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David Smooke

Baltimore, MD      

Composer David Smooke (b. 1969) currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland, where he teaches music theory, rock music history, and composition, and is the Chair of the Music Theory Department at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. The Washington Post claims that "Smooke has some of the most uninhibited brain cells around" and describes his music as "superb […] a kaleidoscopic sonic universe where anything could happen"; the Baltimore Sun adds that it is “a highly creative, absorbing experience.” His honors include those from the Maryland State Arts Council, BMI, the National Association of Composers USA, the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Ragdale Foundation. He has composed commissions for groups and individuals including the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), CUBE, Rhymes With Opera, the Great Noise Ensemble, and Volti Choir. He received an M.M. degree from the Peabody Conservatory, a B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where he received the Century Fellowship, the highest fellowship offered by the Humanities Division. His composition teachers have included Shulamit Ran, David Rakowski, Robert Hall Lewis, and Richard Wernick. In addition to his composition activities, David performs improvisations on toy piano with the support of Schoenhut toy pianos.

Articles by David Smooke:

Articles December 18 2012 | By David Smooke
Performers and Composers

Many performers want to advocate for the music of their time, work that allows music to live beyond the premiere and to grow through multiple interpretations. Most composers want to...

Articles December 11 2012 | By David Smooke
Music As Performance Art (Part 2 of 2)

As a composer, one of my goals is to follow the lead of generations of rock stars towards considering musical performance as an inherently theatrical art form.

Articles December 4 2012 | By David Smooke
Music As Performance Art (Part 1 of 2)

Musical performance is an inherently theatrical experience. Like all performance art, its paradigms evolved from the religious ritual and community meetings that were conducted publicly on the edge of towns...

Articles November 27 2012 | By David Smooke
The Role of Analysis

Yesterday, a colleague posed the following question to a group of composers: “How important do you feel analysis of your work is for its performance?” As someone who has given...

Articles November 13 2012 | By David Smooke
What Else Would I Do?

Composers rarely retire. When we are fortunate enough to live into a ripe dotage, we generally continue to write for as long as our strength allows.

Articles November 6 2012 | By David Smooke
Naked

Recently, I’ve been trying to strip all the tricks out of my music. I’ve been attempting to lay bare the essence of my musical expression, to write exactly the sounds...

Articles October 23 2012 | By David Smooke
Time to Listen

My current problem is that my musical explorations haven’t kept pace with the changes in my personal taste, nor with the wealth of interesting music that contemporary composers continue to...

Articles October 16 2012 | By David Smooke
The Piece I Didn’t Write

Once I finish any new piece, I find myself envying any other work that I hear for that ensemble. In my mind, all the other compositions sound better, fresher, and...

Articles October 9 2012 | By David Smooke
Big Ideas

I’ve come to believe that this ability to conceive and execute big ideas constitutes the trait that separates those people who create life-changing art from the rest of us.