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Composer Spotlights

In these composer spotlights, Bandology is pleased to highlight more than 50 composers who inspire us and come from communities which are too often underrepresented. Each composer spotlight includes a bio, photo and links to their personal website and/or a sample of their work.

Additionally, we’ve highlighted some resources for educators and students to learn more about marginalized identities in composition, both in the past and present.

This is by no-means a definitive list but a handy resource for those who are interested. If you have any comments or questions, or know of a composer who should be added, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@bandology.ca.

Keiko Abe

Keiko Abe  is a marimba player and composer and appears regularly throughout the world in performances of solo concertos, chamber music and improvisations.  She is also in demand as a guest lecturer and has given masterclasses in leading music conservatories across the globe. She has received numerous awards, including induction into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame Award.

Abe’s compositions have become some of the standards of marimba literature and can be heard in recitals by marimbists all over the world.  In addition to her work as Professor of Marimba at Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, Abe maintains a full schedule of composing and touring.

Here is a performance of her marimba concerto The WAVE Impressions for solo marimba and wind orchestra, performed by Keiko Abe and the St. Ursula Eichi High School Wind Orchestra, conducted by Masaki Endoh.

Caroline Kyung Ahn

Caroline Kyung Ahn is a composer and currently works as an Assistant Professor and Artist in Residence at Anderson University.  Born in Seoul, Korea, Ahn holds a Bachelors of Music in Composition from Yonsei University, Masters of Music and Masters of Arts in Composition and pedagogy of Theory from the Eastman School of Music and a Doctor of Music Arts from Indiana University. Her compositions include orchestral, chamber and theatrical works that have been widely performed in South Korea, the United States, Europe and South America.

Here is the Anderson Symphony Orchestra playing the 2nd Movement of Ahn’s Summer Sketches. 

Eleanor Alberga

Eleanor Alberga is a composer born in Kingston, Jamaica. Alberga decided at the age of five to be a concert pianist, though five years later she was already composing works for the piano and she has cemented a reputation as a composer of international stature.  In 1970 she won the biennial Royal Schools of Music Scholarship for the West Indies and in 2020 received the honour of Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.

Alberga’s String Quartet no. 2 was commissioned and premiered by The Smith Quartet in 1994. Here is an extract from the recording session of the piece.

Peter Ashbourne

Peter Ashbourne is one of Jamaica’s leading contemporary composers, arrangers and songwriters. Ashbourne holds a Bachelor of Music (composition) degree from the Berklee College of Music, holds a LRSM (Performance) diploma in violin and also plays the piano. Ashbourne received many music awards, including awards for advertising, theatre and a Jamaica Music Industry Composing Award and  medals in The Caribbean Song Festival as a composer and the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Music in 2004.

One of his biggest works is a reggae opera entitled Mikey, based on the life of dub poet Mikey Smith, which premiered in 2012. The libretto was written by Mervyn Morris.

Stephanie Berg

Stephanie Berg is a composer who has written for large and small ensembles, including the Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association, Parkville Symphonic Band, DDG Oboe Trio, Columbia Civic Orchestra, Mizzou New Music Ensemble, Ninth Street Philharmonic and University Philharmonic of Mizzou. Berg earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Missouri.

Here is a recording of her piece Freeway, commissioned by St. Louis Low Brass Collective.

Carol Brittin Chambers

Carol Brittin Chambers is currently on the music faculty at Texas Lutheran University and is the owner and composer of Aspenwood Music. Chambers is commissioned each year to compose and arrange works for concert band, marching band and various other ensembles. She has arranged and orchestrated marching shows for numerous high school bands across the country, as well as The Crossmen Drum Corps. Her concert works are published under Carl Fischer, RBC and Aspenwood Music. She received a Master of Music in Trumpet Performance from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Music Education from Texas Tech University.

Click here to see Chamber’s piece All for One, One for All performed by the Trade Winds Ensemble, conducted by Daniel Schmidt.

Dorothy Chang 🇨🇦

Dorothy Chang is a composer and Professor of Music at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Chang’s catalog includes over seventy works for solo, chamber and large ensembles as well as collaborations involving theatre, dance and video. Her music has been featured in concerts and festivals across North America and abroad, with performances by the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and Chicago Civic Orchestra, among many others.

Canadian Music Centre BC, in partnership with Redshift Music Society, presented a new online concert series called Unaccompanied. It featured video recordings of live performances of Canadian works written for solo instruments and includes Chang’s Still for solo oboe.

Joseph Chiu 🇨🇦

Joseph Chiu is a Canadian composer currently based in Toronto, Ontario whose body of work includes music for concert and film. His music has been presented and recorded by artists and ensembles both domestically and internationally, including performances at the Tippet Rise Art Centre (Montana). He recently completed a residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. His love for artistic creation extends beyond just music and is reflected in his enthusiasm for cross-disciplinary collaboration. Joseph’s work blends his love for the sensitive and intimate with the vibrant and dynamic. He studied at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Victoria.

Here is Chiu’s piece Coloured-in Black and White, written for and performed by Continuum Contemproary Music as part of the Canadian League of Composer’s PIVOT program in 2021. Record at the Canadian Music Centre in Toronto.

Dong-In Danny Choi 🇨🇦

Dong-In Danny Choi is a young composer and performer based in Vancouver. He has collaborated with various professional ensembles including the Vancouver and Victoria Symphony Orchestras and the UBC Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra, among many others. Largely self-taught in composition, orchestration and various instruments including piano, clarinet, guitar, drums, saxophone and cello.

Choi was the winner of the 2019 Canadian Band Association Howard Cable Memorial Prize in Composition for his piece, Remembrance.  Click here for a performance by the UBC Symphonic Wind Ensemble as part of their annual reading sessions, conducted by Lauren Visel.

Viet Cuong

Viet Cuong is an American composer whose music has been performed on six continents by musicians and ensembles such as Sō Percussion, Eighth Blackbird, Alarm Will Sound, Sandbox Percussion, PRISM Quartet, Albany Symphony, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Minnesota Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony and Dallas Winds, among many others. Cuong’s music has been featured in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and Library of Congress and his works for wind ensemble have amassed hundreds of performances worldwide, including at Midwest, WASBE and CBDNA conferences. Viet is currently finishing his PhD at Princeton University and holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music, Princeton University and Peabody Conservatory.

Cuong’s piece Re(new)al is a concerto for percussion quartet, was commissioned by the Albany Symphony and GE Renewable Energy and dedicated to Sandbox Percussion. Here is a performance of the piece, being performed by the Epoch Percussion Quartet and Dallas Wind, conducted by Jerry Junkin.

Brent Michael-Davids

Brent Michael-Davids is a concert and film composer, co-director of the Lenape Center in Manhattan and works as an Indigenous American music specialist, consultant and educator. Michael-Davids co-founded the Native American Composer Apprentice Project and serves on the Institute for Composer Diversity’s Executive Council. Davids holds a Bachelors of Music in Composition from North Illinois University and a Masters of Music in Composition from Arizona State University.

Click here to see Michael-Davids’ Fluting Around, a modern concerto for flute and orchestra. It was funded  by Margaret Cornils Luke in memory of her aunt Gertrude Cornils and  by the College of Visual and Performing Arts of Northern Illinois University.

Kevin Day

Kevin Day is a composer, conductor and multi-instrumentalist from  Arlington, Texas. Day is currently attending the University of Georgia working on his Master of Music in music composition. He currently studies with composer Peter Van Zandt Lane and conductor Cynthia Johnston Turner and received his Bachelor of Music Performance Degree from Texas Christian University. A winner of the BMI Student Composer Award, Day has composed over 150 compositions and has received numerous performances across the U.S., Austria, Australia, Taiwan and South Africa, as well as commissions for a wide variety of new works.

Here is a performance of his composition A Hymn for Peace performed by the Ball State University Symphony Band, guest conducted by Cynthia Johnston Turner.

Nicole DeMaio

Nicole DeMaio teaches at Boston College High School and is also the Executive and Artistic Director of the Black Sheep Contemporary Ensemble. Originally from Bogota, Colombia, DeMaio grew up in New Jersey. She received her Masters of Music in Composition from The Boston Conservatory. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Music Theory and Composition from Montclair State University. DeMaio has received many awards including the 2013 and 2014 Grand Prizes for the “Pictures Composition Contest” and has been selected twice as a winner of Vox Novus’ “Fifteen Minutes of Fame” Composition Contests.

Here is her Brass Quintet No. 1, performed by Brass Force Five.

Cris Derksen 🇨🇦

Cris Derksen is a half-Cree, half-Mennonite, two-spirit Juno Award–nominated cellist and composer. Derksen is known for their unique musical sound which blends classical music with traditional Indigenous music. Click here for a video of Orchestral Powwow being performed at the Vancouver Island Music Festival.

Derksen also writes for soloist electric cello.  Click here for a video of Derksen playing their piece Water Bourne on the electric cello.

O’Neal Douglas

O’Neal Douglas is a composer who writes for a variety of vocal and instrumental musical ensemble types including wind band, orchestra, choir, and chamber music.  He has received numerous commissions and his compositions have been performed throughout the United States and Europe.

In 2001, he was the recipient of Louisiana Tech University’s Bandsman of the Year Award, given annually to outstanding alumni. He is a two time winner of the Michigan State University College of Music Honors Competition in Composition. Douglas holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from Michigan State University, a Masters of Music from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Arts from Louisiana Tech University. He currently serves as Assistant Band Director for the Lake Cormorant Schools in Mississippi.

Click here for his piece Harriet, inspired by the life and work of Harriet Tubman.

Roshanne Etezady

Roshanne Etezady is a composer and an active teacher. Etezady has taught at the Interlochen Arts Camp, Yale University, Saint Mary’s College and the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. She has given master classes at Holy Cross College, the Juilliard School, and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. Etezady holds academic degrees from Northwestern University and Yale University, and she has worked intensively with numerous composers, including William Bolcom, Martin Bresnick, Michael Daugherty, and Ned Rorem. She completed her doctorate at the University of Michigan in March, 2005.As a young musician, Dr. Etezady studied piano and flute and developed an interest in many different styles of music.

Here is a video of the premiere of her piece Storm Warning, premiered this year (2020) by the University of Michigan Symphony Band conducted by Michael Haithcock, with the Akropolis Reed Quintet.

Gabriela Lena Frank

Composer Gabriela Lena Frank won the Eddie Medora King Award at the Butler School of Music at The University of Texas at Austin for 2020-2021 and has been included in the Washington Post’s list of the 35 most significant women composers in history. She attended Rice University in Houston, Texas, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts (1994) and a Masters of Arts (1996) and received a Doctor of Musical Arts (2001) in composition from the University of Michigan.

Frank’s piece Apu: Tone Poem for Orchestra, was commissioned by Carnegie Hall. Click here to watch Marin Alsop lead NYO-USA in a performance of the piece.

Insiya Foda 🇨🇦

Insiya Foda is a Canadian concert and film composer. Her portfolio includes works written in a range of musical styles: orchestral, percussive, synth and hybrids of styles that blend and cross through musical worlds. Within the film world, Foda adapts her music to what best suits the screen and storyline. Foda holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Western Ontario. While she often visits her home in Toronto, she is currently based in New York, as a student in the NYU Steinhardt Screen Scoring program.

Monsoon in the Meadows, was premiered by the grade 11 music class of T. A. Blakelock High School in Oakville, Ontario, in June 2019.

Jennifer Higdon

Jennifer Higdon is an American composer who is a three-time Grammy winner, has received a Pulitzer Prize, and holds the Rock Chair in Composition at the Curtis Institute of Music. Her works represent a wide range of genres, from orchestral to chamber, to wind ensemble, as well as vocal, choral and opera. Higdon’s list of commissioners is extensive and includes the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony and President’s Own Marine Band, among many others. Higdon taught herself to play flute at the age of 15 and began formal musical studies at 18, with an even later start in composition at the age of 21.

Here a video of her piece blue cathedral being performed by the New England Conservatory Prep School’s Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, which was originally commissioned by The Curtis Institute of Music to commemorate its 75th anniversary.

Anna Höstman 🇨🇦

Anna Höstman is a Canadian composer whose works have been performed throughout Canada and internationally. Alongside pieces for chamber ensemble, voice, orchestra, solo performers and opera, she has composed for dance, installation, theatre, experimental film and video, and created music for the National Film Board. Supported by a SSHRC Joseph Bombardier scholarship, Höstman achieved a Doctor of Musical Arts in composition from the University of Toronto and did her graduate studies at the University of Victoria. Höstman is a recipient of the K.M. Hunter Award, the Canadian Music Centre’s Toronto Emerging Composer’s Award and a Chalmers Professional Grant.

Click here for her piece ghosts of swallows performed by members of Continuum Contemporary Ensemble. You can also hear her talk about the piece and its inception at the beginning of the video.

Salvador Alan Jacobo

Salvador Alan Jacobo is a composer originally from Portales, New Mexico. Jacobo has composed music for an array of musical settings from wind ensembles to brass ensembles to marching band and studied music composition at Eastern New Mexico University. He has also been the guest conductor for various public school bands such as the Portales Junior High Band, the Portales High School Band, and the 30th Biennial Eastern New Mexico University Alumni Band.

Click here for Colors Ever So Vibrant (2017). It premiered in 2019 by the Mid America Freedom Band, conducted by Lee Hartman and is dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community.

Jennifer Jolley

Jennifer Jolley is a West Texas-based composer of vocal, orchestral, wind ensemble, chamber and electronic works. Jolley’s works have been performed by ensembles worldwide. One of her most powerful pieces is The Eyes of the World Are upon You, commissioned by The University of Texas at Austin Wind Ensemble.

It was inspired by an article she read in the New York Times entitled “Texas Lawmakers Pass a Bill Allowing Guns at Colleges,” which stated that students and faculty members at universities in Texas could be allowed to carry concealed handguns into classrooms and other campus buildings. In a grim coincidence the article also noted that the new campus carry law would go into effect on the fiftieth anniversary of the UT Tower Shootings, the country’s first campus mass shooting. Jolley notes that this piece is a celebration of life: to those who died that day, but also to those who survived.

Here is a video of the University of North Texas wind orchestra performing the piece, conducted by Andrew Trachsel.

Emily Koh

Emily Koh is a Singaporean composer based in Atlanta and is Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Georgia’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music. She is the recipient of many awards including the Copland House Residency Award, Young Artist Award, Yoshiro Irino Memorial Prize, ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, Prix D’Ete and PARMA competitions.

Koh received a Bachelor of Music from the National University of Singapore, Masters of Music from the Peabody Institute, Masters of Music Composition and Theory from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in Music Composition and Theory from Brandeis University.

Click here to see Koh’s piece diver[city] for wind ensemble, performed by the University of Georgia Wind Symphony, directed by Jaclyn Hartenberger.

Kristin Kuster

Kristin Kuster is a composer based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she is an associate professor and chair of composition at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance. Kuster was awarded one of the highest honors the University of Michigan bestows upon junior faculty — a 2015 Henry Russel Award. The award recognizes faculty early in their academic careers who already have demonstrated an extraordinary record of accomplishment in scholarly research and/or creativity, as well as an excellent record of contribution as a teacher.

Here is a recording of her piece Lost Gulch Lookout performed by the University of Georgia Wind Ensemble, conducted by John P. Lynch.

Kathryn Ladano 🇨🇦

Dr. Kathryn Ladano has established herself as one of Canada’s foremost bass clarinetists. As a specialist of contemporary music and free improvisation, Ladano is a dynamic soloist and in-demand collaborator. Ladano holds a PhD from York University, a Masters in bass clarinet performance from the University of Calgary and an Honours Bachelor of Arts in music from the University of Waterloo. She is currently the Artistic Director of NUMUS concerts and the Director of ICE (Improvisation Concerts Ensemble). She is an instructor of improvisation studio at Wilfrid Laurier University and of the bass clarinet at the University of Waterloo. To learn more about  Ladano, check out an interview we did with her on our series, What’s Your Forte?

Click here to see Ladano’s improvisation in action during an improvised bass clarinet solo. This performance was originally a part of the NUMUS/Open Ears Fundraiser concert, produced in partnership with Fluxible and broadcast on June 7, 2020.

Nicole Lizée 🇨🇦

Nicole Lizée is an award winning composer and video artist. Her work ranges from orchestra to solo turntable where she features DJ techniques that are fully notated and integrated into a concert music setting. Lizée received a Master of Music degree from McGill University in 2001. After a decade and a half of composition, her commission list of over 50 works is varied and distinguished and includes the Kronos Quartet, Carnegie Hall, New York Philharmonic, BBC Proms, San Francisco Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Banff Centre, among many other groups.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Kronos Quartet commissioned a piece entitled Black MIDI for solo string quartet, orchestra, soundtrack and video (2017).

Allison Loggins-Hull

Allison Loggins-Hull is a flutist, composer and producer who performs and creates music of multiple genres. She has performed at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall (Chicago), World Cafe Live and several other major venues and festivals around the world.

Hull’s piece Homeland was commissioned by The Texas Flute Society for the 2018 Myrna Brown competition. It is a work for solo flute that is meant to question the meaning of home when it is in political turmoil, devastated by a natural disaster or a human disaster.

Alexina Louie 🇨🇦

Alexina Louie is one of Canadaʼs most sought after composers. She has written for many of the countryʼs leading soloists, chamber ensembles, music groups and orchestras. Louie has twice won Juno awards for Best Classical Composition. In 2002, Louie was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honour. She is also a recipient of the Order of Ontario, a Queenʼs Golden Jubilee Medal, as well as the Queenʼs Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Click here to watch Triple Concerto For Three Violins And Orchestra, which was a joint commission by the Toronto Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Montreal Symphony for their three concertmasters, (Jonathan Crow, Yosuke Kawasaki and Andrew Wan). The piece was performed by all three orchestras during Canada’s celebratory 150th anniversary year.

Morgan Lovell 🇨🇦

Morgan Lovell is an improviser, composer and cellist based in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada. She received her Bachelor of Music from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2019. Lovell has had the opportunity to perform several works by both Canadian and international composers at the Open Ears Festival, Between the Ears Festival and in various shows presented by NUMUS Concerts in Kitchener-Waterloo.  has co-created and presented concerts of contemporary music in Kitchener-Waterloo as a member of The Yacht Club, which is a collective of local composers/performers. Lovell is also a member of the Kitchener-Waterloo based indie/folk band Safe as Houses.   

Here is a recording of Revolve performed by Morgan Lovell, Isaac Maliach, Dylan Murphy, Chris Yoon, Jeremy Hunter at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2017.

Stephanie Martin 🇨🇦

Stephanie Martin is a Canadian composer, conductor and associate professor of music at York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design. She is also director of Schola Magdalena (a women’s ensemble for chant, medieval and modern polyphony), conductor emeritus of Pax Christi Chorale and past director of music at the historic church of Saint Mary Magdalene in Toronto.

Martin recently wrote an opera entitled Llandovery Castle. It centres on the 14 nurses of a Canadian hospital ship in the first World War. The libretto was written by Paul Ciufo. Click here for the full staged performance of the opera, performed by Opera Laurier, directed by Liza Balkan and conducted by Associate Professor Kira Omelchenko.

Shelley Marwood 🇨🇦

Shelley Marwood is a Canadian composer of contemporary concert music, currently based out of Toronto. She has written works for orchestra, wind ensemble, opera, choir, chamber ensembles and solo instruments, with performances across North America and in Europe. She has had works commissioned and performed across North America and in Europe by ensembles including the Vancouver, Winnipeg and Windsor Symphony Orchestra. Marwood holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Toronto, Masters of Music from the University of Calgary, Bachelor of Musicthe University of Windsor and an A.R.C.T. in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music.

Here is a recording of her composition On A Whim, played by University of Windsor Wind Ensemble, conducted by Ric Moor.

Nebal Maysaud

Nebal Maysaud is an award-winning queer Lebanese Druze composer based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Maysaud is a recipient of the first Kluge Young Composer’s Competition and the James Ming Prize in Composition at Lawrence University, Maysaud converges Western and Middle Eastern classical music. They hold a B.M. in Music Composition from Lawrence University.

Their piece On the Mountains of Orphalese… was inspired by a work by the Lebanese poet, Khalil Gibran. In its premiere at Lawrence University, Nebal spoke about it’s inception. Here is a link to the premiere (56:00) and Maysaud’s introduction (52:20).

Dylann Miller 🇨🇦

Dylann Miller is a composer for media and stage, as well as a singer and songwriter presently based in Toronto, ON. Her work as a composer encompasses mediums such as documentaries, animation, drama and music for video games. Dylann has a passion for creating new and unusual sounds and incorporates many of her own vocals and customized instruments into her scores, resulting in fresh, dynamic pieces. Her LGBT+ focused opera, The Covenant premiered, in June 2018 in Waterloo region, where much of her music has its roots. She was won awards from Arcady’s Young Composer Competition (2017) and the SOCAN Foundation (2016), and she has participated in a variety of workshops including the 2020 Piano Lunaire Composer’s Symposium. Following the end of her undergraduate degree at Wilfrid Laurier University, Dylann embraced opportunities as a freelance artist before commencing post-graduate studies at Sheridan College in the Music Scoring for Screen and Stage program.

Here is Miller’s piece Arches in the Undercurrent for solo piano performed by Stephanie Chua, written as part of the Piano Lunaire’s Inaugural Composer’s Symposium.

Jessie Montgomery

Jessie Montgomery is an acclaimed composer, violinist and educator. She is the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation and her works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her work interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular, improvisation, language and social justice, placing her squarely as one of the most relevant interpreters of 21st-century American sound and experience.

Did you know that you can strum violins, viola and cellos? Montgomery explores that technique in her piece Strum. Click here for a performance by her ensemble Catalyst Quartet.

Jocelyn Morlock 🇨🇦

Jocelyn Morlock is a Juno award-winning composer. She has worked with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as their first female Composer-in-Residence (2014-2019), after completing her term (2012-2014) as inaugural Composer-in-Residence for Vancouver’s Music on Main, co-host of ISCM World New Music Days 2017.

Her awards include a Juno for Classical Composition of the Year; the Western Canadian Music Award for Classical Composer of the Year; the Jan V. Matejcek New Classical Music Award (SOCAN); and the Barbara Pentland Award for Outstanding Contributions to Canadian Music (Canadian Music Centre). Morlock has a Bachelor of Music in piano performance at Brandon University. She received a Master’s degree and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of British Columbia.

Here is a performance of Morlock’s composition Solace, performed by the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, featuring concertmaster Scott St. John and principal cellist Richard Belcher.

Kelly-Marie Murphy 🇨🇦

Composer Kelly-Marie Murphy was born on a NATO base in Sardegna, Italy, and grew up on Canadian Armed Forces bases all across Canada and is now based in Ottawa. She began her studies in composition at the University of Calgary and later received a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Leeds.

In 2017, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra commissioned Murphy to write a piece to celebrate Glenn Gould’s 85th birthday and the 70th anniversary of his debut performance with the TSO. The piece that came of this was Curiosity, Genius, and the Search For Petula Clark. In this piece, Murphy wanted to explore the difference between the public perception of Glenn Gould and how Gould perceived himself.

Gary Nash

Gary Powell Nash, a native of Flint, Michigan is Professor of Music at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he teaches and coordinates courses in music theory, technology, composition, applied woodwinds and conducts the Fisk Jazz Ensemble.  Nash holds a Ph.D. in Music Composition from Michigan State University.

Nash has composed for orchestra, wind ensemble, choir, art songs, electroacoustic works and instrumental chamber compositions, including short film scores. His music has been performed in all major regions of the United States and abroad on the continents of Asia and Europe. He has received numerous grants, commissions and awards for his compositions including the 2007 UNCF/Mellon Foundation Faculty Seminar in Ghana.  Others include Tennessee Music Teachers Association Composer of the Year, 2005-6, Mississippi Arts Commission, American Composers Forum, Carnegie Hall and Fulbright.

Here is an encore performance of Nash’s composition Kora’s Song and Dance, performed by the Belmont University Wind Ensemble, Dr. Barry Kraus, conductor.

Bongani Ndodana-Breen

Bongani Ndodana-Breen is a South African-born composer, musician, academic and cultural activist. He has written a wide range of music encompassing symphonic work, opera, chamber music and vocal music.

His piece African Kaddish was written as a tribute to the bravery and courage of African children and unborn infants fighting AIDS. It was commissioned by SAMRO and premiered by the South African National Youth Orchestra. Click here to see the piece performed by the NC Governor’s School Orchestra, conducted by Orlando Cela in 2018.

Cait Nishimura 🇨🇦

Cait Nishimura is a Canadian composer, songwriter and music educator based in Toronto. Known for writing melody-driven, programmatic music, Nishimura has quickly established herself as a prominent voice in the concert band community. Her music has become increasingly popular among middle and high school music programs and new works are regularly commissioned by ensembles and individuals around the world. Her music has been presented at The Midwest Clinic, MusicFest Canada and numerous other conferences and festivals across North America.

In 2019, the Ontario Band Association commissioned her work Intrinsic Light in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Ontario Music Educators Association. In this video you can hear Nishimura talking more about the piece and the 2019 Ontario Provincial Honour Band performing Intrinsic Light. 

William Owens

William Owens is a music educator and is very active as a composer, clinician and conductor throughout the United States and Canada. Owens has written over 200 commissioned and published works for concert band, string orchestra and small ensemble. His music is performed and appears on required music lists nationally and abroad.  Principal commissions include those from the California Band Directors Association, the Iowa Bandmasters Association, the South Plains College (TX) Department of Fine Arts, the College of Charleston (SC) and Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity.

Click here for a performance of Quicksilver (Galop) by Glendale Community College Community Band.

Nova Pon 🇨🇦

Nova Pon is a composer based in Canada. She has composed in genres ranging from orchestral, chamber music, wind band and choral works, to collaborations with film and dance, to educational and amateur musicians. Her education includes an undergraduate music composition degree from the University of Calgary and graduate studies at University of British Columbia and workshops including film scoring studies at New York NYU/ASCAP Foundation Film Scoring Workshop. Her music has been performed on four continents, by performers such as Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Kensington Sinfonia, Ensemble Resonance, Rubbing Stone Ensemble, Ensemble Paramirabo and Erato Ensemble.

Here is Mark Takeshi McGregor performing Pon’s work for solo flute, Wrenegade.

Elizabeth Raum 🇨🇦

Elizabeth Raum has a career in music that has spanned over 45 years as an oboist and is one of Canada’s most eminent composers. Raum has earned commissions from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, St. Lawrence String Quartet, Symphony Nova Scotia, Calgary Philharmonic, CBC, Hannaford Street Silver Band, Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and Regina Symphony Orchestra, as well as many other performing organizations and individuals. Her music is played all over the world in concerts and festivals.

Click here to see the 2019 Canadian Women’s Brass Collective perform her Festival Fanfare for Brass and Percussion, which was written in 1998 and commissioned by the Saskatchewan Festival Association for Brass and Percussion to celebrate their 90th anniversary.

Parisa Sabet 🇨🇦

Award-winning composer Parisa Sabet writes music that is commissioned and performed internationally. Sabet earned a Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees in composition from the University of Toronto, where her honours included the Mirkopoulos and Miller/Khoshkish fellowships and the Tecumseh Sherman Rogers Graduating Award given to a musician on the cusp of making important contributions to the field. She completed her Bachelor of Music degree with honors at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Here is her choral composition Thousand Candles written for SATB, performed by the mass choir, conducted by Lorraine Manifold at the 2016 Australian Baha’i Choral Festival.

Alex Shapiro

Alex Shapiro was born in New York and is currently based on San Juan Island in Washington State. She studied at the Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music. Shapiro is known for her acoustic and electroacoustic works published by Activist Music LLC. Her compositions are performed and broadcast daily and can be found on nearly thirty commercial releases from record labels around the world.

Her electro-acoustic composition LIGHTS OUT written for concert band and prerecorded track. In this multi sensory experience, the lights get turned off and then the musicians turn on lights on their instruments, mallets and the conductor’s baton. Click here for a performance of this piece by the University of Memphis Symphonic Band.

Bright Sheng

Bright Sheng is a composer whose stage, orchestral, chamber and vocal works are performed regularly by performing arts institutions and artists worldwide. In addition to composing, Sheng enjoys an active career as a conductor and concert pianist and frequently acts as music advisor and artistic director to orchestras and festivals. Sheng has been teaching composition at the University of Michigan since 1995, where he is the Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Music.

Here is his piece Shanghai Overture, performed by The United States Marine Band,  guest conducted by Gerard Schwarz.

Bekah Simms 🇨🇦

Juno award-nominated composer Bekah Simms hails from St. John’s, Newfoundland but is currently based in Toronto. Her music has been widely broadcasted in Canada and the United States, performed across Canada, the U.S., Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Lithuania and the U.K. and interpreted by a diverse range of top-tier performers including Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, Continuum Contemporary Music, Victoria Symphony Orchestra and TorQ Percussion Quartet=.

Have you ever wondered what amplified flute with electronics might sound like? Here is a video of Simms’ 2017 piece, Skinscape being performed by Amanda Lowry during the 2019 JUNOfest Classical Showcase presented by CBC Music and the Canadian Music Centre in London, Ontario.

Linda Catlin Smith 🇨🇦

Linda Catlin Smith grew up in New York and lives in Toronto. She studied music at SUNY Stony Brook and at the University of Victoria. Her music has been performed and recorded by orchestras, symphonies, opera, quartets and many other ensembles across the world.

In 2005 her work Garland (for Tafelmusik) was awarded Canada’s prestigious Jules Léger Prize. In addition to her work as an independent composer, she was Artistic Director of the Toronto ensemble Arraymusic from 1988 to 1993 and was a member of the ground-breaking multidisciplinary performance collective URGE from 1992-2006.

Click here for a performance of Orient Point (2016) for string orchestra.

Chari Glogovac-Smith

Chari Glogovac-Smith is a queer African-American composer, songwriter, vocalist, instrumentalist and film maker. Glogovac-Smith holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Electronic Music and Recording Media from Mills College and is currently working on their Ph.D. in Experimental Arts and Digital Media at the University of Washington. Their body of work includes fixed media pieces, transformative field recording compositions, classical ensemble works and electronic acoustic hybrid creations.

Click here to see their piece Identity, featuring Glogovan-Smith as the vocalist in an ensemble with violins, saxophone, piano, cello, electric guitars, drums and a dancer.

Lindsay Stetner 🇨🇦

Lindsay Stetner is a composer, performer and educator in Regina, Saskatchewan. Stetner received her Bachelor of Music Composition from the University of Regina in 1999 and her Masters’ of Music Composition from the University of Calgary in 2002. Stetner has a wide variety of works for varying ensembles including small ensembles, orchestral, choral, band and on-site theatre productions. Over the years, her works have been played by the Regina Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and university, high school and junior high school bands across Canada.

Stetner’s piece Under the Butterfly’s Wing was written as a birthday gift for the composer’s mother-in-law.

Omar Thomas

Omar Thomas is an award-winning American composer, arranger and music educator, who earned his Master of Music in Jazz Composition from the New England Conservatory of Music after studying Music Education at James Madison University. Thomas’ music has been performed in concert halls the world over and he has been commissioned to create works in both jazz and classical styles.

His piece A Mother of A Revolution! is a celebration of the bravery of trans women and in particular Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson, known for being a leader in the famous Stonewall riots of June 28, 1969. It was commissioned by the Desert Winds Freedom Band, under the direction of Dean McDowell, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. Click here for a performance by the Frost Symphonic Winds at the University of Miami.

Shirley Thompson

Shirley J. Thompson is an English composer, conductor and violinist of Jamaican descent. Her output as a composer encompasses symphonies, ballets, operas, concertos and other works for ensembles, as well as music for TV, film and theatre. Thompson is the first woman in Europe to have composed and conducted a symphony within the last 40 years. She is currently Reader and Head of Composition and Performance at the University of Westminster. She was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2019 for services to Music.

Her composition New Nation Rising, A 21st Century Symphony was performed and recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Roydon Tse 🇨🇦

Roydon Tse is an award-winning composer, pianist and educator who was named one of CBC Music’s Top 30 under 30 Canadian Classical Musicians (2017). He holds a Bachelor of Music in composition from the University of British Columbia, Masters of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Toronto. Tse’s many accolades include the Washington International Composition Prize, Prairies Emerging Composer Prize from the Canadian Music Centre, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta’s Emerging Artist Award and Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Protégé Prize, He is a four-time winner of Canada’s SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers. His music has been performed and commissioned by major orchestras and ensembles in North America, Europe and Asia. Born in Hong Kong, Tse studied in the UK and currently works in Toronto, Canada.

Click here to watch Tse’s Sinfonia Concertante for Percussion and Orchestra performed by the Austin Civic Orchestra, conducted by Lois Ferrari.

Dinuk Wijeratne 🇨🇦

Dinuk Wijeratne is a Juno award-winning composer, conductor and pianist, born in Sri Lanka and now based in Canada. His body of work ranges from symphony orchestras and string quartets to tabla players and DJs. Wijeratne made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2004 as a composer, conductor and pianist performing with Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. Wijeratne has also appeared at the Kennedy Center, Opera Bastille, Lincoln Center, Teatro Colón, Sri Lanka, Japan and across the Middle East.

Here is a video of TorQ Percussion Quartet playing one of the movements from Wijeratne’s concerto for percussion quartet and wind ensemble entitled Invisible Cities. Commissioned by TorQ Percussion Quartet, it was premiered with the University of Saskatchewan Wind Orchestra directed by Darrin Oehlerking.

Evan Williams

Evan Williams is a composer and conductor who is the current Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Instrumental Activities at Rhodes College and is music director of the Rhodes Orchestra. His work has been performed by members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, International Contemporary Ensemble, Quince Ensemble, Fifth House Ensemble, Splinter Reeds, Verb Ballets and at many festivals including the New Music Gathering, Electroacoustic Barn Dance, New York City Electronic Music Festival and Midwest Composers Symposium.

Click here to hear Williams’ Quartet For Saxophones, II performed by The Hocta Quartet.

J. Kimo Williams

James Kimo Williams is a multifaceted musician, veteran and professor. Williams’ received  a Bachelor of Arts in composition from Berklee College of Music and a Masters of Arts in Management from Webster University. He taught at Sherwood Conservatory of Music in Chicago and the Music and Management Departments at Columbia College Chicago.  He has received numerous awards including the Vietnam Veterans of America’s Excellence in the Arts Award; People To People International’s President’s Award; the Lancaster Symphony’s 38th Recipient – Composers Award for Contributions to American Music; and the League of Black Women’s Black Rose Awards.

Williams completed his military service in the Army Reserves by becoming the Bandmaster for the 85th Division Army Reserve Band and later co-founded The “Lt. Dan Band” in 2003 with actor-musician Gary Sinise. Their primary goal was to perform USO shows for active duty service members. Through his band, he has traveled to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Korea, Singapore, Germany and other military bases to support military members.

Williams wrote his first symphony, Symphony For the Sons of Nam (SFSON) in 1990. It has been performed by the Savannah, Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Alabama, Indianapolis and Nashville Symphony Orchestras, as well as others nationally and internationally. Here is the US Air Force Band performing the piece on Veterans Day 2011.

Julius P. Williams

Julius P. Williams is an award-winning conductor, composer, recording artist, educator, author and pianist. He has conducted orchestras all over the United States and Europe, and has been artistic director of various festivals and ensembles. A prolific composer, Williams has created works for virtually every genre of contemporary classical performance, including opera, ballet, orchestra, chamber ensemble, chorus and solo voice, dance, musical theatre and film. He is the recipient of awards for musical and academic achievement including Finalist for American Prize for Professional Orchestra conducting and American Prize in Composition, He received an Honorary Doctorate from Keene State College in New Hampshire , Detroit Symphony “Emerging Composer Award”,  Gracie Allen Documentary Award, Distinguished Medal of Artistic Achievement of the Ecuador Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Here is a collection of his songs, performed by  Phil Lima and Elena Roussanova.

Haley Woodrow

Haley Woodrow is a Texas-based freelance composer and arranger who publishes her music through her company, Woodrow Music. Woodrow currently teaches piano at the King’s University in Texas and leads a Chamber Music and Composition program for Tarrant County College. Along with her husband, she co-directs a newly formed Dallas/Fort Worth-based Jazz Orchestra as volunteers in the Texas State Guard.

Her piece In Two Places was the winner of the 2019 Women’s Band Composition Contest, led by Shannon Shaker. Here is the piece being performed by the  Florida State University Senior High Band Camp Wind Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Patrick Dunnigan.


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