The works of Dana Wilson have been commissioned and performed by such diverse ensembles as the Chicago Chamber Musicians, Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, Buffalo Philharmonic, Memphis Symphony, Washington military bands, Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Syracuse Symphony, and Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra. Solo works have been written for such renowned artists as hornist Gail Williams, clarinetist Larry Combs, trumpeter James Thompson, and oboist David Weiss.
He has received grants from, among others, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, Arts Midwest, and Meet the Composer. His compositions have been performed throughout the United States, Europe, and East Asia. They have received several awards, including the International Trumpet Guild First Prize, the Sudler International Composition Prize, and the Ostwald Composition Prize; are published by Boosey and Hawkes, Ludwig Music Publishers, and Dorn Publications; and can be heard on Klavier, Albany, Summit, Centaur, Innova, Meister Music, Elf, Open Loop, Mark, Redwood, Musical Heritage Society, and Kosei Recordings.
Dana Wilson holds a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music, and is currently Charles A. Dana Professor of Music in the School of Music at Ithaca College. He is co-author of Contemporary Choral Arranging, published by Prentice Hall/Simon and Schuster, and has written articles on diverse musical subjects. He has been a Yaddo Fellow (at Yaddo, the artists’ retreat in Saratoga Springs, New York), a Wye Fellow at the Aspen Institute, a Charles A. Dana Fellow, and a Fellow at the Society for Humanities, Cornell University.
Randolph Partain studied piano and composition at Florida Southern College (B.S.M., summa cum laude, 1995), and he received a Master’s Degree in Composition from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University (Houston) in May 2000, having studied under Richard Lavenda and Anthony Brandt. He has received two commissions from the Woodlands Symphony Orchestra (Texas): Landscape of a Lifetime, premiered in November 2003, and Dancers, premiered in February 2005. Early 2005 also saw his string quartet Seven Oblivions performed by the Eppes Quartet at Florida State University’s Festival of New Music. Last year, in addition to receiving a reading of his work Chronosphere by the renowned ensemble Speculum Musicae, Mr. Partain premiered his commissioned choir piece Emmaus and performed his work Faerie Ring for computer and live performer at the LaTex Electronic Music Festival hosted by Rice University. He also received a second performance of Kelevsma: a ritual piece for clarinet, harp, and double bass in 2004. During the summer of 2004, his song cycle Pax Americana: Songs of Protest received its European premiere in a public concert at the Antonin Dvo?ak Museum in Prague during his participation in the Czech-American Summer Music Institute’s Eleventh Annual Summer Program in Composition, directed by Ladislav Kubik. The short film Total Control (1999) by Houston-based Dominion Films featured clarinet and piano music by Mr. Partain, and his naked and fiery forms, for concert band, was premiered by Florida Southern College’s wind ensemble on the Spring Gala concert of 1998. From 2000 to 2002, he completed the course work for certification as a music therapist at Sam Houston State University. While in Houston, he has taught a variety of undergraduate music courses at Rice University, Sam Houston State University, and Houston Community College. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Composition at Rice University, under the tutelage of Arthur Gottschalk.
Dennis Livingston I came to cabaret and musical theater songwriting relatively late in life. This might seem strange when you know that I grew up in New York (at 562 West End Ave.) with a mother who had been a big band singer in the 1930s and a father who was a prolific and successful songwriter from that time through the 1960s. (For more about them, go to ABOUT JERRY.) But my own musical and professional tastes ran in other directions for a long time. Perhaps not entirely by chance, my musical interests veered completely away from my dad's world toward classical music and from piano, on which he was highly skilled, and on which I had the obligatory lessons, to flute, which became my main performing instrument.
This meant that when dad moved our family to Los Angeles in the early 1950s, I entered Beverly Hills High School (Class of 1957) oblivious to the charm and power of early rock & roll. I hung with my fellow musicians from the school orchestra who took the classics seriously. But my musical choices were even more esoteric than that, for a teenager. While almost everyone else was grooving on Bill Haley and the Comets, my passion was saved for 20th century tonal composers. I loved Bartok, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Copland, Hovhaness and that ilk. While I now listen to a very broad array of styles - including jazz and musicals, to which I was utterly indifferent as a kid - those early favorites still influence my work as a songwriter. (You can hear my pieces at the SONGS page.)
At the same time, it was apparent early on that I had a scholarly bent. I was studious, a voracious reader (mostly science fiction, then and now) and loved organizing information. After attending the University of California at Santa Barbara (Class of 1961), I fell into what seemed the obvious decision to become an academic and headed east to Princeton for graduate studies in political science. I ended up pulling together my interests in international relations, science and technology to write a PhD dissertation on the influence of technology on international law. Yes, I'm Dr. Livingston, sort of, but don't you dare try that one.
My academic career lasted from 1964 to 1989, taking me to the University of California at Davis, Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY), where I pioneered courses on future studies, science and government, and science fiction literature. When you contemplate that list, it's clear why my academic life eventually ran its course. I didn't fit in any respectable political science department nor did my writing match the expected mold. After my third denial of tenure, I got the message. Time to move on.
What does an ex-poly sci wonk do? I headed for Boston to live near my daughter and found a job for several years as a policy analyst in the state anti-poverty office. Though the work had its rewards, my timing was not propitious. The election of President Reagan, and an equally conservative governor in Massachusetts, led to the consequent decimation of many of our programs. I was not needed. Time to move on. What now?
It's the mid-1980s. There's this computer thing on the horizon. My trusty sci-fi antennas go up. Here's a machine that looks like it may change the future I've been reading about all my life. Surely there's some technology-policy angle I can exploit. I read a lot, talk to people, knight myself a guru on "the office of the future" and begin giving lectures and writing articles on this subject. This experience led me to my next career. Boston in the 1980s was a thriving center for the computer industry and its related trade press. I decided I could be a computer journalist and ended up at High Technology Magazine (a sister publication of Inc.) as Senior Business Editor. After a few years, the magazine folded and I became Senior Editor of Systems Integration (published by Cahners, a major trade press house). I hit a great groove at this place, traveling the country to develop case studies on the use of multi-platform computer networks in the business world, garnering on the way an award from the Computer Press Association in 1989 for best feature story of the year (a look at NASA's plans for a space station). But the trade press is a fragile beast, entirely dependent on advertising dollars. When those dried up, this publication could not survive. Time to move on. What's next?
Back to the future
By the early 1990s, my parents had died and I faced a big decision. During the past decade, I had been taking a growing interest in the business side of my father's career, which was focused on the company he had set up long ago to own, administer and promote his copyrights. At the same time, I had begun trying my hand at songwriting, first turning out two children's musicals, then working on cabaret songs. I had the option of selling my dad's catalog. Naw, think I'll hold on to it. Something told me nostalgia for music of the past was coming back as boomers aged and besides, this stuff is interesting. In a strange way, the kid who once wouldn't be caught dead whistling pop music ended up right back home. I appreciate the irony every day.
Ben Phelps was and raised in Sacramento, CA, Ben Phelps is active both as a percussionist and as one of Southern California s most exciting young composers. He is actively involved as a composer, performer, and technical director of the Definiens Project, an upstart Los Angeles nonprofit dedicated to redefining and reinvigorating classical chamber music. Through the use of themed concerts in less foreboding settings (non-traditional stages, night clubs), staged performances with movement and lighting, and collaborations with musicians from other musical genres, the group aims to breathe new life into 20th century chamber music with a distinct, Southern California bend. He is also the composer / co-sound-designer for the Rogue Artist s Ensemble, a pioneering theater / puppeteering troupe based in Orange County which was recently called by the LA Times the youngest, most buzzed about arrival on the Orange County Theater scene. His most recent work for the Rogue Artists, music to a wordless vignette The Dreams of Magdelena, was said to be sonically brilliant by the Orange County Weekly. He is currently spearheading a collaboration between the two groups, The Mysterious Adventures of Johnny Crumb, which will feature puppets, live actors, multimedia, live musicians on stage, and story and music by Ben Phelps. The project is being partly funded by the Opera Pacific opera company and is set to premier in July 2005.
As a performer, Phelps plays regularly in and around Los Angeles. He is a member of both the American Youth Symphony and the Young Musician s Foundation Debut Orchestra, two of the most prestigious pre-professional training orchestras in the country, has performed with the LA Chamber Singers, and countless other area community and regional orchestras. An accomplished marimbist, Phelps has premiered many of his own works, and was the percussion soloist for the world premier of the revised Cronica, a percussion concerto by Ian Krouse, in UCLA s Royce Hall. This past summer, he was the percussionist for the contemporary music ensemble at the Brevard Music Festival in Brevard, North Carolina, where he studied with percussionist extraordinaire Timothy Adams. Phelps is the youngest composer ever to be performed by the internationally acclaimed Verdehr Trio, a chamber group dedicated to new American music. His music has been programmed across the United States West Coast, from the Ashland New Music Festival in Ashland, Oregon to the Bakersfield Symphony New Music Group to the Las Vegas Music Festival. He is currently finishing a Master s Degree in Music Composition at the University of California, Los Angeles, where his major musical influences have been Ian Krouse, Paul Chihara, Susan McClary, and the late Jerry Goldsmith.
Martin Read studied music at the Colchester Institute, Goldsmiths College, London University, where he earned his Masters of Music in composition. In 1998 he became a Fellow of Trinity College of Music in London. He is currently Head the Music Department at Alton College.
In 2002 his opera, "dance to the end of time" toured Southern England to great acclaim.
He died in November 2012 at the age of 53.