PULLMAN — The WSU School of Music will celebrate the 20th annual Festival of Contemporary Art Music (FoCAM) Feb. 5-7 by honoring founding festival director and music professor Charles Argersinger as the 2009 guest composer.
 
The festival capstone concert of original works by Argersinger will be performed by faculty and students from the WSU School of Music and faculty from the University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton School of Music at 8 p.m. Feb. 7 in Bryan Hall Theatre. All festival concerts are free and open to the public.
 
Gerald Berthiaume, WSU School of Music director, said, “Dr. Charles Argersinger, in addition to directing the festival from its inception, has won many awards and been recognized nationally and internationally for his achievements in composition. … WSU is proud to honor one of their own as this year’s featured composer for this festival.”
 
Argersinger has devoted his career to writing music that transcends the notes on the page to resonate with the listener on many levels—emotionally, intellectually and intuitively—drawing on symbols from music’s past and present, entwining them with more abstract, universal gestures of musical experience.
 
Among his awards, Argersinger earned first prize for a brass fanfare composed for the United Nations’ 50th anniversary and won the MACRO International Composition Competition for 2002–2003.
 
His “Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orchestra,” which premiered in 1992, was recorded by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago and has been performed by major orchestras across the country.
 
Most recently, the prime minister of Thailand commissioned Argersinger to write “Seven Degrees of Freedom,” a nonet — a composition which requires nine musicians– for woodwind quintet plus string quartet, for the All-Nations Ensemble of Southeast Asia. The premiere took place in Bangkok in the fall of 2003.
 
The festival begins Feb. 5 with a recital of new student compositions at 11:10 a.m. in Kimbrough Concert Hall. The Faculty Composers’ Concert follows at 8 p.m. on Feb. 5 in Bryan Hall Theatre, featuring new works by Ryan Hare, H. James Schoepflin, Aleks Sternfeld-Dunn and Gregory Yasinitsky. An electroacoustic concert will be performed at 3 p.m. on Feb. 6 in Kimbrough Concert Hall.
 
WSU’s 2009 FoCAM will also include a campus visit by Dennis Alexander, one of North America’s most prolific and popular composers of educational piano music for students of all ages. Piano Pedagogy Lab School students will perform a recital of his work at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 6 in Kimbrough Concert Hall.
 
For two decades FoCAM has showcased contemporary classical music, presenting concerts of new original compositions by students, faculty and the visiting artist. In 1989 the inaugural festival featured guest composer Michael Schelle, and over the years the festival has included such notables as William Kraft, Libby Larson, Morten Lauridsen, John Corigliano and most recently Eric Whitacre.
 
Festival of Contemporary Art Music: http://libarts.wsu.edu/artmusic