On the eve of its 25th anniversary season, the California Symphony has announced the selection of D. J. Sparr as its new Young American Composer-in-Residence. The critically acclaimed California Symphony’s YACR program will give this young American composer an opportunity to work with a professional orchestra in a two-year residency during which the Symphony commissions and performs one of his works each season, preceded by multiple reading rehearsals which are recorded, and direct feedback from the Music Director, the California Symphony musicians and music librarian. Said BMI Foundation President Ralph Jackson, “We know of no other orchestra anywhere in the world doing this type of groundbreaking work with young composers.” The composer will also be involved in educational programs in the schools and community at large, visiting local schools to discuss the ideas and changes surrounding the commission and to work with composition students. Students and teachers will be invited to attend three reading rehearsals and the world premiere.
Of the six composers who have participated in the California Symphony’s YACR Program since its inception, five have won the prestigious Rome Prize for Composition, and two went on to win the BBC International Masterprize competition (one with a work commissioned and premiered by the California Symphony). The ‘94-‘96 resident composer, Christopher Theofanidis, is a now a Grammy-nominated and multiple award-winning composer, whose first full-length opera has been commissioned by the San Francisco Opera and will premiere there in 2011.
Said California Symphony Executive Director Walter Collins, ““We are delighted to announce the selection of D.J. Sparr as our latest Young American Composer in Residence. His work is refreshing, alternative, and exciting. We know our audiences will be intrigued to follow along as he creates new works and unveils them for us. D. J. represents the ideal choice for this program—he is an emerging American composer who is already garnering top international awards. Additionally, his experience working with young people in composition and improvisation will further expand the reach of this program into our schools.” D. J. Sparr is a prolific American composer and guitarist trained in a striking variety of musical styles, including both the classical and the vernacular. He has performed with the Fondazione Arturo Toscanini, Eastman’s “Musica Nova” Contemporary Music Ensemble, pop bands, and as a studio musician.
Mr. Sparr’s music has been performed, premiered, and commissioned by various ensembles, including the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, eighth blackbird, the Dayton Philharmonic, and the “Late Show” with Jay Leno’s band. He received the $10,000 Grand Prize in the orchestra category for the BMG/Williams College National Young Composers Competition, was an alternate for the 1998-9 Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, and has won two BMI Student Composer Awards. His recent work “Precious Metal: A Concerto for Flute and Winds” was commissioned by a consortium of 33 colleges led by the University of Washington and was featured on its 2010 tour of Japan.
Prior to his current residency, Mr. Sparr was the composer-in-residence with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra’s education and community engagement department. Mr. Sparr received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music, his Master and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Michigan, and is a graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts. His composition teachers include Michael Daugherty, Augusta Read Thomas, and Pulitzer Prize winners William Bolcom, Christopher Rouse, and Joseph Schwantner.