Elizabeth Skola Davis (b. 1965)

Born at Womack Army Hospital, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Ms. Davis grew up moving frequently until her family finally settled in southern Indiana. Initially, she studied voice with her mother, then piano and organ at nine and cello at thirteen after having been piano accompanist for her junior high school string orchestra for two years. She completed her primary and undergraduate studies in Indiana, earning a B.M. in cello performance from the University of Evansville (Indiana).

While pursuing a master's degree at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA), she shifted majors from performance to music theory, then ultimately to music composition. A student of Dr. Dinos Constantinides, Ms. Davis earned several awards during her time at LSU, including third prize in the 1989 ASCAP Victor Herbert Young Composers competition, Voice with Orchestra category with Oriana's Lament for soprano and chamber orchestra. Her Trio for Clarinet, Cello & Piano was one of seven honorable mentions in the 1991 ASCAP Victor Herbert Young Composers competition, Small Ensemble category, and was also featured at the Second Festival of Women Composers at Indiana, Pennsylvania in March, 1991.

Ms. Davis performed professionally for seventeen years with two major metropolitan orchestras, the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra (Evansville, IN) and the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra (Baton Rouge, LA). Other groups she has performed with include the Acadiana Symphony (Lafayette, LA), Austin Civic Orchestra (Austin, TX), Austin Symphony (Austin, TX), Louisiana Sinfonietta (Baton Rouge, LA), Mission Chamber Orchestra (San Jose, CA), Mission City Opera (Santa Clara, CA), Natchez Opera (Natchez, MS), and Southeastern Louisiana University Opera (Hammond, LA), as well as numerous chamber and studio recording ensembles.

Prior to moving to Maryland in March, 2012, Ms. Davis was principal cellist of the Palo Alto Philharmonic in the San Francisco bay area. She is currently principal cellist for the Columbia Orchestra. In September, 2014, she joined the staff of St. Vincent Pallotti High School in Laurel, Maryland as strings instructor.

Selected Works:

Age Archaic (1987)
Sprechstimme Voice, Timp, 2 Perc.

*Three Short Studies for Solo Cello (1988, rev. 1989)

Oriana's Lament (1989)
Soprano w/2,2,2,2-2,2,2,1-timp, perc, harp, str.
Text adapted by the composer from "A Knight Errant and his Dowdy Deeds: The Story of Amadis of Gaul" Published in 1911 by J. B. Lippincott Company.
3rd place winner of 1989 ASCAP Victor Herbert Young Composers competition, Voice with Orchestra. Also available for voice w/piano reduction.

Paths (1990)
2 Ten, Bar, Bass voices w/ Fl, Ob, Cl, Bn, Hn, 2 Vl, Vla, Vc.
Text by David Eadington

*Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano (1990)
Cl, Vc, Pno
Honorable mention (one of seven awarded) in 1991 ASCAP Victor Herbert Young Composers competition, Small Ensemble.

*Marimba Mantra (1991)
Marimba, Piano

Cult Costa? (1992)
Sax. Quartet (Sop, Alto, Ten, Bari) w/orchestra 2,2,2,2--2,2,0,0-timp, perc, str.

Flourish! (2013)
Orchestra 2,2,2,2--4,2,3,1-timp, perc, str.

Madame Grand Doigts (2014)
Chamber Orchestra 1,1,1,1--1,1,1,1-timp, perc. str.

*Wolf Skin (2014)
Tenor, upright bass and piano
Text by Mary McMyne

The Spindle Whorl (2014)

Duologue (2015)
Horn and Marimba

In Memory (2015)
SATB choir w/piano
Text by Elizabeth Jennings

Nursery Naptime (incl. Lullaby) (2015)
Brass Quintet

Galop (2016)
String Quartet

Please All, Please None (2017)
Woodwind Quintet

Thumbtack Best Pro of 2015

Selected works can be heard on my Soundcloud channel

email contact:
fictacello@gmail.com or


Wolf Skin (2014)
"Wolf Skin," a song originally written for male voice, upright bass, and piano, was written to accompany a prose poem of the same name by Mary McMyne, which originally appeared in the Los Angeles Review (Red Hen Press, 2013) and was subsequently reprinted as the title poem in McMyne's Elgin-Award-nominated collection (Wolf Skin, Dancing Girl Press, 2014). The lyrics and music retell the Little Red Riding Hood folktale from the huntsman's perspective, putting the listener into the position of the hero in the Brothers Grimm variant as he enters the grandmother's house. "Inside," the baritone sings, "the shadows shape a riddle, a story. The half-burnt candle in the kitchen, the unwashed dishes. The cloth-covered basket by the door." With these lines, we travel into the grandmother's house with the huntsman, the piano manifesting the huntsman's realization of what happened before he arrived. The discord between the voices, like the poem, questions the classic tale, interrogating the familiar trope of huntsman as hero at the same time as it pays homage to Franz Schubert's Erlkönig with its driving rhythm and dark tone.

Performers in this recording:
Joseph Regan - tenor
Tim McReynolds - piano
Marimba Mantra (1991)
This piece was originally written as a challenge by another composition student to write a work based on a two-note motif. I have always enjoyed giving myself limits and then seeing how much I could do within those limits.

Performers in this recording:
Richard Short - marimba
Thais Perkins - piano
Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano (1990)
This composition is one of seven works to receive Honorable Mention in the 1990 ASCAP Victor Herbert Young Composers' Competition, chamber ensemble category.

The first half is written as a wistful, melancholy recollection of a child's song, first appearing high in the cello's register, accompanied by planing fifths in the piano and occasional echoes in the clarinet.

The MP3 is from the second half of the piece.

Performers in this recording:
Gail Carpenter - clarinet
Elizabeth Skola - cello
Louis Wendt - piano
Three Short Studies for Solo Cello (1988)
I have written many etudes and solo cello pieces over the years for my students and colleagues. Three Short Studies were written to explore color and range limits of the instrument. The opening movement alternates between pizzicato statements and occasional arco outbursts, with melodic lines often ending with octave displacements.

The second movement features double stops and plays with dissonance at the second and seventh as well as mixed meter rhythms.

The final movement relies heavily on artificial harmonics and re-tunes the low C down to a low G so the final statements rumble down to octave Gs in contrast to the high overtones.

The MP3 is the second movement of this work.

Performer in this recording:
Ihsan Kartal - cello