Bruce  Stark
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Bruce Stark is an award-winning American composer for the concert stage. His music embraces influences of jazz, classical and contemporary masters.

Here you’ll find news, videos, recordings, and an online store for purchasing scores.



The music of American composer Bruce Stark (born in San Diego) reflects the varied elements of his musical upbringing: studies in percussion, jazz piano, and classical composition. He completed a masters degree in composition at the Juilliard School as a student of Roger Sessions and Vincent Persichetti, thereafter residing in Tokyo for more than 20 years, producing a collection of works that reveal a compelling musical voice. In 2013 he returned to the U.S. and joined the music faculty of DigiPen Institute of Technology (Seattle area).  

From piano and chamber works to choral and orchestral pieces, Stark’s music has been performed on the concert stages of four continents, recorded on numerous CDs and broadcast on radio programs worldwide. He was chosen as the 2019 Commissioned Composer of the Year by the Washington State MTA for which he composed Sonata for Piano, and was winner of the 2019-2020 South Texas Brass Symposium Composition Competition for his Adagio and Allegro for horn, trombone and piano. Other awards include First Prize in the Composers Guild Contest, Second Prize in the Barlow International Competition, ASCAP composer awards and a Friends of Today's Music commission. His compositions have been featured in the National Flute Association Convention, American Piano Festival, International Trombone Festival, Canberra International Chamber Music Festival, MasterWorks Festival and BluePrints series of New York City. Other performances have included the Baton Rouge and Lansing symphonies under Timothy Muffitt, Hong Kong Philharmonic under David Charles Abell, Rapides and Jakarta symphonies, numerous woodwind quintets and pianists, and trombonists Megumi Kanda and Don Lucas.

Also an accomplished jazz pianist, in 2013 Stark won First Prize in the Wildflower Music Showcase International Recording Competition for his recording of Body and Soul.



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News Highlights 2019 ~

Molly Goforth (principal cellist, Baton Rouge Symphony) performed Stark’s Promise for cello and piano on January 8, 2019 at the Runnels School in Baton Rouge, January 17 at McNeese State University and January 18 at University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

January 19, 2019: Trombonist Joseph Jefferson led a performance of Stark’s Suite for Two Tenor Trombones and Piano at University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana with trombonist Josh Britton and pianist Yu-Han Kuan.

January 27, 2019: Yutaro Yazawa performed Stark’s Suite No. 2 for Trombone and Piano in his recital at Grusin Music Hall of University of Colorado Boulder.

The Eastern Standard Trio performed Fanfare for Horn, Tuba and Piano, a work they commissioned from Bruce Stark, on February 3 at Nazareth College in New York (world premiere), February 5 at West Chester University, Pennsylvania, February 6 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and February 10 at Hofstra University, New York.

February 16, 2019: Megumi Kanda performed Stark’s Suite No. 2 for Trombone and Piano with pianist Michael Bunchman at the University of Southern Mississippi as part of Trombone Day.

March 23, 2019: Megumi Kanda and Dietrich Hemann (Milwaukee Symphony) and pianist Jeannie Yu performed Stark’s Overture, Adagio and Finale for horn, trombone and piano at Milwaukee Covenant Church.

March 30, 2019: A recital of Bruce Stark’s compositions, arrangements and improvisations was held at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Redmond, Washington. The concert included works for solo piano and violin/cello and piano.

March 30, 2019: Jonathan Warburton gave the world premiere of Stark’s Harbinger, a work for bass trombone and piano that Warburton commissioned, in his recital at Tennessee Tech University.

April 10, 2019: Megumi Kanda performed Suite No. 2 for Trombone and Piano at University of Kentucky.

April 20, 2019: Pianist Anthony De Mare gave the U.S. premiere of Stark’s Urban Nocturnes as part of the BluePrints series of contemporary music in New York City.

May 5, 2019: Cellist Brian Wharton (principal, Auburn Symphony) and pianist Julie Swienty performed Stark’s Romance as part of their recital at Green River College.

June 16, 2019: Megumi Kanda performed Suite No. 2 for Trombone and Piano at Interlochen Arts Academy.

June 20, 2019: Bruce Stark is the Commissioned Composer of the Year for the Washington State Music Teachers Association, and pianist Jeffrey Gilliam performed the world premiere of his Sonata for Piano at the WSMTA 2019 Conference at University of Puget Sound.

Bruce Stark and pianist Jeffrey Gilliam after the world premiere of Sonata for Piano

Bruce Stark and pianist Jeffrey Gilliam after the world premiere of Sonata for Piano

June 20, 2019: Stark gave a lecture-recital about his music as part of the WSMTA 2019 Conference at University of Puget Sound. Guest performers included Julie Swienty (piano), Jared Ballance (cello) and Jeffrey Gilliam (piano).

July 12, 2019: Trombonist Don Lucas and pianist Lori Rhoden performed Stark’s Suite No. 2 for Trombone and Piano, a work Mr. Lucas commissioned, at the MasterWorks Festival in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

July 17, 2019: Don Lucas gave the Mexican premiere of Stark’s Suite No. 2 for Trombone and Piano at the 2019 Mexican National Trombone Festival at Hacienda Ranchero in Oaxaca, Mexico.

September 21, 2019: The Lansing Symphony under Timothy Muffitt included Bruce Stark’s Symphonic Dances at its opening concert of its 90th season at Wharton Center for Performing Arts in Lansing, Michigan.

Bruce Stark and Timothy Muffitt after performance of Symphonic Dances by Lansing Symphony

Bruce Stark and Timothy Muffitt after performance of Symphonic Dances by Lansing Symphony

Bruce Stark is the winner of the 2019-2020 South Texas Brass Symposium Composition Competition, and on November 15, 2019 his Adagio and Allegro will be performed by Karl Kemp (horn), Donald Pinson (trombone) and Shao-Shan Chen (piano) in Wolfe Recital Hall at Del Mar College, Texas.

November 17, 2019:
Pianist Anthony De Mare will perform Bruce Stark’s Urban Nocturnes at the American Pianists Association in Indianapolis as part of his program entitled “The American Innovator”.

February 7, 2020: Anthony Spain will conduct the Northwest Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Stark’s Symphonic Dances in their concert at Highline Performing Arts Center in Burien, Washington.

April 26, 2020: David Hattner will conduct the Portland Youth Philharmonic in the world premiere of Bruce Stark’s Variations for Piano and Strings (2019) with piano soloist Natalie Tan at the Oregon Coast Youth Orchestra Festival in Newport, Oregon.

July 2020: Megumi Kanda will give the world premiere of Bruce Stark’s Sketches of Japan at the International Trombone Festival in Osaka, Japan. Ms. Kanda commissioned the piece for the occasion.

July 8, 2020: Megumi Kanda will include Stark’s Sketches of Japan in her Tokyo recital.

News Highlights 2018

News Highlights 2017



Stark is an artist of the highest caliber
Jim Aiken, Keyboard Magazine

strikes a rare balance between musical literacy and pure emotion
— Linda Kohanov, CD Review

a confident, fresh-voiced composer
Daron Hagen, EAR Magazine

(Adagio and Allegro) …Stark shows his mastery of writing beautiful lyrical lines for the brass, with witty and pianistic interjections…The innate lyricism with which Stark writes, along with his clear presentation of characters in each movement makes this delightful piece a fun and audience-pleasing program staple.
— Heidi Lucas, The Horn Call (2019)

Bruce Stark’s Americana Wind Quintet (2009) is the takeaway discovery on this CD. A jewel, Stark’s quintet is gorgeous, engaging, complexly structured, and intellectually rewarding. Its four movements are as expansive as the American spirit, with lots of nice ensemble writing, delicious coloring, and motivic ideas cleverly linked by threads of repetition and special effect.
— Daniel Kepl, Performance Arts Review (2018)

. . . there is something about it that is unmistakably “American” in sound and spirit that’s hard to describe. Above all, I find it to be an exquisitely beautiful piece and one that has grown on me with repeated hearings and moved me deeply. Listen, for example, to the second movement, “Hymn to the Dawn.” What extraordinarily beautiful music this is . . .
- Jerry Dubins, Fanfare (Jan/Feb 2018)

This is a magnificent and engaging addition to the woodwind quintet literature.
Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare (2018)

The four movements of the American composer Bruce Stark's Americana Wind Quintet abound in poetic and dramatic flights spiced with savoury flavours and rhythmic twists.
— Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone (2017)

Lisa Moore closed her part of the program with Bruce Stark's “Variations on Ode To Joy“(1997), a fantasy on the theme from the finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, couched in jazzy rhythms, rumbling bass figures and a healthy measure of overt virtuosity. It was as if Liszt, while musing on the Beethoven work, were suddenly possessed by the spirit of Art Tatum.
— Allan Kozinn, New York Times

Tuesday's program opened with Bruce Stark's Fugue, a cool, ultra-precise composition whose extended, winding motifs, exchanged from player to player, created music that seemed to move in circular crosscurrents through the Bessie Schonberg Theater.
— Stephen Holden, The New York Times

A grand finale was provided by Bruce Stark, composer of “Variations on Ode To Joy”—and it was in this piece that surprising bits of the joyous melody would emerge amidst the frenetic passages of jazz, syncopation, and all kinds of different rhythms.
— Wendy Brazil, ArtSoundFM 92.7 Radio, Australia

Bruce Stark's music was performed to wonderful effect again in tonight's program. His 5 short pieces further explored how jazz stylings and American folk music influences can be used without merely evoking the achievements of the '50's. The explosive 5th prelude was fascinating in how it simultaneously and without feelings of pastiche evoked both Bartok and Gershwin.

Stark's work has been featured in every concert of the series and for good reason. He has an unusually rare gift in creating a recognizable voice, combining compelling content with forms that make sense and are full of surprises.
— Jeff Harrington, Sequenza21



The first time I heard the music of Bruce Stark, I thought, “What fantastic music!”. Now after repeated performances of his music, my admiration and appreciation for his artistry just continues to grow deeper and deeper.
- Don Lucas, trombonist, teacher

Symphonic Dances is unlike any other work I have known. It is masterful and inspired music. The language is fresh, original, and instantly engaging to the audience . . . Mr. Stark has a unique voice.
- Timothy Muffitt, conductor

Bruce Stark is unquestionably one of the finest composers of his generation.
- Jeffrey Jacob, pianist

Fresh, refined, music that holds both the audience and the musicians captive...I love Bruce's pieces!
- Kaori Fujii, flutist

Rhythms that dance and spring from deep within your body, a myriad of colors and shades, tender, melodic passages…when I play Bruce's music, a world of images seems to rise from the piano, and my love and passion for the piano itself grows.
- Chika Nagisa, pianist

Bruce's works are innovative and exciting additions to the repertoire. They open up new doors for the performer and never fail to delight all who play or hear it!
- Megumi Kanda, trombone

("American Suite") Colorful, delicate, witty, fanciful--a charming and strong work
- Phillip Moll, pianist

It is challenging to describe the range of Bruce's music in words, but here are a few: powerful and dynamic, yet tender and serene; complex yet always tuneful and accessible; funky and jazzy yet classically rigorous; challenging yet eminently pianistic.
- Seann Alderking, pianist

When I commissioned Bruce Stark to write a piece celebrating the turn of the millennium, I was certain of only one thing: that his piece would be full of excitement! What I could not have foreseen was the daring structure of the piece, the extraordinary finesse of his orchestration, and the muscular main theme...
- David Charles Abell, conductor



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