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Before the Double Bar: Insights into the Creative Processes of Five Composers

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  • This session is intended to help conductors connect with the process behind the music and give insight into how composers actually write and develop ideas. Five composers discuss their creative process by looking at one or two specific works for band or orchestra in detail and examining it through five different lenses: compositional tools, narrative and form, influences, collaboration with performers, and transcription/translation. Time for discussion and questions.
  • David Biedenbender (
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  • Composer David Biedenbender’s music has been described as “simply beautiful” [] and is noted for its “rhythmic intensity” [NewMusicBox] and “stirring harmonies” [Boston Classical Review]. “Modern, venturesome, and inexorable…The excitement, intensity, and freshness that characterizes Biedenbender’s music hung in the [air] long after the last note was played” []. David has written music for the concert stage as well as for dance and multimedia collaborations, and his work is often influenced by his diverse musical experiences in rock and jazz bands as an electric bassist, in wind, jazz, and New Orleans-style brass bands as a euphonium, bass trombone, and tuba player, and by his study of Indian Carnatic Music. His present creative interests include working with everyone from classically trained musicians to improvisers, acoustic chamber music to large ensembles, and interactive electronic interfaces to live brain data. He has had the privilege of collaborating with and being commissioned by many talented performers and ensembles, including Alarm Will Sound, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, Albany (NY) Symphony Orchestra, Stenhammar String Quartet, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, U.S. Navy Band, Philharmonie Baden-Baden (Germany), VocalEssence, and Eastman Wind Ensemble, among many others. He is currently Assistant Professor of Composition in the College of Music at Michigan State University. He holds degrees in composition from the University of Michigan and Central Michigan University, and has also studied at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, the Aspen Music Festival, and in Mysore, India where he studied carnatic music.
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  • Roger Zare
  • Roger Zare has been praised for his “enviable grasp of orchestration” (New York Times) and for writing music with “formal clarity and an alluringly mercurial surface.” Often inspired by science, nature, and mythology, he seeks to create compositions that are vividly descriptive. His works have been performed across the United States and on five continents by such musicians and ensembles as the American Composers Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Sarasota Orchestra, Boston Musica Viva, the Symphony Orchestra of Minas Gerais, the Akropolis Reed Quintet, the Donald Sinta Quartet, violinist Cho-Liang Lin, and clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein. Zare’s awards include the ASCAP Nissim Prize, three BMI Student Composer Awards, an ASCAP Morton Gould award, a New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission, the 2008 American Composers Orchestra Underwood Commission, a Copland House Residency Award, and a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has served as composer-in-residence at the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival, the Salt Bay Chamber Music Festival, the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington and the SONAR new music ensemble, and has collaborated with CERN to present his music in Switzerland and Bulgaria in programs about the collision of music and physics. Zare holds degrees from the University of Michigan, the Peabody Conservatory, and the University of Southern California. His teachers include Bright Sheng, Michael Daugherty, Paul Schoenfield, Kristin Kuster, Christopher Theofanidis, Derek Bermel, and Morten Lauridsen. Zare currently serves as instructional assistant professor of music theory and composition at Illinois State University.
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  • Ben Taylor
  • The music of Benjamin Dean Taylor (born 1983), has been described as “elegant and energetic” (Kenneth Thompson) and “powerful and direct with delightful surprises in each work.” (Marilyn Shrude) Having grown up as a performer in jazz, rock, ska, country, and concert bands as well as in choirs and orchestras, Taylor is driven to write music that highlights the strengths of each performing ensemble. His catalog of more than 100 works covers a large range of styles and genres including music written for orchestra, wind band, opera, choir, jazz big band, gamelan, chamber ensembles, and soloists with live electronics. Taylor has received commissions from ensembles including the Omaha Symphony, Solaire Saxophone Quartet, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Civic Wind Symphony. As a sought-after composer for wind band, Taylor has been commissioned by over 75 band directors of players at all educational levels. Recently named a recipient of his third commission from the Barlow Endowment, Taylor’s prizes and honors include Winner in the 2013 Ticheli Composition Contest, Winner in the American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Readings (2012), and an ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award (2011). His music has received performances at festivals including the College Band Directors National Association Conference, Society of Electroacoustic Music in the United States National Conference, Scandinavian Saxophone Festival, and international jazz festivals in Edinburgh, Marlborough and Birmingham. His compositions have been featured on the radio and television including NPR’s “Says You.” Benjamin Taylor completed a doctorate degree from Indiana University and holds degrees from Bowling Green State University (MM) and Brigham Young University (BA). When not composing, Taylor can be found playing in his Dixieland jazz band, leading community bucket drumming groups, running, cooking, and throwing knives. Explore his music at
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  • Viet Cuong
  • Called “alluring” and “wildly inventive” by The New York Times, the music of VIET CUONG seeks to both enchant and challenge listeners by breathing new life into time-honored musical ideas. Viet’s work has been performed on six continents by ensembles such as So Percussion, Sandbox Percussion, the PRISM Sax Quartet, JACK String Quartet, clarinetist Gregory Oakes, flutist Mimi Stillman, the Albany Symphony, and Jacksonville Symphony in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Midwest Clinic, US Navy Band International Saxophone Symposium, and International Double Reed Society Conference. Additionally, he has been featured twice on American Public Radio’s Performance Today and his wind band works have amassed over a hundred performances by college and conservatory ensembles worldwide. Viet’s prizes include the ASCAP Morton Gould Award, Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Composers Award, Theodore Presser Foundation Music Award, New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission, Cortona Prize, Dolce Suono Ensemble Young Composers Competition, Boston GuitarFest Composition Competition, and Walter Beeler Memorial Prize. He was a scholarship student at the Aspen, Bowdoin, and Lake Champlain music festivals, and has also been a fellow at the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab, Cabrillo Festival’s Young Composer Workshop, and Copland House’s CULTIVATE workshop. Additionally, Viet is among the youngest group of composers ever to receive artist residencies from the Yaddo Artist Retreat, Copland House, Ucross Foundation, and Atlantic Center for the Arts. Viet has studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, Princeton University, and Peabody Conservatory, where his teachers have included David Ludwig, Steve Mackey, Donnacha Dennehy, Kevin Puts, and Oscar Bettison. Please visit to listen and learn more.
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  • Jess Turner
  • Jess Langston Turner composes contemporary instrumental and choral music. He began his musical training with piano and trumpet lessons and in high school developed an interest in composition. Throughout his undergrad and graduate years, Turner completed a variety of composition projects, several of which have been recognized for national awards, including first place in the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Composition Award, finalist in the ASCAP Lotte Lehmann Art Song Composition Competition, winner of the John Ness Beck Award for Choral Composition, finalist for the Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, winner of the 2011 Walter Beeler Memorial Prize, and most recently winner of the Merrill Jones Composition Contest for Young Bands. In 2010, he was invited to participate in the National Band Association’s Young Composer Mentor Project. In recent years he has served as visiting composer for numbers of schools and universities such as the University of Georgia, the Hartt School, Stephen F. Austin University, The University of Wisconsin - Lacrosse, among others. His music has been commissioned by the Hudson Valley Chamber Winds, the International School of Luxembourg, the Bob Jones University Symphonic Wind Band, the Hartt School Wind Ensemble, the University of Georgia Wind Ensemble, and the University of New Mexico, among others, and his compositions have been performed by a variety of other groups as well, including the Rivertree Singers of South Carolina, the Yale Concert Band, the University of North Texas Wind Ensemble, the Ithaca College Wind Ensemble, the Concordia (IL) Wind Ensemble, the West Point Band, the Coast Guard Band, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Washington, Texas A & M, the Cincinnati Wind Symphony, the U.S. Marine Band, and the U.S. Navy Band. His music has been published by Hinshaw, Carl Fischer, and HAFABRA. He also has sacred music published by Pinner Publications and Jantz Music.