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Episode 135 - Jonathan Newman

Everything Band Podcast

Release Date: 11/04/2019

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Jonathan Newman is a well-known composer and is the Director of Composition & Coordinator of New Music at the Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Virginia.

Topics:

  • Jonathan’s background, how playing the trombone has helped his career, and important teachers in his life.
  • How writing in a variety of genres helps him stay focused and the importance of exploring a plurality of styles as a composer.
  • BCM International and how four friends found a way to have a booth at Midwest and launch their careers.
  • Being a pioneer as a self-published composer in the early 2000’s and how a job at Boosey & Hawkes helped him learn how to publish his own music.
  • Jonathan’s newest work Pi‘ilani and Ko‘olauan.

Links:

Biography:

Jonathan Newman composes music rich with rhythmic drive and intricate sophistication, creating broadly colored musical works that incorporate styles of pop, blues, jazz, folk, and funk into otherwise classical models. Trained as a pianist, trombonist, and singer, his work is informed by an upbringing performing in orchestras, singing in jazz choirs, playing in marching bands, and accompanying himself in talent shows. From opera to bubblegum pop, Newman delivers a new perspective on American concert music.

Recent work includes Mass, a large-scale project with texts by poet Victoria Chang which premiered in 2018 with The Choir of Trinity Wall Street as part of their Mass Reimaginings commissioning program. In 2016 he was appointed Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras Composer-in-Residence; work with CYSO included performances of MetropolitanTree, and 3 O’Clock Mix, Chicago’s 2016 Ear Taxi Festival, and the commissions for Meridian and Blow It Up, Start Again—which have subsequently been performed by orchestras worldwide, including the Minnesota Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony, the 2015 Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the 2015 BBC Proms.

Other recent commissions include Prayers of Steel for Chicago’s Gaudete Brass (recorded on Cedille Records, 2017) and These Inflected Tentacles for chamber quartet. Newman’s ensemble transcriptions include arrangements of Beck, George Harrison, Puccini, Sufjan Stevens, Eric Whitacre, Led Zeppelin, and electronica premiered at the 2005 Lincoln Center Festival and recorded on Acoustica: Alarm Will Sound Performs Aphex Twin (Cantaloupe Records). As a MacDowell Fellow, he began work on an opera based on the 1962 cult horror film Carnival of Souls, in collaboration with playwright Gary Winter. He is currently working with Winter on an imaginary ballet suite for the Florida State University Wind Orchestra based on the Hawaiian story of Pi’ilani and Ko’olau.

Wind and educational ensembles around the world frequently perform from his large catalog of works, including Blow It Up, Start Again (transcription for winds), Symphony No. 1, My Hands Are a City—a wind ensemble consortium commission based on themes of mid-century American Beat Culture, Sowing Useful Truths, commissioned by the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and Moon by Night, 2003 winner of the NBA/Merrill Jones Composition Award.

Born in 1972, Newman received the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and holds degrees from Boston University’s School for the Arts, where he studied composition with Richard Cornell and Charles Fussell and conducting with Lukas Foss, and The Juilliard School, where he studied with composers John Corigliano and David Del Tredici and conducting with Miguel Harth-Bedoya. At Juilliard, his collaborative works for dance enjoyed multiple performances at The Juilliard Theater, Alice Tully Hall, P.S. 122, and Dance Theater Workshop. His early training includes Boston University Tanglewood Institute and the Aspen Music Festival where he studied with composers George Tsontakis and Bernard Rands. His works have been recorded on Avian, BCM, Brain Music, Cantaloupe, Cedille, Klavier, Mark Custom, Naxos, Potenza, and Summit Records.

Newman is a founding member of the composer-consortium BCM International: four stylistically-diverse composers dedicated to enriching the repertoire with exciting works for mediums often mired in static formulas. BCM recorded two albums: BCM Saves the World (Mark Custom Records, 2002) and BCM Men of Industry (BCM Records, 2004). He resides in Virginia, where he serves as Director of Composition & Coordinator of New Music at Shenandoah Conservatory.