St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf to award honorary degree to composer David Maslanka

MaslankaDavid300x400St. Olaf College will award an honorary degree to David Maslanka, an American composer best known for his highly acclaimed wind ensemble compositions, on February 12.

The honorary degree convocation, which will begin at 10:10 a.m. in Boe Memorial Chapel, will be streamed and archived online.

The St. Olaf Band has performed and recorded many of Maslanka’s pieces, including Give Us This Day and A Child’s Garden of Dreams, as well as having performed consortium premieres of Maslanka’s Symphony No. 5, 7, 8 & 9.

Most recently, the St. Olaf Band commissioned Maslanka to compose a piece for its 125th anniversary tour. The band performed the world premiere of that piece, Angel of Mercy, at the January 23 concert that kicked off the anniversary tour. The commission was supported by the Miles Johnson Endowment.

A graduate of the Oberlin College Conservatory, Maslanka spent a year studying at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, before earning master’s and doctoral degrees in composition from Michigan State University.

Maslanka has served on the faculties of the State University of New York at Geneseo, Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, and Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York, and since 1990 has been a freelance composer.

Among his more than 130 works are 48 pieces for wind ensemble, including seven symphonies, 15 concertos, a Mass, and many concert pieces. His chamber music includes four wind quintets, five saxophone quartets, and many works for solo instrument and piano. In addition, he has written a variety of orchestral and choral pieces.

Maslanka has received three National Endowment for the Arts Composer Awards, five resident fellowships from MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and the National Symphony Orchestra regional composer-in-residence award. He is also a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).

“Vibration is the core of everything, and musical vibration is the element that allows for transformation at the entry level of our being — spiritual, emotional, physical,” Maslanka noted in an interview posted on his website. “My music has been an important focusing element for many, many people, especially young people, as they move through transformation points in their lives.”