David Vayo (b. 1957) is the Fern Rosetta Sherff Professor of Composition and Theory at Illinois Wesleyan University, where he also serves as Coordinator of New Music Activities and teaches composition, improvisation and contemporary music. He has also taught at Connecticut College and the National University of Costa Rica. Vayo holds an A.Mus.D. in Composition from The University of Michigan, where his principal teachers were Leslie Bassett and William Bolcom; his M. Mus. and B. Mus. degrees are from Indiana University, where he studied with Frederick Fox and Juan Orrego-Salas.
Vayo has received awards and commissions from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, ASCAP, the Koussevitzky Music Foundations, the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the American Music Center, the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors, and the Illinois Council for the Arts, and has been granted numerous artists’ colony residencies. Over 450 performances and broadcasts of his compositions have taken place, including recent performances in Mexico, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Spain and at the universities of Wisconsin, Iowa and Utah. Festivals which have programmed his work include two International Trumpet Guild festivals, the International Trombone Festival, the International Double Reed Festival, the Grand Teton Music Festival, and three World Music Days of the International Society for Contemporary Music. Vayo’s compositions are published by Honeyrock, Bèrben/Italia Guitar Society Series, and the International Trombone Association Press. Vayo is also active as a keyboardist performing contemporary music, jazz and free improvisations.
Among the distinctive features of Vayo’s catalog are nine pieces for traditional Chinese and Japanese instruments, six “musical poetry readings,” three pieces for live synthesizer, and six for instruments with electronic sound or enhancement. Vayo’s fascination with unusual instruments has led to compositions for extended-range glockenspiel; contrabassoon and three double basses; bass viola da gamba; five-string electric cello; and ships’ horns. Vayo’s theatrical works include the opera Fertile Ground; the performance piece Eight Poems of William Carlos Williams for trombonist; and Chambers, a unique musical ritual in which the audience plays integral roles as sound-makers and active listeners. Jazz, a strong element of Vayo’s musical identity, appears in both subtle and straightforward ways in many of his compositions, and explicitly in such pieces as Entelechy for fusion-jazz quartet, Reach for big band, Signals for woodwinds, brass, piano and bass, and the piano pieces We Will and Jazz Jig for Jim.
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