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by Daniel Hathaway

Theofanidis---ChristopherLast week at Baldwin Wallace University, Christopher Theofanidis joined a distinguished list of composers — including such names as William Bolcom, John Corigliano, Witold Lutoslawski and Krzysztof Penderecki — whose music has been gathered into a week-long Focus Festival to be rehearsed, discussed and performed by BW students and faculty. Begun in 1984 by Loris Chobanian and Elinore Barber, the festival was revived this year by BW composer-in-residence Clint Needham, who chose Theofanidis as the person to celebrate.

The festival culminated in a Friday evening concert by student chamber ensembles, a Saturday evening concert by the Motet Choir, Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra and a Sunday afternoon concert by faculty chamber ensembles. I “attended” the Saturday concert via BW’s new streaming service — along with fifty-some fellow viewers — and heard the Sunday performance live.

Unlike some of the thornier composers in Focus Festival history, Christopher Theofanidis makes friends quite easily through his music — a remarkable trait because there’s nothing facile or consciously ingratiating about his musical style. Read the rest of this entry »


by Daniel Hathaway

Theofanidis---ChristopherBaldwin Wallace University is in the middle of a busy week celebrating and performing the music of one of our century’s most popular composers. Christopher Theofanidis, whose best-known work, Rainbow Body, has been performed by more than a hundred symphony orchestras, is the subject of the University’s most recent “Focus Festival,” an immersive experience recently revived by its new composition professor Clint Needham, himself a BW graduate.

“It’s the first thing we talked about after I arrived,” Needham said in a phone conversation. “We hope to do a Focus Festival every two years.” How did BW arrive at its choice of composer this time? “Chris immediately came to mind. I’ve known his music for a long time and he mentored me with an Orpheus Chamber Music Commission. We wanted someone who could communicate and make new music engaging and interesting for undergraduates. Chris has taught at Juilliard, Peabody and Yale. It was almost a no-brainer.”

Theofanidis will find BW to be a hotbed of young composers. “I have twenty-one composition students!” Needham exclaimed. “We auditioned last year and I thought that half of the people we invited would accept, but they all came. That’s a good problem to have!” Read the rest of this entry »

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