Gary Davison – Festival Composer in Residence

American composer, Gary Davison, has found favour with performers, critics and audiences alike for the idiomatic expression and freshness of voice in his writing. His work has been described by various critics as “persuasive … imaginative and polished … sumptuous and engaging” (The Washington Post), “seductive and spirited … smooth, flexible and clear, allowing the music to shine from within” (Hamburger Abendblatt, Germany), as well as “breathtaking and exquisite … exactly the kind of rewarding challenge singers love best.” (The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians).

Mr Davison’s primary focus of writing is in the choral medium, which has earned him recognition as one of North America’s leading composers of refined liturgical music. Recent commissions include the Mount Saint Alban Communion Service from Washington National Cathedral, three anthems called A Lovett Trilogy from the Lovett School in Atlanta, a setting of the Magnificat & Nunc dimittis from Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville, and Light, Love, Life, a festal anthem written for the 2008 consecration service of the Rev’d Eugene Sutton as Bishop of Maryland. His anthem Glory to thee, my God, this night for Matthew Owens and the Choir at Wells Cathedral received its premiere there during the 70-10 New Music Wells Festival. Currently, he is at work on a large-scale piece for chorus and orchestra commissioned by the Virginia-based group, Choralis, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. It will be premiered in Washington, DC on 9/11/11.

An area of keen interest for Mr Davison is in setting and promoting the work of significant American poets such as the late, May Sarton; his acclaimed choral song cycle, A Storm of Angels, employs six of her evocative poems. He collaborates frequently with the Washington, DC-based poet, Alfred Chiplin, who has penned numerous texts especially for Mr Davison, including Flowers in the Snow, a non-liturgical Requiem weaving original lyrics with traditional Bible and Prayer Book passages. Presently, Mr Davison is creating a cycle of poems by Emily Dickinson and exploring the unique genre of “cowboy poetry” of the Southwestern United States, from whence he hails.

As the Organist and Choirmaster of Saint Francis Episcopal Church in Potomac, Maryland, Mr Davison leads a fully graded choral programme with boy and girl choristers, as well as adult women and men. Twice he has been awarded fellowships in composition at The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He served for two seasons as the inaugural Composer-in-Residence for Cantate Chamber Singers in Washington, for which he also performed as Keyboard Artist for seven seasons. He is a Dean’s Scholar graduate of Boston University (MusM and MusB, magna cum laude), a recipient of the Associate Certificate from the American Guild of Organists, and an inductee of Pi Kappa Lambda, the National Music Honor Society. Cathedral Music Press, Augsburg Fortress Publishing, Paraclete Press, and CMS/Oxford University Press all have published compositions by Mr Davison. Additionally, he now issues his own work through Little Bear Press.

November 2010