RICHARD FESTINGER (b 1948 )
Richard Festinger’s personal and artistic roots are in Northern California. He grew up in Palo Alto and studied composition at UC Berkeley with Andrew Imbrie, joining an important Bay Area musical lineage. The fine detail and expressive clarity found in his teacher’s music are echoed in Festinger’s own, very different body of work.
Festinger also has roots in jazz. After a sojourn to Boston’s Berklee College of Music, he returned to the Bay Area to work as a jazz guitarist and bandleader before turning to composition full time. His concert works do not often contain overt reference to jazz, but they share some key characteristics—propulsive motion, harmonic richness and complex interplay in which each ensemble member adds a distinct and vital contribution.
For three decades, Festinger has played an important rôle in the Bay Area’s musical community. He founded the San Francisco contemporary music group Earplay in 1984 and has been Professor of Music Composition at San Francisco State University since 1990, while composing prolifically for the area’s circle of contemporary music ensembles and many other musicians.
Festinger’s music has been heard nationally in venues such as Tanglewood and Merkin Concert Hall, and at festivals in North America and Europe. Commissions and awards have come from the Koussevitzky Foundation, American Academy of Arts and Letters, and many others.