stephen karukas

percussionist / composer / programmer

Stephen Karukas is a recent graduate of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he received degrees in music composition and percussion performance, with additional studies in computer music, computer science, and jazz studies. He has studied drumset with Steve Houghton, percussion with Kevin Bobo, John Tafoya, and Joseph Gramley, and composition with Claude Baker, P.Q. Phan, and Don Freund. He also attended Interlochen Arts Academy as a student of John Alfieri. He has been a performance fellow at nief-norf and a student in electronic music programming at IRCAM (Paris, France).

With work ranging in style from ambient and meditative to impressionistic to excitingly rhythmicKarukas has composed music for ensembles such as Fifth House Ensemble, the Indiana University Percussion Ensemble, and California-based ensemble Definiens. He has also produced solo and duo works through collaborations with Daniel Myers (Elements for multiple percussion solo), the Hutchens/Myers Duo (It flows for saxophone and marimba), Jacob Lipham (Bad Number for solo timpani and To Live and Die in the Wild for multiple percussion solo), and Paul Millette (blue-gray for solo marimba). Recently, blue-gray received the Honorable Mention in the 2019 PASIC Composition Contest. Other honors include Honorable Mention in the 2018 SCI/ASCAP Student Commission Competition and selection in multiple calls for scores by various ensembles in the United States and abroad.


His music has been performed at universities around the United States and at events such as RED NOTE Music Festival, the Midwest Composers Symposium, Frontwave New Music, and the Navy Band Saxophone Symposium. Recent highlights include a performance of his orchestral work In a Breath, Ending by the Indiana University Concert Orchestra and a performance of Elements for multiple percussion solo by percussionist Cameron Leach at the TUTTI Festival at Denison University.

In addition to composition, Karukas is a percussionist, having performed as an orchestral percussionist with the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, and the Carmel Symphony Orchestra in Indiana. As a member of Indiana University's top ensemble the Philharmonic Orchestra, he performed under the baton of artists such as Carl St. Clair (Pacific Symphony), Franz Welser-Möst (Cleveland Orchestra), Giancarlo Guerrero (Nashville Symphony), Federico Cortese (Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra), and Marzio Conti (Oviedo Filarmonia).

Karukas performed at PASIC 2018 as a member of the Indiana University Percussion Ensemble, premiering new works by Brian Blume and Kevin Bobo as one of three undergraduates in the ensemble. He has also performed as a drummer in jazz combos at Indiana University, as well as in the IU Opera Theatre's production of The Music Man and IU Theatre's production Stardust Road featuring the music of Hoagy Carmichael.

His works are available from Tapspace and C. Alan Publications, as well as from his website, skarukas.comHe also maintains an active YouTube Channel of his performances and compositions, including a 2018 project arranging and recording selected Poemes and Preludes of Alexander Scriabin. He currently works as a Spring 2020 Undergraduate Instructor in the computer science department at IU.

© 2020 Stephen Karukas (

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