Conversations with Composers

In these conversations, distinguished composers talk about their music, how they compose, and much more. These musicians love what they do and are most eager to share their art with everybody. Let your family and friends know about these conversations, which they can listen to or download anytime. You can also listen to these conversations on our apps.

Ola Gjeilo

From his website: “Ola Gjeilo was born in Norway in 1978 and moved to the United States in 2001 to begin his composition studies at the Juilliard School in New York City, where he currently lives and works as a composer and pianist.” In this podcast, Ola speaks with Rob Kennedy about his solo piano album Night.

Photo: Jessica Griffin

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Adolphus Hailstork

Adolphus Hailstork is one our most distinguished composers and teachers. Professor of Music and Composer in Residence at Old Dominion University in Norlofk, Virginia. Dr. Hailstork earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard University, a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music, and a doctorate in composition from Michigan State University. Rob Kennedy speaks with Dr. Hailstork about his career as a composer and teacher.

Photo: Rosa Grace

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Daniel Gawthrop

From his website: “Daniel Gawthrop has been the recipient of over one hundred commissions to write original music. His published choral and organ works are in the catalogs of Dunstan House, MusicSpoke, Alfred Publishing, Alliance Music and others. His a cappella motet Sing Me to Heaven is among the most frequently performed choral pieces of modern times and has sold more than a half-million copies.”

Photo: Dunstan House

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Tyson Davis

Rob Kennedy speaks with North Carolina composer Tyson Davis who began composing at the age of eight. In 2019 Tyson graduated from the University North Carolina School of the Arts with a concentration in composition. He will continue his studies at The Julliard School in the fall of 2019. Rob Kennedy and Tyson chat about what inspired him to become a composer and his compositional process. You can listen to Tyson’s music on YouTube.

Photo: Tyson Davis/

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Jennifer Higdon

From her website: “Jennifer Higdon is one of America’s most acclaimed and most frequently performed living composers. She is a major figure in contemporary Classical music, receiving the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, a 2010 Grammy for her Percussion Concerto and a 2018 Grammy for her Viola Concerto. Rob Kennedy and Jennifer talk about her Harp Concerto, her opera, Cold Mountain, and much more.

Photo: Jennifer Higdon/J. Henry Fair

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Ilan Eshkeri

Ilan Eshkeri composed the film score for The White Crow which charts famed ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev’s defection from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961, despite KGB efforts to stop him. The score features violin solos by Lisa Batiashvili and Ilan’s own arrangements of ballet compositions by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Alexander Krein and Ludwig Minkus. Rob Kennedy and Ilan Eshkeri discuss his process of composing a film score in the 21st-century. You can listen to the score on Spotify.

Photo: Ilan Eshkeri/

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Gernot Wolfgang

Jonathan Woolf in Musicweb-International writes: “These freewheeling pluralistic compositions cleverly weave the past and the present in a way that reflects well on both. Lineage is a strong component of Wolfgang’s writing, an inheritance that is honoured but flourishes in a new soil, or soils. It’s not a question of abandoning Vienna, more a case of Wolfgang returning to it anew, refreshed and thereby refreshing his own musical vocabulary. With excellent performers on board this is a groove disc that appeals to the heart and to the head.” Rob Kennedy speaks with composer Gernot Wolfgang about his recording Vienna And The West which you can listen to on Spotify.

Photo: Gernot Wolfgang/

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Dan Locklair

North Carolina composer Dan Locklair is Composer-in-Residence and Professor of Music at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While he is perhaps best known for his sacred choral works, he also has composed several large works for orchestra. Rob Kennedy and Professor Locklair discuss the new recording of his Symphony No.2 “America”. You can listen to a recording of it and his Organ Concerto on Spotify.

Photo: Dan Locklair/Rick Gibbons

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Jonathan David Little

As his website notes about the music of Australian-born composer Jonathan David Little “The evocative music of composer/conductor/scholar Jonathan David Little is notable for its mystical beauty, intensity, richness of material, and intricate craftsmanship.” Rob Kennedy and Dr. Little discuss his poly-choral music featured on his CD Woefully Arrayed. You can listen to the recording on Spotify.

Photo: Jonathan David Little/

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Mark Abel

From his website: “Composer Mark Abel has been based in California for the past three decades and is known primarily for his collaborations with Grammy-winning soprano Hila Plitmann. A rock musician as a young man, Abel began developing his classical compositional style during a 20+-year career as a newspaper editor in San Francisco. His music began to circulate more widely after he became affiliated in 2012 with the Delos label, which has released five Abel albums including The Cave of Wondrous Voice – the composer’s first foray into instrumental chamber music.” In this podcast, Rob Kennedy chats with Mark about his life and work as a composer.

Photo: Erik Doria

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Barbara Harbach

From her website: “Dr. Barbara Harbach, Curators’ Distinguished Professor Emerita of Music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, has a large catalog of works, including; symphonies, operas, string orchestra, musicals, works for chamber ensembles, film scores, modern ballet, pieces for organ, harpsichord and piano; choral anthems; and many arrangements for brass and organ of various Baroque works. She is also involved in the research, editing, publication and recording of manuscripts of eighteenth-century keyboard composers, as well as historical and contemporary women composers.” Rob Kennedy speaks with Dr. Harbach about her life and work as an organist, teacher, and composer.


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