J.A. KAWARSKY


jkawarsky@rider.edu

J.A. Kawarsky Dr. J.A. Kawarsky (b. 1959) is Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, NJ. Dr. Kawarsky received his B.M. in composition from Iowa State University and his M.M. and D.M.A. from Northwestern University. At Northwestern he studied with John Paynter, Alan Stout and Frederick Ockwell. In 1982, Dr. Kawarsky conducted the Opera Company of the Negev Region in Be’er Sheva, Israel. Before coming to Westminster in 1989, he taught at Fort Hays State University, the University of Wisconsin, and Moraine Valley Community College. A well-known coach and director/conductor in the theater world, Dr. Kawarsky conducted the 2007 national tour of Peter Pan and prepared the music for the 2nd national tour of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He has been a music director at Stagedoor Manor, French Woods, Harand Camp for the Arts, Long Lake Camp of the Arts in New York, as well as for the Franklin Theatre Works of Clinton, NJ. He was the founding conductor of the New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus (Delaware Valley Men’s Chorus), and has also served as conductor of the Lehigh Valley Gay Men’s Chorus, Voices Chorale and was chosen to conduct Sing for the Cure for the Komen Foundation National Conference in 2002, and transcribe a new/reduced orchestration of the work. As a composer, he has written for all genres including solo instrument, orchestra, band, choral, vocal and theater. Recently, he received his 13th Composer Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). His 40-minute composition Prayers for Bobby for choir, orchestra, narrator and soloists, has received numerous performances throughout the United States and Canada and was recorded by the New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus and members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC. Dr. Kawarsky has been commissioned by numerous ensembles for original works and arrangements. In October of 2006, he was awarded the Outstanding Alumnus award from Iowa State University and was presented with a premiere of a new work for wind ensemble and alto saxophone solo, Fastidious Notes. In 2009, 17 universities throughout the United States commissioned him to compose a new symphonic band work. The resulting composition, Red Training Reels, was premiered in the September 2010. From 2010-2014, Dr. Kawarsky collaborated with lyricist/librettist Francine M. Gordon on the cantata Sacred Rights, Sacred Song, for choir, narrator and chorus and has been performed throughout the USA and Israel. Three movements from Sacred Rights, Sacred Song have been translated and will be performed and recorded this coming November in Havana, Cuba. The Five Step Program for the Encore Vocal Arts of Indianapolis was commissioned and premiered in 2016. His choral work Unending Love was commissioned by the New Jersey Choral Group Sharim v’Sharot and was premiered in May 2016, and was subsequently recorded by Clarum Sonum as part of the Westminster Composer’s Projestc. Recently the Moravian Philharmonic recorded his symphonic work And We All Waited... having been premiered by Wichita State University. His composition for piano and orchestra Episodes was recorded with Peter Laul, piano and the St. Petersburg State Philharmonic conducted by Vladimir Lande and released this past spring on Navona Recordings (Naxos). Most recently, Parma recorded his work Grace Dances for string Quartet and Oboe in Havana, Cuba which is to be released this autumn by Navona, and his Fastidious Notes for saxophone and orchestra was recorded in Chicago in May, 2017 by the Chicago Arts Ensemble with Jonathan Helton, saxophone. Recently he completed a new accompaniment to the Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes to be premiered and recorded in Spring 2018 by the University of Arizona and members of the Tucson Symphony. His music is published by Yelton Rhodes Music, Transcontinental Music, Southern Music, and Firebird Music.

Compositions

Compositions

Fastidious Notes
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Fastidious Notes, composed for Jonathan Helton, is a ten-minute work that alternates rather “agitated” rhythmic sections with more serene sections (one based upon a reworking of the American folk-song “Goodbye Old Paint”). The composition pays homage to American composer David Conte’s Dance with a disarmingly 5/4 metrical setting. In one listens closely, one may hear echoes of Britten (Rejoice in the Lamb), Copland (Billy the Kid), and perhaps Shostakovich (any piece that has a snare drum in it). As I was taught, and happily pass on to my students, borrow (i.e., stealing) other composer’s ideas and reworking them, is the highest form of flattery. To be released on Navona Records Feb. 2
Episodes
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Episodes for piano and orchestra was composed in 2001 for pianist Dr. William David of Iowa State University and the Westminster Community Orchestra in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Westminster Choir College of Rider University. The composition is scored for winds, brass, percussion, harp, strings and piano solo. Episodes has been revised extensively for this recording with pianist Peter Laul and the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Lande. The work begins with a short, slow introduction with a solo clarinet foretelling a theme that will later be developed. Immediately thereafter, the piano enters playing both a C minor and a C major scale simultaneously (an exercise to expedite the playing of piano warm-ups). Thereafter the piano takes us into the first major section marked Feroce. This section is in the asymetric meter of 7/8 and reminds the listener of the final movement of Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 7, or perhaps Dave Brubeck’s Blue Rondo ala Turk. The piano and the orchestra work in a call-and-response manner, and a tune that can best be described as reminiscent of Offenbach may be found. The second section introduces a slower motif, which is first developed by the piano followed by the orchestra with the piano accompanying. There is a short transition that utilizes pieces of the first major section and leads into a lilting 6/8 section where the orchestra and piano alternate developing a theme based on a melody taken from the Jewish Yom Kippur services, or perhaps from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. This third large section is followed by a section for strings and piano that develops the theme the clarinet introduced at the beginning of the work. This theme is based on the song “On Parent Knees” by Gerald Finzi (a composer whose works Dr. David accompanied on numerous occasions during the late 1970s and early 1980s). A piano cadenza follows, which leads back to the opening 7/8 theme and a climactic ending. http://www.navonarecords.com/catalog/nv6091/
And We All Waited...
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And We All Waited... was composed as a reaction not to the horrific shootings that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, but rather to the lack of any regulation being enacted that might prevent another episode such as this. It has now been, as of today,July 20, 2016 1,314 days since the shootings. The composition quotes many other composers,including Nielsen, Shostakovich, Reicha, in search of an answer.... The piece concludes with us still "waiting for the fat lady to sing."