We are delighted to welcome D. J. Sparr to our BTM family this autumn! As a composer, his “iridescent and wondrous” (San Jose Mercury News) as well as “boundary-erasing” (The New York Times) music has been presented by the California Symphony (where he has been their Young American Composer-In-Residence for three years), Houston Grand Opera, and he is frequently invited at guest composer and performer at various residencies at schools around the country including Grand Valley State University, Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Yale University to name a few. 

A major force in contemporary music, Sparr’s work is regularly performed around the world. His music has been described as having “bright, cheerful” with “attractive melodies” (The New York Times) and as “…Paganini on coke.” (Albuquerque Times) His opera, Approaching Ali, written for the Washington Opera, left the NYTimes “… wanting more.” Sparr’s most recent orchestral work, From Our Red Dirt, will premiere on January 12th with the Chicago Composers Orchestra. Gravida, his new work for soprano and chamber wind ensemble, written for fellow Black Tea Artist, soprano Lindsay Kesselman with words by librettist Caitlin Vincent, will premiere in late April 2019 with the University of North Carolina-Greensboro wind ensemble (cond. Kevin Geraldi). A new vibraphone concerto is currently in the works. 

That is just for D. J. Sparr, the composer! From giving the world premiere of Michael Daugherty’s electric guitar concerto, Gee’s Bend, with the Alabama Symphony in 2009 to his recent, critically acclaimed NAXOS release of Kenneth Fuch’s Glacier, with the London Symphony, Sparr is also leading the vanguard of young electric guitarists in the contemporary classical world. His recording of Fuch’s Glacier was praised for being highly ‘… atmospheric, written and performed with great flair.’ (Grammophone). He has written multiple electric guitar concertos for himself and others, Violet Bond and his Concerto for Jazz Guitar and Orchestra: Katrina, written specifically for Ted Ludwig. His new portrait disc, Electric Bands, will be released on January 25th on Innova Recordings and featuring four chamber works. 

A double threat as a composer and performer, we’re looking forward to hearing where D. J. Sparr’s ear and guitar takes us next.