David Avshalomov is a distinguished third-generation classical composer and orchestral conductor, and an accomplished vocalist. He was born in New York City in 1946, grew up in Oregon, and since 1978 has lived in Santa Monica, California. He represents a musical lineage whose story stretches from the Caucasus to Siberia, through China, to the US.
As a young student, David sang in school choruses; studied piano, music theory, and percussion; played timpani in student orchestras, and learned the joys of madrigal singing at home. He began composing (self-taught) and conducting in high school, and wrote and conducted his first compositions for his high school chorus. He earned degrees in music from Harvard (B.A., Magna cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa) and in orchestral conducting from the University of Washington (where he wrote a noted Doctoral dissertation on the Five Pieces for Orchestra of Arnold Schoenberg), with further conducting studies at Peabody, Aspen, and Tanglewood. His conducting teachers included George Bell, Stanley Chapple, Leo Mueller, Jean Morel, Henry Holt, Samuel Krachmalnick, Herbert Blomstedt, Werner Torkanowsky, Seiji Ozawa, and Leonard Bernstein. His composition teachers included Charles Jones (at Aspen); and John Verrall, Robert Suderberg, and William Bergsma (at UW).
AMERICAN PRIZE for Orchestral Composition 2012
Winner, Special Citation for Unique Artistic Achievement/Distinctive Merit
ACDA Silver Platter Award 2012 for Choral Repertoire of Outstanding Quality
A composer grounded in the traditions of Western classical music, David Avshalomov creates his works in an accessible modern romantic, neo-tonal style that balances a rich lyric gift with a characteristic rhythmic vitality and pungent harmonies. The forms he crafts are conservative and developmental, his compositional voice distinctive. The influences on his style include the great 20th-century European and American tonal composers, and both his father Jacob and his paternal grandfather, Aaron Avshalomoff.
“Melody is the thread of my daily life. I still find new paths through traditional musical forms, and fresh expression based in folk idioms and drawing on old melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic roots.”
He has composed works for solo voice, choruses, orchestra, band, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments, in forms ranging in scale from songs and incidental pieces to full-length oratorio. Recently he has been writing a lot of choral music. Both his programmatic instrumental works and his vocal works focus increasingly on issues of social justice, and our fundamental connection to nature–and wilderness.
He has had commissions from such ensembles as the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, Mission Chamber Orchestra, Musica Bella Orchestra of NY, Odyssea Chorus of Lisbon, Los Angeles Flute Orchestra, LA Clarinet Orchestra, Westwood United Methodist Church (LA), Anglican Chorale of Southern California, and Camerata Singers of Long Beach. He has also been Resident Composer with the Anglican Chorale, Torrance Civic Chorale, and Cantori Domino.
His compositions have been performed professionally across the U.S. and in Europe and Russia, and are recorded on the Albany and Naxos labels. He has earned grants from Meet the Composer, the American Music Center, the American Composer’s Forum, and the Durfee Foundation. His works have won prizes at the Aspen Festival, the Korg Competition, the Santa Monica Debut Concert series, a Special Citation from the American Prize for Orchestral Composition, and an ACDA Silver Platter Award for Outstanding Choral Repertoire.
At Harvard college, Avshalomov was a professional chorister and a frequent oratorio and motet soloist and madrigalist. He served a tour of duty of the USAF Band as a vocal soloist in the Singing Sergeants, arranger, composer, and timpanist. After moving to Los Angeles, he sang with several specialized chamber vocal groups including Madrigalia, Cantori di Mezzogiorno, and Soffio di Viento. He continues to sing as a professional bass soloist and section leader and has worked with such groups as the Anglican Chorale of Southern California, Cantori Domino (Santa Monica), Vox Pro, Temple Sha’arei Am, and Camerata Singers of Long Beach. He also presents solo recitals.
David Avshalomov is noted for his strong and nuanced bass/baritone voice, wide range, stylistic accomplishment, and emotional renditions. He brings to his own music and the music of others the sensibilities, interpretation, and expression of a mature vocal artist.
For over 20 years, Avshalomov worked professionally as a conductor of orchestras, choruses, bands, and opera. In 1980 he founded the Santa Monica Chamber Orchestra, a period-practice Baroque orchestra, which he led for a decade. He was music director of several other ensembles on both coasts, and has guest-conducted over 40 ensembles in the US and Japan. He toured in the Far East and Europe, and recorded his own music and that of his grandfather Aaron in Russia for the Naxos label. His conducting work has garnered repeated listings in Who’s Who in Music and Who’s Who in the West.