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

Here you’ll find news, videos, recordings, and Belle-Kane Publications online store for purchasing scores.

 
 
 
 
 
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BIO

photo by Audrey Guidi

photo by Audrey Guidi

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 began formal studies in composition at California State University, Northridge studying with Aurelio de la Vega and Daniel Kessner, twice winning the school's composition prize, and went on to complete a masters degree in composition at the Juilliard School as a student of Roger Sessions and Vincent Persichetti. Thereafter for more than 20 years Stark resided in Tokyo, producing a collection of works that reveal a unique and compelling musical voice, drawing from a multiplicity of disciplines and sensibilities. In 2013 he returned to the U.S. and joined the faculty of DigiPen Institute of Technology (Seattle area) as professor of composition and music theory.

Recent commissions include Three Dances for flute, violin and piano from Friends of Today's Music, Suite for Horn, Trombone and Piano for Megumi Kanda (Milwaukee Symphony), Urban Nocturnes for German pianist Kai Schumacher and Suite for Two Tenor Trombones and Piano for Don Lucas. He was recently chosen to be the 2019 Commissioned Composer of the Year by the Washington State Music Teachers' Association.

From piano and chamber works to choral and orchestral pieces, Bruce Stark’s music has been performed on the concert stages of four continents, recorded on numerous CDs and broadcast on radio programs worldwide. Awards include First Prize in the Composers Guild Contest, Second Prize in the Barlow International Competition, ASCAP composer awards and others. His compositions have been featured in the National Flute Association Convention, American Piano Festival, International Trombone Festival, Canberra International Chamber Music Festival, and Keys To The Future piano music series in New York City. Other performances have included the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra under Timothy Muffitt, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra under David Charles Abell, Rapides Symphony under Joshua Zona, Jakarta Symphony under Rebecca Tong, Westwood Wind Quintet, flutist Paula Robison and numerous pianists. Recordings of his works have been released by Victor Entertainment (Japan), Hanssler Classic (Germany), Centaur Records (US), Red Kite Records (Seann Alderking's performances of his piano works), and separate pieces are included in releases by vocal group Ars Nova, Tokyo Clarinet Ensemble and many others.

 

WORKS

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NEWS

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Bruce Stark was chosen as the 2019 Commissioned Composer of the Year by the Washington State Music Teachers Association. Stark has been commissioned to compose a new work that will be premiered at the WSMTA Conference in the summer of 2019.

News Highlights 2018

News Highlights 2017 

REVIEWS

photo by Audrey Guidi

photo by Audrey Guidi

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

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.
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Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare (2018)

This well-crafted composition should be a staple in the woodwind quintet repertoire.
Flute Talk (Nov 2017)

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 “Ode To '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 an Ode To '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

Bruce Stark

TESTIMONIALS

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. His music is exquisitely sensitive, carefully crafted, hauntingly beautiful.
- 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 (Milwaukee Symphony)

("American Suite") Colorful, delicate, witty, fanciful--a charming and strong work
- Phillip Moll (accompanist for James Galway)

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, always fitting well under the fingers. It's also a heck of a lot of fun to play--and audiences adore it.
- 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 that could almost provide the soundtrack to an adventure film. Bruce Stark's 'Overture to New Beginnings' takes the listener on an exhilarating journey—albeit a six-minute one—and I hope to have the opportunity to commission many more, and longer, journeys from Bruce in the future.
- David Charles Abell, conductor

 

CONTACT

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