DAN WELCHER (b 1948 )
Critic Royal S Brown, writing in High Fidelity magazine in 1974, called Dan Welcher “one of the most promising American composers I have heard.” Welcher has been steadily fulfilling that promise ever since. With nearly one hundred works to his credit, more than half of which are published, Welcher has written in virtually every medium, including opera, concerto, symphony, wind ensemble, vocal literature, piano solos, and various kinds of chamber music. Also a highly respected conductor, Welcher has made guest appearances with a number of leading professional orchestras and ensembles in the United States, and was for ten years Assistant Conductor of the Austin Symphony Orchestra. From 1975 to 1990, he was a member of the artist faculty at the Aspen Music Festival. Dan Welcher has won numerous awards and prizes from institutions such as the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, The Reader’s Digest/Lila Wallace foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Meet The Composer, the MacDowell Colony, The Corporation at Yaddo, The Atlantic Center for the Arts, the American Music Center, and ASCAP. From 1990 to 1993, he was Composer-in-Residence with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra (Donald Johanos, Music Director). His orchestral music has been performed by more than fifty orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, the St Louis Symphony, and the Dallas Symphony. His recent large works include commissions from the Utah Symphony, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and two consortia of wind ensembles from prominent music schools. His largest concert work is JFK: The Voice of Peace, an hour-long oratorio for narrator, solo cello, chorus and orchestra, premiered by the Handel & Haydn Society Orchestra and Chorus, with cellist Paul Tobias and narrator David McCullough, in March 1999. In 2002, his opera Della’s Gift was presented by the New York City Opera. Its sequel Holy Night was given a première production in April of 2005 by the Ernest and Sarah Butler Opera Theater in Austin. Among Welcher’s recent works were his Third String Quartet [Naxos 8.559384](written for the Cassatt Quartet and premièred in Chicago in March of 2008, an overture for the Las Vegas Philharmonic called Jackpot (to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Las Vegas), and his fourth symphony, American Visionary. His Symphony No. 5, commissioned for the Austin Symphony Orchestra to inaugurate its new concert hall, was premièred on May 1st and 2nd of 2009.
Dan Welcher’s works for wind ensemble have opened an entirely new avenue of expression for him: since 1994 he has written six new works for that medium, which have won him an Ostwald Prize and made him one of the most-performed composers for wind ensemble in the United States. There are more than fifteen commercial recordings of his music on various labels, and his music is published by Theodore Presser Company. A much sought-after speaker who is known for making contemporary music intelligible to lay listeners, Welcher hosts a weekly radio program called Knowing The Score on KMFA-FM in Austin. This program won the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for Excellence in Classical Broadcasting. Dan Welcher holds the Lee Hage Jamail Regents Professorship in Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin.