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(Re: David Avshalomov sings Frere Laurent in Center Stage Opera’s Romeo et Juliette) “I think one of the reasons David Avshalomov is such a fine composer is that he is a singer, and his music – whether vocal or instrumental – SINGS. I was first exposed to his talent as long ago as the late 1960s, when we were both members of the Memorial Church Choir at Harvard – and wish I could be there for this performance!”
Ellen Bacon, humanist, widow of American Composer Ernest Bacon and his chief champion
ENDGAME for orchestra (2018)
“It’s a powerful and compelling piece!” … Ellen Bacon
“. . . something about the title Endgame got my attention. This is a powerful work!” Brian Norcross, Conductor, Franklin & Marshall College Orchestra
“Very strong piece, David! My sincerest compliments!” Raymond Horton, Composer, Arranger
I have finally had a chance to spend some time with Endgame now and predict that it will be a great success. The Intro will certainly . . .
The work is a coherent whole that could only have been written by you. I only wish the piece were longer. I would love to have heard some of the episodes developed at greater length. Second, there was a lot to process in fifteen minutes. I kept thinking: Wait, wait, what was that again? Your fierce conviction is never in doubt. . . but people will need to hear the piece several times before they begin to understand.
Even without the detailed program, it was abundantly clear to me that kindly beauty was constantly crushed by heedless ugliness. You write that the ending is ambiguous and that some will hear the message that somehow the planet can be saved, while others (like me) will hear the dire announcement of the final Ragnarök. In fact the ending reminds me of the terrifying Ride to Hell at the end of Damnation of Faust. Specifically the defining moment where Faust, too late, realizes the meaning of “Faustian Bargain.”
Endgame is strong and cannot easily be shrugged off. It will surely provoke some serious introspection among those who are paying attention.”
David Lamb, composer
HILL DANCE for Concert Band —The American Prize 2016 for Band Composition (2nd prize)
“We did Hill Dance in the Concert last Wednesday, it was a big success. It was a pleasure for me to be conducting your Hill Dance, I really felt like being in the middle of a Klezmer, a little bit drunk, not during the Concert!!”
Dario Sotelo Calvo, Conductor, Brazilian Wind Orchestra
I just wanted to give you a quick update on our performance last night of Hill Dance: I could not be happier with the performance. It was an absolute pleasure learning the score, rehearsing the musicians, and performing the piece. It was such a fun piece and people loved it!! I think you really have written something unique and . . .
The Three clarinet soloists were amazing. The clarinet professor was so proud. He came to several rehearsals and was so excited after the piece that he “had to restrain himself from jumping out of his seat as it could have been perceived as inappropriate!” [His words immediately after the performance.]
Thanks for contacting me to do this. I am very excited to get you a recording. I hope you are pleased with the outcome. We also had the concert video recorded that we will air later on our local PBS station.
I understand you have others that are also performing it. I happen to be guest conducting in Minnesota next month when they have it scheduled to perform. Best of luck on those performances, I hope you get many! BTW, I plan to program it again next semester. We host a large honor band festival and I think this piece would be terrific for that performance.
Dr. Reed Thomas, conductor, Middle Tennessee State University Concert Band
“Thanks so much for the opportunity for my students and myself and for this challenging and educational experience. My students will remember this for years to come. We only started . . .
Brad Harris, conductor, Woodbridge High School Concert Band, Irvine CA,
(who made a fine studio recording of Hill Dance that helped me win The American Prize for Band Composition)
THERE WAS ANOTHER SONG
“Haunting” … Rabbi Jeffrey Marx
TROTZKY’S TRAIN–The American Prize 2012 for Orchestral Composition, Special Judge’s Citation for Unique Artistic Achievement
“Your piece was a huge success!!!!. Everyone, audience, players and soloist alike, raved about it. It’s the best (and hardest) piece we’ve ever done. I can’t thank you enough for composing it . . .” Judy Drake, Conductor, Ravenna Chamber Orchestra, Seattle
“This is a masterpiece. . . an outpouring of passion and true art.” John David Lamb, composer, Seattle
“I just heard the 3rd movement of Trotsky’s Train performed by the Ravenna String Orchestra with Judith Cohen on piano. It was fantastic. I hope to hear it again.” Mike McPhail, Seattle
“This work is full of drama, melodic invention, and passion, with vivid references to not only the Russian spirit but also more literal homages such as the Tchaikovsky Pathetique Symphony, the searing textures of Shostakovich, and the Russian orthodox bells in the finale . . . perhaps some judicious pruning in the middle section of the memento mori?” Dr Geoffrey Alvarez, Conductor/Artistic Director, The Alvarez Chamber Orchestra. London
THE LAST STAND for Concert Band —The American Prize 2014 for Band Composition (3rd prize)
“As a career conductor I am very grateful to you for writing such captivating, serious music for wind band. There is so much, well, let's call it lesser quality music out there that it's important for people to remember the legitimate concert capabilities of the wind band. We are a . . .
Lew Buckley, conductor, Metropolitan Wind Symphony (8 years; 30 years Director of US Coast Guard Band)
“David Avshalomov’s “The Last Stand” . . . is a lament . . . and a rather good one, I think. David makes good usage of dissonances that don’t slap you in the face, but take you somewhere “deep.” I would encourage others to take a listen. Congratulations on a thoughtful work, David.” Charles Torian, Director, Orange (VA) Community Band
The Last Stand: “. . . beautiful music, especially at the beginning . . . “ David Whitwell, noted US band conductor and band music historian
“I received the piece and have listened/looked through it. . . . my first impression of the piece is 'WOW'!!!! . . . it is VERY dramatic and powerful. I think . . .
Daniel Baldwin, Band conductor and composer,
Coordinator, Western Plains Wind Consortium
MORE RESPONSES TO THE LAST STAND
The Last Stand: “I was impressed with your program notes, very well thought out and the piece expresses the program very well. It is like a shooting script for a film – it would be great if the Sierra Club made a film to your piece, I think it would be very moving.” Peter Davison, film and TV composer, Idyllwild CA
“What a splendid piece…you have some serious composing chops, dude! The Last Stand makes a band sound like an orchestra.” Patrick Kroboth, professional violist and scenic designer for opera, San Francisco
“Had a chance to listen to your recording of “The Last Stand” this morning. I found it very moving!” Emily Ray, conductor, Mission Chamber Orchestra, San Jose CA
The Last Stand “. . . I just finished listening to the entire piece. Very nice writing, and I think you get across this very important subject very well.” Peter Christ, owner, Crystal Records Inc., Camas, WA
The Last Stand – “Thanks again for the piece. It was a great experience to prepare and perform! “ Robert J. Cesario, Director of Bands and Orchestras, Missouri S&T
“I CANNOT get ‘We Do Enact’ out of my head. Good work; you’ve created a song with a show-tune like ability to worm its way around our brains!” Dr. Jonathan Talberg, Director of Choral, Vocal and Opera Studies, Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, CSULB
“I’ve finally had some time to study your wonderful work. I found it to be excellent. Congratulations. . . . I’m sure you will find a good home for this wondrous piece.” Gerard Schwartz, Music Director Emeritus, Seattle Symphony
“We commend you for your fine work and diligence.” Craig Jessop, Director, Mormon Tabernacle Choir
“Thank you so much for sending this my way. It is a terrific work.” Jerry Junkin, Artistic Director and Conductor, Dallas Wind Symphony
“I like the Principles composition . . . I see it being utilized best for a musicians’ convention or some other serious music event/venue. I’ll keep it in mind for possible future performance.” Colonel Larry H. Lang, Commander and Conductor, The United States Air Force Band
“‘Principles’ is a work that says something of tremendous importance to our time—something that we as a nation desperately need.” John David Lamb, composer, Seattle
VIGNETTES for Concert Band —The American Prize 2015 for Band Composition, First Place (plus 2 Prizes–Hillcrest, Sul Ross)
“I can tell you that David’s piece is quite wonderful, and we have had a blast putting it together! It is a fun work for those who don’t know it, a little bit of everything for everyone! Thanks, David! And yes – more of your music will be done by us!” Kevin Scott, Director, SUNY Orange Symphonic Band (co-commissioning group of the Vignettes), Middletown, New York
“Just a belated thank you for your work guest-conducting the Palos Verdes Symphonic Band. I enjoyed . . .
MORE REPORTS FROM THE 26 VIGNETTES COMMISSIONING BANDS
Vignettes – “It was a lot of fun to work on.” Dr. Jeffrey A. Malecki, Director, Saint Xavier University Wind Ensemble
Vignettes – “I was happy with the group’s enthusiasm for the piece, and I felt like we got to the essence of your music, for the most part. Keep in mind that my group is our second auditioned band. I thought your piece was an appropriate level of challenge for my group, and we really enjoyed it!” Dr. Nathaniel H. Dickey, Symphonic Band Conductor, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota
Vignettes – “We enjoyed performing your music, and look forward to playing it again soon.” Dr. Jeffrey Scott Doebler, Conductor, Valparaiso University Windiana Concert Band
Vignettes – “. . . the audience enjoyed the work. It received a good amount of applause. Everything in Vignettes was well within our ability to play.” Ted Vives, Artistic and Musical Director. Los Alamos Community Winds
Vignettes – “The two slow mvts we did are very beautiful (Snowy Mts and Valentine). I think everyone liked Grotesko best. And the Ice War was fun. We began with Our Leader. It is always a thrill to prepare/perform a commissioned work.” Thomas Lloyd. Band Director. Columbus State Community College
Vignettes – “The performance went well and the audience enjoyed the piece. The two slow movements are lovely. I think the band liked the camels the best.” Thomas Lloyd, Band Conductor, Columbus State Community College
Vignettes – “We had a good experience with the performance. The audience really seemed to enjoy it, and my guest conductor, Rich Guillen from Arlington HS, inquired about performing selected movements with his wind ensemble at a future date.” Curt Ebersole, Conductor, Westchester Symphonic Winds , Tarrytown, NY
Vignettes – “The performance went quite well. We presented four of the Vignettes: Grotesko, Dragon Dance, Valentine, and closed with Tuskers. The band played well . . . I think the audience was “surprised” by this piece, as they have come to anticipate/expect the traditional band march, overture, Broadway show medley, etc. – which we have been feeding them for 19 years. “ Michael Flamhaft, Conductor, Band of Long Island (BOLI)
“I think you have a great craft as composer . . .”
Andreas Mitisek, Artistic & General Director, Long Beach Opera
SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND OF EXPERIENCE (BLAKE)
“Avshalomov is obviously a composer of achievement and scope, mature in his style and firm in his convictions. I admire his ability to . . .
David Enlow, Organ Faculty, The Juilliard School;
Organist & Choir Master, Church of the Resurrection, New York City
“Well, we did it. And very well I think… We had a lot of enthusiastic reactions from our public. Especially about US 30 and The Lamb. People enjoyed it very much! Thanks again!” Loes Aartsen/Vocoza, Holland
“Dear Mr. Avshalomov, If you still remember us, I am a member of chamber choir Vocoza in Holland. We performed some of your work a year ago. It gave us great joy and it was a success.” Adrien Kuijten, chamber choir Vocoza, Holland
“As promised hereby some live-recordings of your pieces by Vocoza. It was received with a lot of compliments by both auditors and singers!” Sanne Nieuwenhuijsen, conductor, chamber choir Vocoza, Holland
“You have obviously produced a significant body of work with your Blakes, something I really can be in awe of. It amazes me to think that you started . . .
Of course everybody would love these songs. They are altogether lovely. You know I always appreciate the outpouring of melody in your work, and these songs are rich in that way. I especially enjoy the seemingly effortless way you have with words. Nothing is ever forced. Special effects always seem to arise naturally, such as the echo at the end of the Nurse’s Song or the coda to Tyger.
I am in awe of your mastery of choral writing. It is a joy to see how you handle the unique accents and flow of the English language, always with an ear for the nuance of expression. Then there is the way you think about chord spacing. You obviously have a feel for what will work with a chorus, and this is not the standard practice that works for instrumental groups. I applaud the straightforward way you handle harmony and especially admire those places where you make an unexpected and delicious modulation to highlight an important moment in the text.
My observations on individual titles (click to reveal):
John David Lamb
SIEGE for orchestra
“Wanted to let you know that the concert went well. Many nice comments – especially from folks who know music well. My students learned a great deal by working on your piece. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to perform it.”
Dr. Johannes Dietrich, Newton and Adelaide Burgner Professor in Instrumental Music, Lebanon Valley College
I BEND THE KNEE OF MY HEART (3 prizes)
“What a stunning contribution to PROJECT : ENCORE™ is made by your 'I bend the knee of my heart'! I've just given it . . .
With warm respect,
Dr. Deborah Simpkin King , Artistic Director and Founder,
Schola Cantorum on Hudson and its PROJECT : ENCORE™
“The Canticle 14 (I Bend the Knee) is sure to be a hit with the Episcopalians. They will love, as I do, your . . .
“It was a joy doing your piece this Fall. Thanks for your continuing support.” Jim Person, Conductor, Anglican Chorale of Southern California
THERE’S A WIND
“The concerts went great and we got a good review. There was a nice mention of your piece. Thank you again for your lovely song. It was the perfect opener for the program!” Timm Adams, conductor, Chicago Chamber Choir
“This is a fine addition to the repertoire. A piece you can very well be proud of, David. Thanks for writing it.” J J Biggs, composer, Ojai CA.
“Well done. The piece is very effective and well performed.” Dale Jergenson, composer, Los Angeles
“Enjoyed your “wind” work very much This could become a standard encore work. Congratulations!” Dr. G. Edward Bruner, Music Director, Vox Pro, Prof. of Choral Music, UC Riverside
“ . . . thank you for the tape of your Variations! I find the work exciting and especially your instrumentation is very colorful and excellently chosen. I congratulate you to this composition.” Karel Husa, composer
CORNUCOPIA OF ROUNDS
“ . . . a work that demonstrates the full spectrum of tonal color and rhythmic drive within a concert band. Works of this quality and caliber are in great demand nationally to enhance the repertoire of bands.” Maj. James Bankhead, Commander/Conductor, USAF (HQ) Band, DC
“The concert went beautifully last night, and your piece was very well received. Greetings from several of our concertgoers who remembered your tenure here in Missoula.” Fern Glass Boyd, String Orchestra of the Rockies
“I enjoyed listening to your very heartfelt piece.” Allen Robert Gross, conductor, Santa Monica Symphony
“I was very moved by your Elegy, a deeply felt and very touching composition. Contratulations to you for creating such a personal and communicative message.” Simon Sargon, composer.
“We did our first performance of “Do You Believe in Angels?” last Friday at the Cathedral Church of the Advent here in Birmingham. It was well received and . . .
Laura Doss, Choral Director, Alabama School of the Arts
“Idiomatic, evocative, composed but never sounding contrived! Delicious! I hear a “debt” to the Impressionists in the orchestration. This is the most compelling flute orchestra work I have ever heard.” Ginny Atherton, flutist, conductor, music educator, Los Angeles
“This is an insanely good piece. I want to talk to you about writing something for my clarinet group.”[Note: she did.] Margaret Thornhill, Director, LA Clarinet Orchestra
“The flute orchestra piece is amazing. What an unearthly sound!” John David Lamb, Composer
“Je viens de jouer votre Oeuvre Diversion Pour Violon et Timbales hier à l'Opéra National de Lorraine: dans un concert Apéritif. . .
Marcel Artzer, virtuoso timpanist, Lorraine Opera, France
”We really enjoyed performing it — and I think the audience enjoyed it as well. The work is so fun to play we almost want it to be longer!!” John Tafoya, timpanist, educator, Prof. of Percussion, Indiana U., former timpanist, Florida Philarharmonic and National Symphony, DC
“In November, 2005 the strings from my community orchestra joined up with a small group of talented high school strings to premiere David Avshalomov's Diamond Variations, which our orchestra co-commissioned. . .
Emily Ray, Music Director, Mission Chamber Orchestra, San Jose, CA)
PANGS OF LOVE
“What a treat! There are some truly ravishing passages. . . . a wonderful piece. . . It is a . . .
THIS SACRED SPACE
“I love this work. . . . the organ part is also fantastic. I am proud of our choir, brass, timpani player, and organist. They worked really hard on the piece and they did it the best they had ever done. Congregation – loved it. . . Choir – huge “thumbs up”. . . Brass, timpanist, organist – oh man! They . . . (more)
Congregation – I haven’t had so many positive comments on a non-Christmas/Easter anthem ever! I had us sing it at the beginning of the service as the Call to Worship. I didn’t have the congregation sing with us, but I did have the words put on the screens as we sang. And I gave a brief explanation of what they were about to hear before we sang. For the entire week following Sunday, I had at least one congregational member every day call, email, or talk to me to tell me about how much they liked “that first song” or “that one that was different” or “the new song”.
Choir – I had several choir members tell me it was their favorite piece of the year. I also had several singers who told me that they did not like it at all when we started rehearsing it, but now they really liked it a lot. I had 2 choir members who changed plans so they could be present to sing the song! Many of the choir told their friends and family about the song and told them to be sure not to miss that Sunday. My most musically capable singers appreciated the challenge.
Brass, timpanist, organist – It was challenging and fun for them. The organist and timpanist especially commented about how hard it made them work to learn the song and the resulting personal reward was huge.
Me, personally – I thought the piece was fantastic the first time I heard it from the demo, and I love it even more having been able to hear it “live”. The music is exciting, the text is excellent, the hymn tune is wonderful, and the ending is exhilarating.
Grady Manley, Jr., Director of Music, Christ Community Church, Carmichael, CA
“It is rare when I hear a recently composed work for viola which stirs me emotionally to the point of saying, ‘I can’t wait to play this!’ Thank you again for . . .
Patricia McCarty, New England Conservatory, Principal Viola (ret.) Boston Pops Orchestra
“This is truly a masterpiece—easily the equal of the Bloch or the . . .
“Yes the tunes sound Eastern European . . . but you organize them in a very American way.” Joel Smirnoff, Juilliard String Quartet
“The cello sonata is excellently written, a fine addition to the repertoire. I do hope you get more performances of it.” Simon Sargon, composer
AROUND THE YEAR
“I love the woodwind quintet miniatures. What a delightful piece! Everything is so . . .
“This is a lyrical work in a clear American style, and I love it! I'm GREATLY enjoying preparing your piece for . . .
US 30 IN IDAHO
“Thank you for your charming “US 30 in Idaho”. It is a delightful little bonbon showing a precocious grasp of what choral writing is all about.” John David Lamb, composer, Seattle, composer
“This the best Chanukah song I have heard . . . and I have heard quite a few.” Bunny Thornburgh, director, Cantori Domino, Santa Monica; High Holy Days Choir Director, Stephen S. Wise Temple, Los Angeles
“Thank you for your great music and your support . . . and we really appreciate your gorgeous voice on our album!!” Meredith Kennedy, poet/lyricist/singer
“Your magnificent clarinet choir work is a real gem and earns the right to stand alongside . . .
“ . . . your fascinating scores . . . we were deeply impressed by the high quality of your works.” Brett Banducci, Mladi ensemble, Los Angeles
“I have just listened yet again to your string quartet. You mentioned that some people find the ending depressing . . . but I hear strength . . .
” . . . thanks for creating such a moving and inspirational setting. I think you have not only captured a beautiful mood, but have designed a wonderful vehicle for both me and the choir.” Mark Saltzman, Cantor, Santa Monica Synagogue
“It is a worthy piece and not difficult for choirs to sing.” Dr. Judith Tischler, Director, Transcontinental Music
WHERE YOU GO, I WILL GO
“Ruth/Naomi is just one of the most moving choral works I have ever heard. If I had to pick one favorite out of all the music you sent me, this would be it.” John David Lamb, composer, Seattle
“I was so moved by the piece that I rushed out and bought chocolate!” John David Lamb, composer, Seattle
SGT. PEPPER MEDLEY
“I still recall your ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ medley for the Singing Sgts.—It was a great gift to us and so well done I wish we had recorded it formally.” Robert Kuzminski, (Capt.), former conductor, USAF Band Singing Sergeants
“I just listened to your orchestral Dickinson songs. What brilliant orchestration! . . . superb—you manage to . . .
DALI HALO for organ–Vox Novus 15 Minutes of Fame Selection 2015
“I love Dali Halo; performing it at 2 concerts” David Bohn, organist/judge
CONCERTO CON TIMPANI
“I received the Concerto con Timpani today, put it up on the stand, read straight through it–and I was grinning the entire time. . . At the concert the concerto was well received.” Greg Candy, timpanist, who played the US premiere with the Farmington Valley (NY) Symphony under John Eeels.
AARON AVSHALOMOFF – PRELUDE AND RONDO
“We performed the lovely Prelude and Rondo at our November orchestral concert. I am sure you would be glad to know that the response was just fine.” Huang Yijun, Conductor, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra
LET’S GROW AN ORCHESTRA
“I’ve never heard an orchestra tell a story before. I want to come again. I liked it. I liked the way the conductor waved his hands a certain way to make the musicians go fast and slow, loud and soft.” Meredith Sutton
“The conductor didn’t have to say anything to tell the musicians what to do.” Jenilee Reeve.
Both were third graders at Lowell Elementary School, Long Beach.
Quoted in the Long Beach Press-Telegram