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James Niblock

CountryUnited States of America
OccupationComposer, Conductor, Performer

James Niblock was born in Scappoose, Oregon, in November 1, 1917. His musical background includes violin study with Franck Eichenlaub of Portland, Oregon and Jascha Brodsky of Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia. After serving in the US Air Force (1942-46), he began his graduate work at the Colorado College in Colorado Springs where he studied violin with Josef Gingold and music composition with Roy Harris and Paul Hindemith. From 1948 until 1985 he was a faculty member of the College of Music at Michigan State University where he taught theory and composition, performed in the Beaumont String Quartet, and served as Chairman of the College of Music for 15 years, during which time he also was Concertmaster of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra.

Niblock has more than 150 major compositions of which 75 have been published and are frequently performed. Since his retirement from the University, he continues to compose, conduct, and perform—especially during the summer sessions of the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Muskegon County, Michigan. His most recent compositions (since 2000) include: three operas; two double concertos for Violin, Clarinet, and orchestra; several short pieces for solo instruments (clarinet, double bass); as well as numerous choral settings of verse by Medieval and Modern poets.

While James Niblock holds a B.A. and B.Ed. from Washington State University, an M.A. from Colorado College, and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, his most cherished experiences include:

1) The summers (1975-85) spent in Europe conducting the Blue Lake International Youth Orchestra and directing the International Blue Lake Youth Camp in Bavaria.

2) The sabbatical on a Composition Fellowship at the MacDowell Colony in NH.

3) The several Sabbatical terms spent with the eminent Ethno-musicologist, Samuel Marti, who was engaged in the study of Pre-Cortesian instruments from Central Mexico. Together they collected and recorded performances of these instruments which subsequently enhanced many of Niblock’s lectures and enabled his doctoral students to continue similar studies.

4) The three visits to Argentina and Brazil to lecture about and to conduct orchestral concerts of contemporary American Music.

In April, 2006, Michigan State University honored Dr. Niblock with the first ever Distinguished Emeritus Faculty Award for his continung work in Fine Arts Education—mainly accomplished through his more than 40 years association with Blue Lake fine Arts Camp, an organization founded for and dedicated to promoting Arts Education for young people.

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