David Avshalomov is a distinguished third-generation classical composer and conductor, and an accomplished vocalist. He was born in New York City, grew up in Oregon, and has long lived in Santa Monica, California. He represents a musical lineage (on his father’s side) whose story stretches from the Caucasus to Siberia, through China, to the US.
As a young student, David studied piano, music theory, and percussion. He learned the joys of madrigal singing at home, sang in school and professional choruses, and played timpani in school and professional orchestras (soloing in the Milhaud concerto with the Harvard Orchestra). He began composing (self-taught) in middle school, and wrote and conducted his first choral compositions for his high school choir. He earned degrees in music from Harvard (B.A., Magna cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa) and in orchestral conducting from the University of Washington (where he wrote a distinguished Doctoral dissertation on the Five Pieces for Orchestra of Arnold Schoenberg), with further conducting studies at Peabody, Aspen, and Tanglewood. His conducting teachers included George Bell, Stanley Chapple, Leo Mueller, Jean Morel, Henry Holt, Samuel Krachmalnick, Herbert Blomstedt, Werner Torkanowsky, Seiji Ozawa, and Leonard Bernstein. His composition teachers included Charles Jones (at Aspen); and John Verrall, Robert Suderberg, and William Bergsma (at UW).
HONORED ARTIST OF THE AMERICAN PRIZE 2014
AMERICAN PRIZE for Band Composition 2014, Winner (3rd Place)
AMERICAN PRIZE for Orchestral Composition 2012 Winner, Special Citation for Unique Artistic Achievement/Distinctive Merit
ACDA Silver Platter Award 2012 for Choral Repertoire of Outstanding Quality
Polifonia (Lithuania) International Sacred Choral Music Competition 2013, Second Prize
A composer grounded in the traditions of Western classical music, David Avshalomov creates his works in an accessible modern romantic, neo-tonal style that balances a natural lyric gift with a characteristic rhythmic vitality and pungent harmonies. The forms he crafts are conservative and developmental, his compositional voice distinctive. The influences on his style include the great 20th-century European and American tonal composers, and both his late father Jacob and his paternal grandfather, Aaron Avshalomoff.
“Melody is the thread of my daily life. I still find new paths through traditional musical forms, and fresh expression based in folk idioms
and drawing on old melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic roots.”
He has composed works for solo voice, choruses, orchestra, band, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments, in forms ranging from songs and incidental pieces to full-length oratorio. Recently he has been writing a lot of choral and band music; he is now focusing on his opera, “The Pearl”. Both his programmatic instrumental works and his vocal works focus increasingly on issues of social justice, and our fundamental connection to nature–and wilderness.
“As a longtime mountain man and lover of nature and wilderness I am more and more impelled to write music that is about our fundamental connection to nature, healing the Earth, and social justice.”
He has had commissions from numerous ensembles, including the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, Mission Chamber Orchestra, Musica Bella Orchestra of NY, Western Plains Wind Consortium (15 bands), 2012 Bandwagon Consortium (26 bands), LA Flute Orchestra, LA Clarinet Orchestra, Odyssea Chorus of Lisbon, Anglican Chorale of Southern California, Camerata Singers of Long Beach, and Westwood United Methodist Church (LA). He has also been Resident Composer with the Anglican Chorale, Torrance Civic Chorale, and Cantori Domino.
His compositions have been performed professionally across the U.S. and in Europe and Russia, and are recorded on the Albany and Naxos labels. He has earned grants from Meet the Composer, the American Music Center, the American Composer’s Forum, and two from the Durfee Foundation. In 2014 he was designated an Honored Artist of the American Prize in recognition of the consistently high quality of his body of work. His compositions have won prizes at the Aspen Festival, the Korg Competition, the Santa Monica Debut Concert series, American Prize 2014 for Band Composition (3rd Place) and dual finalist in Orchestral and Chamber Composition, a Special Citation from the American Prize for Orchestral Composition 2012; Dual Finalist, American Prize 2013/Choral and Orchestral Composition, Polifonia (Lithuania) International Sacred Choral Music Competition 2013 (Second Prize) , an ACDA Silver Platter Award 2012 for Outstanding Choral Repertoire; PROJECT : ENCORE Choral Work of Exceptional Merit 2013 (Schola Cantorum on Hudson); TheC7Prize, Canada 2014 (2 choral works), Sul Ross State University, TX, Wind Ensemble Composition Contest 2013, Hillcrest Wind Ensemble (San Diego) Composition Contest 2013 (Second Prize), and four Vox Nova – Fifteen Minutes of Fame awards 2014-2015(solo pieces for clarinet, tuba, oboe, organ).
Avshalomov was tapped early as a vocal soloist (starting in grade school in Manhattan). He got his vocal training with music teacher Nell Givler, choral conductors George Bell and John Ferris, and recently with Glenn Carlos. At Harvard he was a professional chorister and a frequent oratorio and motet soloist and madrigalist. He served a tour of duty with the USAF Band as a vocalist in the Singing Sergeants, also serving as arranger, composer, and timpanist. After moving to Los Angeles, he sang with several chamber vocal groups including Madrigalia, Cantori di Mezzogiorno, and Soffio di Viento. He continues to sing as a professional bass soloist and freelance choral section leader, working with such groups as the De Angelis Vocal Ensemble, the Anglican Chorale of Southern California, Cantori Domino (Santa Monica), Vox Pro, Temple Sha’arei Am, and Camerata Singers of Long Beach. He also presents solo recitals.
David Avshalomov is noted for his strong and nuanced bass voice, wide range, stylistic accomplishment, and emotional renditions. He brings to his own music and the music of others the sensibilities, interpretation, and expression of a mature vocal artist.
For over 20 years, Avshalomov worked professionally as a conductor of orchestras, choruses, bands, and opera. In 1980 he founded the Santa Monica Chamber Orchestra, a period-practice Baroque orchestra, which he led for a decade, earning civic accolades and critical notice. He was music director of several other ensembles on both coasts, and has guest-conducted over 40 ensembles in the US and Japan. He toured in the Far East and Europe, and recorded his own music and that of his grandfather Aaron in Moscow for the Naxos label. He still guest-conducts performances of his own compositions. His conducting work has garnered repeated listings in Who’s Who in Music and Who’s Who in the West.
For balance, David returns to nature. He hikes, camps, backpacks, ski tours, and snowshoes in mountains, forest, and wilderness—habitat where he feels most in harmony (Southern California Transverse Ranges, Sierra Nevada, Oregon Coast Range, and NW Cascades). At home he walks, bicycles, swims, boogie-boards, reads (mostly fiction), practices Tai Chi and yoga, studies Torah with a men’s group at his Reform temple, and spends time with his wife Randi, in their Santa Monica bungalow near the Pacific shore where he has his studio.