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The East Texan

Dr. David Davies

Sara Wray, Staff Writer

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Dr. David Davies of the music department at Texas A&M University-Commerce is not only an educator, but also an internationally-performed composer, an organist and conductor.

Davies, who studied composition, conducting, and piano at the Greatbatch School of Music, Houghton College, and earned his doctorate of musical arts in composition at the Frost School of Music (University of Miami), joined A&M-Commerce in 2014 and is now assistant professor of music theory and head of theory studies.

“I think at a certain point, probably when I was in high school, I just realized that [music] was the only thing that I really was passionate about,” Davies said. “I know a lot of other musicians that feel the same way, where it’s not so much the act of choosing music as a career, but more of the realization that you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else.”

Davies’ music has been performed across the globe in venues like the Great Hall at Cooper Union in New York City, the Culturo Jorge Borges in Buenos Aires, and the Conservatorio de Musica de Puerto Rico in San Juan. Davies said that the one that stands out for him the most, however, was having his piece Cantate Domino premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2014.

“That was definitely a major highlight of my career, being there for that,” Davies said of the Carnegie Hall premiere. “It was for choir and orchestra, so it was a big piece. I got to go up on stage and everything afterwards and that was cool.”

In November, Davies premiered another piece for the New Works Symposium. The piece, By Night While Others Soundly Slept, is based on the text of American poet Anne Bradstreet, where it reads as a mid-night prayer for her sleeping family. The symposium, Portraits of Women in Contemporary Soprano Duet, was created to encourage composers to choose themes that deal with issues and related to the experience of women in America.

Davies began taking piano lessons around seven or eight years old. He didn’t want to practice at the time, so he quit and didn’t start taking lessons again until he turned 13 or 14. Before taking lessons again, he had been playing by ear. He also played the trumpet, French horn, and sang.

“I was still involved, and I was still doing music, but I didn’t start aggressively practicing and getting lessons and training until I was in middle school,” Davies said.

Davies teaches all four levels of music theory, ear training, orchestration, and counterpoint. However, Davies’ favorite subject to teach is contemporary music theory, or “post-tonal music theory,” which focuses on music written mostly in the twentieth century and after.

“It tends to be more unconventional music,” Davies said. “I like it because a lot of students come at that music with a certain level of hostility because it’s unfamiliar. A lot of it is challenging and not particularly pleasant to listen to. What I enjoy doing about that class is giving students the tools to not necessarily enjoy that music, because you can’t make anyone enjoy anything, but to understand it. More than any other class, that’s where I have students who find they like things that they didn’t realized they liked, and I like that.”

Davies has accomplished a lot in his career but he still looks for new challenges.

“I would love to have a major work, like a large symphony or an oratorio or something like that, performed professionally, like by a major orchestra or something,” Davies said. “I think it would be cool to have something like that done.”

Davies and his wife serve as the directors of Worship Arts at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Plano. He is an active member of the Society of Composers, Inc., the College Music Society, and the Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers. In 2014, he became vice president of the Board for the Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers.

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Dr. David Davies