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David Conte

Date of birth1955

Conte, David

American composer, conductor, choral clinician, and student of Nadia Boulanger. Born December 20 in Denver Colorado of musical parents, Conte’s father played trumpet in the Air Force Academy Band; his mother sang under Robert Shaw in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, and observing those rehearsals was among his earliest musical experiences. Conte studied piano and choral singing in the Lakewood (OH) public schools, where he was mentored by B. Neil Davis, before attending Bowling Green State University (OH), majoring in composition. After his studies with Boulanger as a Fulbright Scholar, and subsequent graduation from Bowling Green (Bachelor of Music, 1978; composition with Wallace DePue), he attended Cornell University (Master of Fine Arts; 1981, Doctor of Musical Arts; 1983; Composition with Karel Husa, Steven Stucky, and Robert Palmer; conducting with Thomas Sokol). Conte worked with Aaron Copland in 1982 preparing a thesis on his manuscript sketches. Since 1985 he has been Professor of Composition and Conservatory Chorus conductor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and joined the composition faculty of the European American Musical Alliance in Paris in 2010.

Conte has been regularly commissioned to compose music in multiple genres, including six operas and two film scores; his choral commissions include three works for Chanticleer, and works for the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, among others. Conte's first opera, The Dreamers (Philip Littell, librettist) received notice at its 1996 premiere, resulting in a commission from the Oakland-East Bay Symphony to extract from it a cantata, The Journey (2001). The Gift of the Magi (second opera; Nicholas Giardini, librettist) has received numerous productions since its 1997 premiere. His film scores include music for PBS documentary, Orozco: Man of Fire (2006), and Ballets Russes (2005). Prominent orchestral works include “Fantasy for Orchestra”, and “A Copland Portrait”. His organ compositions have received wide acceptance, especially “Soliloquy”, and “Pastorale and Toccata.”

Conte is recognized foremost for his choral music. His compositions (available exclusively through E.C. Schirmer) are characterized by careful text declamation, powerful rhythmic drive, and attention to harmonic language, phrasing, and balance. Conte's compositional voice reflects of the qualities of craftsmanship and harmonic sensibility taught by Boulanger and embodied by Aaron Copland. His choral works have been recorded by Chanticleer, St. Olaf College Choir, the American Repertory Singers, and Elektra Women’s Choir, among others. His works have received performances at conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, International Federation of Choral Music, American Guild of Organists, Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses, Chorus America and High School All-State concerts.

Representative Choral Works
Cantate Domino (1975)
Ave Maria (1991)
Charm me asleep (1993)
In Praise of Music (SSA 1991; SATB; 1994)
Invocation and Dance (TTBB 1986; SATB 1989)
The Waking (1985)
Elegy for Matthew (TTBB 1999; SATB 2000)
An Exhortation (2009)
A Hope Carol (2006)
The Nine Muses (ACDA Brock commission; 2007)

Select Recordings
David Conte: Music for Chorus and Organ, 2008, ARSIS Audio, CD159
A Choral Tapestry, 1997, St. Olaf Recordings, E 2047
Classic Elektra, 1995, Skylark Recordings, 9042
Chanticleer: Out of this World, 1994, Teldec, TLD 96515
M. A. Conran: A Study of David Conte’s Secular SATB Choral Works
with Non-Orchestral Score Complement (diss., U. Arizona, 2003)
D. P. DeVenney: “The Choral World of David Conte: A Conversation
with the Composer,” Choral Journal, xlvii , no.8 (February 2007): 77-80
D. Schrock: Choral repertoire. (Oxford U. Press; New York, 2009)
M. D. Wilkins: An analysis of three selected choral works of David
Conte utilizing ensemble accompaniment (diss., U. of Northern Colorado) - FORTHCOMING
D. Conte: A Copland Portrait: Memories of a Friendship
Choral Journal July, 2012)

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