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David Smooke

CountryUnited States of America

Composer David Smooke currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland, where he teaches music theory, rock music history, and composition at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. The Washington Post claims that "Smooke has some of the most uninhibited brain cells around" and describes his music as "superb [...] a kaleidoscopic sonic universe where anything could happen [...] one of those rare pieces you fall in love with from the get-go." His honors include those from the Maryland State Arts Council, BMI (William Schuman Prize for Most Outstanding Score, BMI Student Composer Awards), the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the National Association of Composers USA, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, SCI/ASCAP (Regional Winner) and the Tampa Bay Composers’ Forum. He has composed commissions for groups and individuals including the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), CUBE, Quintet Attacca, pianist Amy Briggs, bassoonist Michael Parker-Harley (of Alarm Will Sound), bassist Jeffrey Weisner (of the National Symphony Orchestra), toy pianist Phyllis Chen (of ICE), and cellist/singer Victoria Bass, and has worked with such ensembles and performers as the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Pacifica String Quartet, eighth blackbird, the California E.A.R Unit, the University of Chicago Contemporary Chamber Players (now called Contempo), Dal Niente, Syzygy (the Rice University faculty new music ensemble), the University of Iowa Center for New Music, conductor Cliff Colnot, and cellist/singer Jody Redhage. His music has been featured on festivals including those hosted by Queens College (Aaron Copland School of Music), Rice University, Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Louisiana State University, the University of Iowa, S.U.N.Y. Buffalo, Bowdoin College, Bard Collage and East Carolina University. Previously he taught music theory as Visiting Assistant Professor at Ohio University; and music composition, history and theory at the Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University, the Merit School of Music, the University of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, the Birch Creek Music Performance Center, and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony Workshops.
David performs improvisations and original works on various instruments including toy piano, supported by Schoenhut toy pianos. As a member of the trio plinkTHUNKSqwak he plays free improvisation on toy piano with bassist Michael Formanek and clarinetist/bass clarinetist John Dierker. He has improvised as part of pieces by interdisciplinary artist Mayumi Ishino at venues in NewYork City, Philadlphia and Virginia, and is currently building solo improvisations utilizing electronic processing of toy piano, microtonally-tuned autoharp and other instruments.
In May 2010, David launched a blog with New Music Box, the online magazine of the American Music Center. In 2010, David also founded League of the Unsound Sound (LotUS), an ensemble devoted to experimental music, both written and improvised.
He received an M.M. degree from the Peabody Conservatory, a B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where he received the Century Fellowship, the highest fellowship offered by the Humanities Division. His composition teachers have included Shulamit Ran, Marta Ptaszynska, David Rakowski, John Eaton, Robert Hall Lewis, Ronald Caltabiano and Richard Wernick.

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