Bruce Stark

Composer

Author

About

Every new piece I compose is a new challenge, a new experiment for me. It doesn’t have to be an experiment with a new musical language or theoretical approach. Just the challenge of creating a good new work of the highest quality I am capable of is plenty of challenge and experimentation. My best work seems to happen when I am not trying hard to be original or experiment. It is a more natural, organic process, though it involves a great deal of self-criticism to produce something I am happy with.

The music of American composer Bruce Stark (born in San Diego and raised in Lakeside, California) reflects the varied elements of his musical upbringing: studies in percussion, jazz piano, and classical composition. After three years in college as a physics major he began formal studies in composition at California State University, Northridge, where he studied with Aurelio de la Vega and Daniel Kessner, winning the school's composition prize in his junior and senior year. He went on to complete a masters degree in composition at the Juilliard School as a student of Roger Sessions and Vincent Persichetti. Thereafter for more than 20 years he resided in Tokyo, producing a collection of works which reveal a unique and compelling musical voice, drawing from a multiplicity of disciplines and sensibilities. In 2013 he returned to the U.S. and joined the faculty of DigiPen Institute of Technology (Seattle area) as professor of composition and music theory. Recent commissions have included his Suite for Horn, Trombone and Piano for Megumi Kanda (Milwaukee Symphony), Ancient Presence for Native American flute and piano for John Barcellona, Urban Nocturnes for German pianist Kai Schumacher and Suite for Two Tenor Trombones and Piano for Don Lucas.His music, ranging from solo piano and chamber music to choral and orchestral pieces, has been performed on the concert stages of four continents, recorded on numerous CDs and broadcast on radio programs worldwide. Awards include First Prize in the Composers Guild Contest, Second Prize in the Barlow International Competition, ASCAP composer awards and others. His compositions have been featured in the National Flute Association Convention, The American Piano Festival in Maryland, The International Trombone Festival, the Canberra International Chamber Music Festival, as part of Sakura Week festivities at Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and many times as part of the Keys To The Future piano music series in New York City, which commissioned two works from him. Other performances have included the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra under Timothy Muffitt, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra under David Charles Abell, the Rapides Symphony under Joshua Zona, the Westwood Wind Quintet, flutist Paula Robison, pianist Anthony De Mare and Il Cantori Singers of New York. Recordings of his works have been released by Victor Entertainment (Japan), Hanssler Classic (Germany), Centaur Records (US) under a grant from the Alice M. Ditson Fund, Red Kite Records (British pianist Seann Alderking's performances of his piano works), and separate pieces are included in releases by Colorado-based vocal group Ars Nova, the Tokyo Clarinet Ensemble, Japan Percussion Center and numerous performers.Stark's performances as pianist/arranger can be heard on several recordings (Victor Entertainment, Meister Music, ALM Records, Nami Records, MA Recordings and various independent labels). While in Tokyo he appeared as soloist, group leader and ensemble player in major concert halls throughout Japan as well as Shanghai's Grande Theatre, Kennedy Center, and on a six-country tour of South America sponsored by the Japan Foundation for cultural exchange. In 2013 he won First Prize in the solo jazz piano division of the Wild Flower Music International Recording Competition for his performance of Body and Soul.

Sheets

Interview

When I say that classical music is searching for new ways or that the classical music is getting a new face, what would come to your mind?

Presenting music in a visually attractive way is clearly a strong trend. In that sense I think many musicians are trying harder to appeal to audiences with interesting visual images. Youtube has made it a standard to experience music with video.

Do you think we musicians can do something to attract young generation into the classical music concerts? How will you proceed?

I think the predominance of Youtube as a listening/watching experience influences classical musicians to be more aware of the visual aspect, and appealing to audiences in this way.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you have your favorite piece (written by you) How did you start working on it?

No, I don’t have a particular favorite among my own pieces. There is no consistent pattern of how I compose. Usually I start a piece several times before I am satisfied enough to continue. Ideas come in a variety of ways. I work at the piano for small ensemble and solo pieces that contain the piano, because the physical aspect of the movement of hands often inspires ideas. When I compose for larger ensembles such as orchestra without piano, I often compose away from the piano. I usually revise pieces after their first performance. The creative process involves a lot of time and effort, but there is also a mysterious aspect that I don’t understand; I’m thankful that ideas come to me and accept the mystery.

We, Moving Classics TV, love the combination of classical music with different disciplines: music and painting, music and cinematography, music and digital art, music and poetry. What do you think about these combinations?

History is rich in examples of music combined with other art forms. And sometimes music which was created as absolute music is then borrowed for collaboration and takes on another life as part of something else. But the value and depth of the music probably required for that composer to approach it as absolute music and not be distracted by anything else. Other pieces have as their genesis a specific image or story or collaborative project. Both are valid. Most of my music is written as pure music for the concert stage, however some of my music has a specific story or intention that can be described in words.

Every new piece I compose is a new challenge, a new experiment for me. It doesn’t have to be an experiment with a new musical language or theoretical approach. Just the challenge of creating a good new work of the highest quality I am capable of is plenty of challenge and experimentation. My best work seems to happen when I am not trying hard to be original or experiment. It is a more natural, organic process, though it involves a great deal of self-criticism to produce something I am happy with.

http://www.brucestarkmusic.com/