accom­plished per­former and with inter­ac­tive elec­tronics in that sit­u­a­tion will be quite inter­esting, espe­cially for such a large piano piece,” he said.

Chow will play a key­board con­nected to a com­puter, which will respond in a pre-​​determined way based on the soft­ware Smith will create using the music pro­gram­ming lan­guage Max/​MSP.

In her live per­for­mance she could, for example, play a single piano chord and the computer’s pro­grammed response might be to play back an entire scale or a violin solo, Smith explained. The soft­ware, which will be cal­i­brated to adjust to Chow’s tempo in real time, adds to the com­plexity of the piece, as Smith will have to elec­tron­i­cally create and design the sound for each instru­ment he incorporates.

The Fromm com­mis­sion marks the start of an eventful year for Smith. In Feb­ruary and March the San Fran­cisco Con­tem­po­rary Music Players will pre­miere Smith’s “Four Move­ments” and in April the Del Sol String Quartet will per­form his 16-​​minute long “String Quartet No. 3 (with electronics).”

He is the only North­eastern pro­fessor to win recog­ni­tion from the Barlow Endow­ment for Music at Brigham Young Uni­ver­sity, which com­mis­sioned the string quartet piece.