Daniel Asia has maintained a stylistic middle ground from his earliest works in the mid-'70s. Although he has held university faculty positions since his late twenties, the academic label does not stick to him. Asia has never made a conscious effort to be hip by the standards on either side of academe's ivy-clad wall.
Born in Seattle in 1953, Asia attended the Yale School of Music, studying composition and conducting with Jacob Druckman,Read more Krzysztof Penderecki, and Arthur Weisberg. After receiving his master of music degree in 1977, Asia became the founder, co-music director (with composer Robert Beaser), and conductor of the New York contemporary chamber ensemble Musical Elements. In 1981, he joined the faculty of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he remained until 1986. Following two years as visiting lecturer at London's City University, Asia assumed a long-term position as associate professor of composition and head of the composition department at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
As a working composer, Asia received a number of highly competitive grants and fellowships and high-visibility commissions. A selective list of the latter includes the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; Phoenix Symphony/Meet the Composer, Inc.; the American Composers Orchestra, both alone and in conjunction with the Seattle Symphony; a consortium commission from half a dozen American orchestras; the Koussevitzky Music Foundation for the chamber ensemble Domus; the Fromm Music Foundation; and bass baritone John Shirley-Quirk and oboist Sara Watkins. Asia has to his credit a United Kingdom Fulbright Arts Award fellowship, a Guggenheim fellowship, several N.E.A. composer's grants, fellowships at the McDowell Colony and Tanglewood (where he studied with Gunther Schuller), and ASCAP and BMI prizes. Under the auspices of the Meet the Composer Orchestra Residencies Program, Asia served as the Phoenix Symphony's composer-in-residence from 1991 to 1994.
His style gradually changed, significantly over the course of some 50 works, many of them large-scale. In the 1970s, his works were a synthesis of American popular music and jazz with the structures and procedures of avant-garde art music. By the 1990s, his inspiration came more from American composers such as Copland, Bernstein, and Stephen Albert. However, throughout, Asia has maintained his own voice. Read less