David’s Severance (concerto for saxophone quartet and wind ensemble) was named one of three finalists for the 2022 American Bandmaster’s Association Sousa/Ostwald Prize. David’s Michigan State University colleague Zhou Tian was awarded the prize for his Sinfonia.
David will join renowned saxophonists from around the country in Norman, Oklahoma as the featured composer for the 2022 Great Plains Saxophone Workshop at the University of Oklahoma. Faculty include the H2 Quartet, Joseph Lulloff, Nikki Roman, Christopher Creviston, Stephen Page, Jordan Lulloff, John Nichol, and Hannah Creviston. David will present his creative work and teach composition lessons, and there will be a recital featuring his music.
In considering 259 applications in our General and LDS commissioning programs, the Endowment granted $60,000 to 9 composers who will write works for the following ensembles and musicians:
David Biedenbender (Haven Trio), Dorothy Chang (Evelyn Glennie and Land’s End Ensemble), Natacha Diels (JACK Quartet), Stefan Freund (Splinter Reeds), Todd Kitchen (Left Coast Chamber Ensemble), Wang Lu (Seattle Modern Orchestra), Lansing McLoskey (Network for New Music), Joseph Sowa (Room 1078), and Ethan Wickman (San Antonio Symphony).
The judging panel included the Endowment’s Board of Advisors: Neil Thornock, Chen Yi, Ben Sabey, Benjamin Taylor and Miguel Del Aguila; and four guest judges: Tania León (who served during Prize deliberations), and Kristin Kuster, Lisa DeSpain, and Chance Thomas (who served during General Commission deliberations). John Kendall Bailey (Oakland Symphony Orchestra), Paul Finkelstein (St. Paul Chamber Orchestra), Gavin Chuck (Alarm Will Sound), and Paul Silverthorne (London Sinfonietta) represented the performing consortium in selecting the Barlow Prize.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory has selected David as its 2021-22 guest composer. The program, now in its second year, provides a composer the opportunity to interpret Fermilab research through music and celebrate the relationship between art and science. Read more.
A few months ago I asked my friend and colleague Justin Emerich if he would be willing to record my short fanfare Spiral for eight trumpets. Not only did he say yes, but he asked a few of his friends to help… It turned out…REALLY well. 😁
Michael Sachs – Principal Trumpet, Cleveland Orchestra
Adam Luftman – Principal Trumpet, San Francisco Opera & Ballet
Michael Tiscione – Associate Principal Trumpet, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
David Gordon – Principal Trumpet, Seattle Symphony
Billy Hunter – Principal Trumpet, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Justin Emerich – Associate Professor of Trumpet, Michigan State University
Mark Maliniak – 4th/Utility Trumpet, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Jack Sutte – 2nd Trumpet, Cleveland Orchestra
And special thanks to Patrick Oliverio for the video & editing!
Tyler Austin and the Maryland Chamber Winds commissioned Kairos for their 2020 virtual season. They assembled this performance remotely, with each player recording their part from a different location.
Austin Smith, oboe | Brian Do, clarinet | Jeffrey Leung, alto sax. | Tyler Austin, bassoon | Danny Mui, bass cl.
2020 has been a strange and difficult year. The loneliness of time in quarantine is unlike anything I have experienced. Time seems to travel differently, perhaps more slowly at times and at other times more quickly—its arrow seems jagged, bent, and off course. Kairos is an Ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical, or opportune moment. It is a different kind of time than Chronos, which is our more conscious and common understanding of time, measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, and so forth. In the Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy Kairos describes the intersection of the Liturgy with the Infinite—with God. An integral aesthetic principle of cathedrals is an attempt to sonically connect with something massive, something larger than ourselves—the Infinite. Bissera Pentcheva, an art historian at Stanford University, writing about the Hagia Sophia (built in 537 as the largest Christian Church in the Byzantine Empire), translates a 6th-century description of the building by Paul the Silentiary in this way: “human action…brings into presence the divine reaction, the divine voice…in a sense that is the reverberation of the space: After the human voice stops singing, the building continues.”
Many concert halls share a similar sonic aesthetic principle. I miss these spaces. I miss the resonance of concert halls and churches. I miss the energy and excitement when people gather together and can not only hear but also feel the air molecules moving around them, and they can see how and why and by whom these sounds are made. I miss the way in which these spaces activate sound waves, sending them bouncing frenetically from wall to wall, arch to edge, and then gently dissolve—each molecule hitting another, each collision becoming slightly less energized than the last until only a shadow of the sound remains. Then, even the shadow disappears, and profound silence inevitably crawls out of the cracks and crevices of these cavernous spaces and becomes a fast and fizzy flood, a cool, fresh bedsheet of air molecules draped over us. We feel the heaviness of sound in its sudden absence. Its weight in the silence. And then we remember the silence before sound. It was a different silence. It felt different. Or maybe we felt different?
I miss simply sharing these spaces—these experiences—with other people. With friends. With family. With acquaintances. With strangers. There is something very special about sharing sound in a particular time and place. This piece is my humble attempt to weave the threads of these ideas and of our disconnected realities into a single strand—a shared moment—and to sing a space—our time and space—into resonance.
Watch David’s interview with MCW’s saxophonist Jeffrey Leung here.
 New York Times, August 6, 2020, “How a Historian Stuffed Hagia Sophia’s Sound Into a Studio”
Unquiet Hours received the 2019 Sousa/Ostwald Prize from the American Bandmasters Association.
Listen to the United States Air Force Band’s extraordinary performance of Unquiet Hours below.
United States Air Force Band; Colonel Don Schofield, conductor
Unquiet Hours was commissioned by the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic.