No Extra Notes

Shawn Brogan Allison
September 27, 2010, 1:52 am
Filed under: Composers


Shawn Brogan Allison

Born: December 4, 1976

Current Location: Chicago, Il



Shawn Brogan Allison’s music has been described as “playful and inventive” (Chicago Sun-Times), “smartly crafted,” “lyrical, otherworldly,” “quirky,” and “intriguing” (Chicago Classical Review). The Chicago-based composer and saxophonist’s music has been played by eighth blackbird, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), The New Fromm Players, The Esoterics, Cantus, and The Cornell Chorale. His awards include a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Tanglewood Fellowship, the 2009 Polyphonos competition (U.S. Composer category winner), a Javits Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education, the 2004 Jerome Commissioning Competition, and second prize in the 2009 Cello-Riss competition (Norway). Some upcoming projects include a meditation on American national identity called Three Colors, for symphonic band, to be premiered by the St. Olaf Band in the spring of 2011; a piece inspired by fluid and particle dynamics called Currents for two saxophones, percussion, and piano for a premiere by Primary Colors; and a song cycle setting poems from Pablo Neruda’s El Mar y las Campanas for mezzo-soprano, bass, and chamber ensemble for a premiere by Laura Mercado-Wright and Alan Dunbar with the Pacifica Quartet and eighth blackbird in May of 2012.

Shawn has been involved in the administration of several new music groups. He has served as the steering committee leader of the Chicago Composers Forum, and was a founding board member of the Ithaca, NY-based new music group Tabula Rasa.  Shawn also served as the University of Chicago’s composition chair for the annual Midwest Graduate Music Consortium. As a saxophonist, Shawn recently performed in Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music, and with the MAVerick Ensemble, Ensemble X, the CCCP (Cornell Contemporary Chamber Players), Tabula Rasa, the Empire Saxophone Quartet, and the University of Chicago’s New Music Ensemble.  He can occasionally be heard leading the Klezmer band at K.A.M. Isaiah Israel Congregation in Chicago. As a member of the New Heritage Saxophone Quartet, he was a semi-finalist at the Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition, and performed in the 2003 World Saxophone Congress. Shawn has given world- and US- premiere performances of many works, including pieces by David Lang and Jacob ter Veldhuis. He has performed as a soloist with the Cornell Wind Ensemble and the St. Olaf Band, and was a saxophone instructor at Cornell University and Ithaca College.  As a composer/performer, he recently began working on a series of pieces simply titled “Improvisations” for solo saxophone, which explore the nebulous and bi-directional relationship between improvisation and composition; he performed the first piece in the series at the 2009 Bowdoin International Music Festival.

Shawn grew up in Newport News, Virginia, where he began his musical education as a saxophonist, studying with Dennis Zeisler. He holds degrees in composition and saxophone performance from St. Olaf College (B.M.) and Ithaca College (M.M.), where his primary teachers were Dana Wilson, Timothy Mahr, and Peter Hamlin. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Composition at the University of Chicago, where he has studied composition with Shulamit Ran and Marta Ptaszynska, orchestration with Cliff Colnot, and theory with Steven Rings, Lawrence Zbikowski, and Thomas Christensen.

Music © 2010 Shawn Brogan Allison

Photograph © 2010 Lauren Osborne

Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of No Extra Notes

Theme Music composed by Sarah Horick

Podcast © 2010 No Extra Notes

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