Composer Biographies

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José Luis Gómez Aleixandre is a Spanish composer-conductor born in 1989 in Valencia and currently living in Switzerland. He completed his BMus both in Orchestral Conducting (C. S. M. Valencia) and Composition (Sibelius Academy – Helsinki) during the year 2015. He has been also visiting workshops as well as taking private tuition in both fields. His teachers include Juhani Nuorvala, Andrés Valero-
Castells, Manuel Galduf, Jorma Panula or Donato Renzetti among others. As a conductor José’s activities include symphony and wind orchestras as well as choirs or ensembles. His compositions have been played in Spain, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, Poland and USA. José’s compositional work has been recognized internationally with several grants, prizes and commissions. He is currently conducting two wind bands and working with some commissioned compositions. Next performances of his works are to be heard in Switzerland, Spain,Italy, Finland and USA during the season 2015-16.

Conrad Asman (b.1996) grew up and was educated in northern Johannesburg where he took up the piano at age four. He commenced voice training and violin at a later stage and completed his schooling with six distinctions in 2014. Starting in 2010, he produced his first important works under the tutelage of Dr Christo Jankowitz. Of these the trio for Flute, Cello and Piano entitled Where the Gentle Sprite Resides (2012) received its premiere at the Mainly Mozart Festival at the Boboa Theatre in San Diego, California.

Conrad currently studies at the South African College of Music where, as the youngest undergraduate participant, he won the College's Cone of Composition for his work entitled Hysteria: Antic Impulses for Chamber Ensemble. During the same year, he won joint first prize of the KZN Philharmonic Composition Competition 2015, for his large orchestral piece Igniting Kites & Flying Fireworks. Following a subsequent performance by the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, this piece has also been published in the International Journal of Contemporary Composition in 2016. These important opportunities have enabled Conrad’s music to be performed on both nationwide and international capacities. This year (2016), Conrad attended the Young Artist Summer Festival, held at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he was able to work with internationally acclaimed composers such as David Ludwig, Shinuh Lee, Johnathan Bailey Holland, Alyssa Weinberg and Nick DeBerardino. Conrad looks forward to interacting with more musicians on both local and international platforms.


Alexander Campkin's music, described as 'fresh and attractive' by Gramophone, has attracted the attentions of some of the top ensembles. His work has been performed or broadcast in over thirty countries and features on 15 CDs, one of which was Christmas CD of the Year for Classic FM. 

Alexander (b. 1984) has received over sixty commissions from organisations including The Royal Opera House, The London Mozart Players, The Tallis Scholars, The Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Aldeburgh Music, The BBC Performing Arts Fund, The Swedish Arts Council, New London Children's Choir, Episcopal School of Jacksonville Florida, The Joyful Company of Singers and The Theatinerkirche Vokalkapelle Munich. He has been appointed Composer in Residence of Ampersandance Contemporary Dance Company, The Fulham Camerata Choir and Orchestra, The Cantus Ensemble, The Fourth Choir, The Portsmouth Grammar School, Southampton University Chamber Choir and Neresheim Abbey in Germany. 

Alexander studied music at Oxford University, the Royal Academy of Music and the University for Performing Arts in Vienna, receiving tuition from Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Robert Saxton, Stephen Montague, Michael Jarrell and Simon Bainbridge. He has been elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music for services to music.

Rebekah Driscoll (b.1980) enjoys composing for unusual combinations of instruments and voices, exploring the connections between language and music. She often writes poetry for her vocal works or constructs a text from diverse and sometimes multilingual sources. Recent projects address social issues, such as inequality and environmental stewardship, from a perspective that is both thoroughly researched andintensely personal.

Major works include Apart/ment, a song cycle for four singers and four instrumentalists on the theme of homelessness, and the mobile-form Driscoll Alphabet for chorus, which allows singers to create structures that uniquely suit their tastes and abilities. From Liberty and Fragrant Harbors, an album of Ms. Driscoll’s recent vocal ensemble music, is scheduled for release in spring 2016.

Originally from New Hampshire, USA, Ms. Driscoll holds degrees from Sarah Lawrence College and Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, City University of New York. Her composition teachers include Chester Biscardi, Jason Eckardt, and Tania León. Her music has been performed around the world by ensembles such as Aviva Players, Bel Canto Chamber Singers, Cantori New York, Choral Chameleon, Cygnus Ensemble, dissonArt (Greece), Erie Saxophone Quartet, Ghostlight Chorus, Grupo Novo da UniRio (Brazil), Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, Manhattan Wind Ensemble, Opus 5 Woodwind Quintet (Colorado), The TaiHei Ensemble, and VocalEssence. Ms. Driscoll is a member of the American Composers Forum and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Please visit for more information.

Charles Halka’s works have been performed in North America, Europe, and Hong Kong by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra led by Marin Alsop, the Mexican National Symphony Orchestra, the Lviv Philharmonic, Mivos Quartet, Fort Worth Opera Studio, counter)induction, Volti, Callithumpian Consort, ÓNIX Ensamble (Mexico), PRO ARTE eNsemble (Russia), Aquarius (Belgium), and Jauna Muzika (Lithuania), among others.

Performances have taken place at venues and events such as the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, The Kennedy Center, ISCM World Music Days, Foro Internacional de Música Nueva, the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress, and the Intimacy of Creativity partnership led by composer Bright Sheng. Halka is a recipient of the Copland House Residency Award, and over the last few years, was in residence with Houston’s critically acclaimed Musiqa (2014-15) and the Foundation for Modern Music (2011-14). Other residencies include those at the MacDowell Colony and the Sarbievijaus Cultural Center in Kražiai, Lithuania, where he wrote And Jill Came Tumbling After, a chamber opera (libretto by John Grimmett) for the Baltic Chamber Opera Theater that was selected for Fort Worth Opera’s 2015 Frontiers showcase. Imaginary Spaces, a dance and percussion project in collaboration with Frame Dance Productions, was awarded support from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.

Charles earned undergraduate and master’s degrees from The Peabody Conservatory and a doctorate from Rice University. He is Assistant Professor of Composition and Theory at Western Washington University. More information at

Pertti Jalava (b. 1960 in Turku, Finland) has composed numerous works for various chamber ensembles and orchestra, among them four symphonies, a flute concerto and a double concerto for piano and flute. He has also written a considerable volume of music for big band and his jazz ensemble, in which he playes drums and keyboards. Jalava has won a number of prizes in Finnish and international composition competitions with works for string orchestra, wind orchestra, chamber ensemble, jazz ensemble and big band. Works by him have been performed by many orchestras and ensembles in Finland and abroad. He has been a full-time composer since 2001.

Jalava has studied composition – and music in general – almost entirely on his own. In 1993, having already created (since 1979) an extensive repertoire influenced by rock and classical music for his rock and jazz ensembles, he studied theatre composition with the American Craig Bohmler on a six-month course run by the Finnish Music Theatre Association. As his final assignment he composed a chamber opera called Paradise. Having completed this course, a turning point in his career, Jalava embarked on an intensive course of private study and attended the composition laboratories held by the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra and the University of Turku in 1994, 1996 and 1998.

Though stylistically he keeps his two main genres (jazz / chamber and orchestral music) separate, without engaging in crossover, he does allow influences to travel between the two and they have many features in common: the important role assigned to rhythm and melody, polyphony, picturesque narrative and richness of event. His primary objectives are, Jalava says, emotional and narrative expression. 

Jerome Kurtenbach (J Rod) is an avid composer, producer, artist and musician. Along with Rachel Bloom, he has written the new musical Broadway Crazy! and composed and orchestrated for the CWs comedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. He has scored the award winning score for the short Touch and is currently scoring the feature Cognitive. Recently premiered, his opera Unleashed is continuing to be developed for further performances. Kurtenbach released his premier album Exit (as J Rod), and has co-written and produced the albums Afraid of Karma, Suck It Christmas!!!, Please Love Me, and Rattle My Cage, and singles Love Is Letting Go & It’s Never Too Late with Amanda McAllister. He also arranges for the San Diego, Philadelphia, and LA Gay Men’s Choruses. He developed the new curriculum and taught Musical Improv at the Philadelphia Improv Theater having previously worked as an MD for The Second City Hollywood's Really Awesome Improv Show. He serves as Musical Director (MD) for The Apple Sisters Variety Show, arranged and orchestrated their albums 1943 and Happy Holidoozy Merry Christmess. He served as MD and Arranger for the World Premiere of the New Musicals Town Without Pity, I Want My 80's Musical, and One Way Ticket to Hell. Kurtenbach holds a professional film scoring degree from USC recording at Warner Bros. and Capitol Records; he also has a Master's and Bachelor's degree in Composition from Oklahoma City University, studying under Dr. Edward Knight. Kurtenbach is a member of ASCAP.

Tomás Olano was born in Tandil (Buenos Aires, Argentina) on May 12, 1983. Started  taking  piano lessons at age nine with Susana Tolosa. Received his composer degree from the University of La Plata, where he studied with Mariano Etkin, Cecilia Villanueva and Carlos Mastropietro. His music has been played and recorded in Czech Republic, South Africa, Germany, France, USA, Argentina and Venezuela by several ensembles and soloists. He teaches at the conservatory in his hometown and has worked as a lecturer at various seminars and training courses. In addition to his activities as composer, performer and teacher, Olano is music director of the Jornadas de Perfeccionamiento Musical and Ensemble of Contemporary Music of Tandil's city (EMC).

Eric Pazdziora (b. 1981) is a composer, author, teacher, and pianist. His striking a balance between ancient traditions and contemporary concerns, has been published by GIA and Alliance, recorded by several choirs and ensembles, and performed throughout the world. Reviewers have described his works as “fresh, exciting, and well-crafted” (Pastoral Music, 36:5) and “an instant classic” (Global Christian Worship, July 2015). Recent commissions have included choral works, instrumental pieces, art songs, film scores, and musical theatre. Most recently, he collaborated with award-winning author Jane Yolen for an original song cycle and a dramatic setting of poems from her book Ekaterinoslav. Eric is a doctoral student in music composition at the University of Maryland under Dr. Mark Wilson. He also holds an M.M. in composition from the University of North Carolina—Greensboro, where he studied with Dr. Mark Engebretson and Dr. Alejandro Rutty, and a B.Mus. in composition from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, where his primary teacher was Dr. Edwin T. Childs. Eric has participated in master classes with Liviu Marinescu, Sebastián Zubieta, Martin Gendelman, and Samuel Adler, and is a graduate of the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, studying with pupils of Nadia Boulanger. For more information, visit


Kala Pierson is an American composer and sound artist. Vivid, expressive, and rhythmically free, her pieces have been performed in more than 30 countries on six continents, widely awarded and commissioned, and published by Universal Edition. Her music's "seductive textures and angular harmonies" (Washington Post) are "intricately structured, both mathematical and lyrical" (Dnevnik), and her longtime focus on setting documentary and culturally resonant texts leads to works of "marvelous political power" (Louis Andriessen). She's held season-long composer residencies with American Opera Projects, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, and San Francisco Choral Artists; and she has received the 2016 GALA Choruses consortium commission from fifteen U.S. choral groups. With deep interests in non-western musics, she has founded or cofounded many cross-cultural projects and collaborations, and she's taught and lectured in several countries. Her music has been heard in festivals including Musica Viva (Portugal), Contemporanea/Citta di Udine (Italy), Tanglewood (USA), International Congress of Art and Technology (Brazil), Art Basel Miami Beach (USA), and the International Computer Music Conference (USA). Born in 1977, she studied composition at Eastman School of Music and Bard College at Simon's Rock. She lives in Philadelphia with her spouses and son. Connect with her: kalapierson on Twitter and Facebook, or

Andrew Rodriguez (b. 1989) brings a unique musical background to formulate the core of his musical output. Rodriguez’s interest in music began with stints as guitarist for various metal/hardcore bands as a teenager. This path culminated with three full-length albums as one of the main songwriters for hardcore/punk band, Close Your Eyes. Having spent over three years touring the country’s various hardcore scenes, Andrew has been able to amalgamate the inherent aggression and the acute sense of social awareness that is present within the hardcore community. These traits and experiences combine to create a musical language that is both raw and dramatically expressive. Rodriguez retains an interest in traditional Classical genres, but continuously pursues challenging opportunities and progressive methods of expression. Recent commissions include works for A/B Duo, MAPS Trio, the Abilene Chamber Players, as well as collaborations with violist Matt Darsey, flutist Tammy Yonce, and oboist Jonathan Thompson. Andrew is actively seeking collaborations with up-and-coming new music ensembles and choral institutions. He holds a B.M. in Music Theory & Composition from Hardin-Simmons University and has plans to pursue his Master’s in Composition soon.


Thomas Schuttenhelm is a composer whose compositions have a strong conceptual component exhibiting an intentional belatedness that gives expression to the post-historical conditions of the 21st century. His music uses embodied programs and celebrates in allusions to the musical, literary, poetic, visual, and theatrical influences that resonate throughout his compositions. Much of his music is the result of collaborations with musicians, poets, actors and artists. The music he writes is often as much ‘about’ the people he collaborates as it is for them to perform. In addition to his collaborations, he often curates and performs solo recitals. He has worked with numerous choreographers and directors on various theatrical productions. His compositions can be heard on numerous recordings and have been performed throughout the country and abroad. For more information go to

Described as “Relatively simple, elegantly-turned, beautifully vocal music with a compelling through-line from start to finish” (Gabriel Jackson), Michael Robert Smith’s (b. 1989) music has been performed across the country by excellent groups and performers, including The Crossing, The Vox Mousai Women’s Choir, pianist Joshua Wilson, and baritone Andrew Maggio. In 2015, Michael received the premiere of his “Piano Prelude No.1” from pianist Joshua Wilson, and was named as one of four composition fellows at the inaugural Big Sky Choral Initiative, where Donald Nally conducted The Crossing in the premiere of his choral piece “Reconciliation”.

Upcoming projects include a residency at the Greensboro ChoralFest 2017, which includes the premiere of two new works for choir under the direction of Alexis Renee Ford. Michael will also be working with Chorosynthesis in their project “Empowering Silenced Voices 2.0” where “Reconciliation” will receive its West Coast premiere under the direction of Jeremiah Selvey and Wendy Moy.

In addition to composing, Michael is an active choral singer (tenor) and church musician. He has performed with professional groups including Vox Populi (Delaware), Vox Fideles (New Jersey), and as a staff singer at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Michael is currently a graduate student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studies composition with David Garner. Michael earned his Bachelor’s degree in Composition from Westminster Choir College and has previously studied composition with Benjamin C.S. Boyle, Philip Lasser, Christian Carey, Stefan Young, and Gabriel Jackson.

Keane Southard (b. 1987) writes music that is an amalgamation of his many diverse musical influences, from medieval chant to 70's rock, Bach to the Blues, and German romanticism to Latin dance forms. His compositions have been performed by ensembles such as the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Longfellow Chorus and Orchestra, Juventas New Music Ensemble, Tesla Quartet, Playground Ensemble, Encore Wind Ensemble, and Ars Nova Singers. His music has been described as “highly-professional and well-orchestrated” (Portland Press Herald). He has been a recipient of many awards including the Lee Goldstein Composition Award from Baldwin-Wallace College, the Cecil Effinger Composition Award and George Lynn Prize from The University of Colorado-Boulder, First Prize in the Longfellow Chorus International Composers Cantata Competition, and the Charles B. Olson Young Composer Award. He has been awarded residency fellowships at Playa and the Kimmel-Harding-Nelson Center. Keane earned his M.M. in composition at the University of Colorado-Boulder where he served as a graduate assistant in music theory. His composition teachers include Kenneth Girard, Loris Chobanian, Daniel Kellogg, Jeffrey Nytch, Carter Pann, and Richard Toensing. Keane spent 2013 in Brazil as a Fulbright scholar doing research on music education and currently teaches at Bennington College in Vermont.

C. G. (Sonny) Walden, III is an active conductor, teacher, singer and award winning composer and published poet. His arrangement of “God of Grace” was named Best Arrangement of 1996 by the Composer’s Guild. He has also won the Texas Music Educators Association Composition Prize, The Arnold Salop Memorial Composition Prize and was first runner up in the Texas Choral Directors composition contest. His graduate work in composition was done while on Fellowship at the University of North Texas and his teachers included Martin Mailman, Larry Austin and Merrill Ellis. He has been a member of the Robert Shaw Festival Chorus at Carnegie Hall and has been a frequent tenor soloist with the Savannah Symphony.

He taught composition at Georgia Southern University and presently serves as an ordained Minister of Music at Dunwoody United Methodist Church. Choirs under Mr. Walden’s direction have appeared at Georgia ACDA and on Georgia Public Radio as well as many regional and national and international church events. His music is published by Walden3Music, LudwigMasters Publishing, Kalmus, Abingdon Press and Hoyt Editions and is frequently performed in universities, churches, concert halls and schools throughout the United States. Reviews of his compositions have called them “profound and sensitive” “modern-but-accessible” and “accessible but not common.” His poetry has been published by PoetWorks Press, Kota blog and Sojourners online.