Composers Festival spotlight: Theo Chandler

Resident composer Theo Chandler comes to the 2019 Mizzou International Composers Festival by way of Houston, TX, where he currently is working on a doctorate of musical arts at the Rice University Shepherd School of Music.

He’s already had a busy summer, having served as composer in residence for the Maryland Wind Festival, held in June in Frederick, MD, and as a fellow at the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, which is going on right now in Suffolk, England.

The piece Chandler (pictured) has written for the MICF, “Familiar Punchlines,” will be performed by Alarm Will Sound along with new works from the seven other resident composers as part of the festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 27 at the Missouri Theatre.

A native of Hillsborough, NC, Chandler started playing clarinet in sixth grade band. He officially switched his focus to composing while earning his bachelor’s degree in music at Oberlin Conservatory, and went on to earn a master’s degree in composition from The Juilliard School.

His honors as a composer include a Charles Ives Scholarship from the Academy of Arts and Letters and a Morton Gould Award from ASCAP, both in 2018. In addition, while at Juilliard, Chandler was selected as the winner of the school’s Orchestra Competition, Gena Raps Competition, and New Juilliard Ensemble Competition.

He previously has been a fellow at Tanglewood Music Center, Copland House CULTIVATE, and Aspen Music Festival, and was selected for an I-Park Composer + Musicians collaborative residency with Akropolis Reed Quintet.

Chandler has been the Young Artist Composer for Da Camera, Emerging Composer Fellow for Musiqa, and the Young Composer in Residence for the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings. He also has received commissions from the New York Youth Symphony First Music Program, Les Délices, Golden West Winds, cellist Amir Eldan, flutist Alexa Still, and others.

He also is active as a clarinetist, and to date has collaborated on the premieres of more than 100 pieces by fellow composers. Combining both of his principle pursuits, Chandler has performed his own work “Modern Etude for Clarinet” at the Kennedy Center and the Akron New Music Festival, his “Four Homophonic Studies” for Oberlin’s commencement recital, and his “Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra” for Oberlin’s Concerto Competition finals.

For more about Theo Chandler, listen to his recent interview on Classical 90.5 FM’s “Mizzou Music” program. You can hear some of his music in the embedded players below.

Two Taylor Songs, performed by soprano Ally Smither and Tanglewood Music Center Woodwind Fellows in 2017

“A Delicate Perpetuum,” performed by The Zafa Collective on December 18, 2016 at Ganz Hall in Chicago, IL.