American composer and bassoonist Luke Blackburn (b. 1992) has been described as "a composer of finely worked and intricate sonorities that add up to simple and very expressive musical arguments," whose music is "delicious" (David Rakowski) and "very engaging with a strong sense of lyricism, a reflection of his musical sensibility and strong musicianship" (Yu-Hui Chang).
As a composer, Blackburn’s work brings elements of the natural world into the concert space and takes concert music to the great outdoors and other non-traditional venues. Musically, Blackburn develops a story based on his own research, observations, and experiences with the natural world, often representing his many memories growing up in the swamps of Ocala, Florida. Inspired
by the flora and fauna of our vast planet, he is currently developing a documentary-style composition series he calls Menagerie of Spectacular Creatures. Each multimovement suite within the collection considers “an afternoon in the life of,” studying various creatures or plants associated with the environment where the concert is to be premiered, in order to promote awareness of endangered species, preserving our ecosystems, or to simply introduce the audience to the natural world in which we reside.
Beyond his own music, Blackburn advocates for nature conservation as an artistic practice. Founded by Blackburn in 2019, Project EcoMusic is a collaborative that partners with arts organizations to demonstrate how they can impact the natural world through interdisciplinary collaboration and the adoption of innovative artistic business models. Project EcoMusic was developed to assist in paving the way towards immersive educational and artistic experiences, with a focus on developing a supportive and sustainable environmental platform.
Blackburn’s music has been performed by Ensemble Dal Niente, the Guerilla Opera Company, Ludovico Ensemble, Corvus Ensemble, Lydian String Quartet, University of Florida Wind Symphony, and many other solo and chamber ensembles throughout the country. He is currently composing new works for the New Philharmonia Orchestra, Hub New Music, and Ensemble Vim.
During the 2020–21 season, Blackburn has been appointed as a Composition Fellow with Ensemble Vim (Atlanta) and Assistant Co-Director of Dinosaur Annex (Boston). In 2019, he completed an artist residency with Composing in the Wilderness (Whittier, AK), and was scheduled to attend the Brevard Summer Music Institute as a composer and teaching fellow in 2020 (canceled due to COVID-19). He has previously served as director of New Music Brandeis and was the president of the Society of Composers: University of Florida Chapter. Blackburn has been honored with several awards, including Brandeis University's Connected Ph.D. Grant, the A. Didier Graeffe Composition Scholarship, and the Most Outstanding Student at the University of Florida’s College of the Arts, as well as nominations from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and an honorable mention from the Lyra Society’s Costello Composition Competition for his harp writing.
Blackburn is a passionate educator and advocate for contemporary composers and musicians. As a teaching assistant and fellow within Brandeis University’s Department of Music, he has taught a variety of subjects, from composition to music fundamentals, engaging students with and without backgrounds in music. In 2020, Blackburn was awarded Brandeis University’s Outstanding Student Teacher Award. He has additionally served as Composition Mentor for Brandeis’s Undergraduate Composition Collective and has taught bassoon for Great Southern Music’s instrumental program.
Blackburn is pursuing a Ph.D. in Music Composition and Theory at Brandeis University studying with Yu-Hui Chang, Erin Gee, and Eric Chasalow, where he also completed his M.F.A. in Music Composition and Theory with David Rakowski. He holds two B.M. degrees in Music Composition and Bassoon Performance from the University of Florida, studying with Paul Richards, James Paul Sain, and Paul Koonce (composition), as well as Shannon Lowe and Anthony Anurca (bassoon).
Current as of 06/11/2020