Evan Chambers: WFIU’s Contemporary Composer For November

A traditional Irish fiddler as well as a composer, Evan Chambers often blurs the line between folk and classical music.

  • Composer Evan Chambers

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    Photo: Myra Klarman

    Composer Evan Chambers

  • two men sit in conversation on a stage

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    Photo: Indiana State University, Office of Communications and Marketing

    Evan Chambers (left) and WFIU Music Director David Wood during a live Q&A session at Indiana State University's 2013 Contemporary Music Festival.

WFIU’s featured contemporary composer for the month of November is Evan Chambers. Originally from Alexandria, Louisiana, Chambers is currently Professor and Chair of Composition at the University of Michigan.

A traditional Irish fiddler as well as a composer, Evan Chambers often blurs the line between folk and classical music.  Raised on the edge of suburbia, Chambers found himself somewhere between rural and urban society and his musical interests were influenced by his father’s equally enthusiastic renditions of Tchaikovsky on the violin and John Henry on the five-string banjo.

For his solo album Cold Water Dry Stone, Chambers approached each work based on his personal encounters with the traditional musics of Ireland, Albania, and The United States. The music for the album was composed after Chambers traveled to Albania and features soprano Jennifer Goltz and the new-music ensemble Quorum, with whom Chambers serves as resident composer.

In February 2008, Chambers’ orchestral song cycle The Old Burying Ground was performed in New York’s Carnegie Hall. Inspired by a walk through a New England cemetery, the piece incorporates aspects of Irish traditional music, American folk song, Sacred Harp singing, and Albanian Polyphony, in addition to European classical music.

Chambers received his undergraduate degree in music from Bowling Green State University and his master and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan. His compositions teachers include William Albright, Leslie Bassett, Nicholas Thorne, and Marilyn Shrude, with studies in electronic music with George Wilson and Burton Beerman.

Recognized by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the International Luigi Russolo Competition, the Vienna Modern Masters Orchestral Competition, NACUSA, the American Composers Forum, and the Tampa Bay Composers Forum, Chambers’ works have been performed by the Cincinnati, Kansas City, Memphis, New Hampshire, and Albany Symphonies.

A recipient of individual artist grants from Meet the Composer, the Arts Foundation of Michigan and ArtServe Michigan, Chambers has also been a resident of the MacDowell Colony. He has received commissions from the Albany Symphony, The USMA Wind Ensemble, members of the Cleveland and St. Paul Chamber Orchestras, Quorum, the Greene String Quartet, the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, and the University of Michigan Bands, among others.

A diverse composer, Chambers’ compositional output includes works for orchestra, band, solo instruments, vocalists, choral works, chamber and electronic music. His works have been released on recordings by the Foundation Russolo-Pratella, Cambria, Centaur, Clarinet Classics, and Albany Records.

WFIU will feature music of Evan Chambers in our classical music programming throughout the month of November including an entire program devoted to Chambers on Horizons in Music,  Tuesday, November 5 at 10pm.

Heidi Siberz

Heidi Siberz moved to Bloomington in 2010 and is currently pursuing a doctorate in saxophone performance from Indiana University. She has served as an associate instructor of saxophone for the Jacobs School of Music and as a music cataloger for the William & Gayle Cook Music Library. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and exploring the Bloomington area with her husband.

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