Dr. J.A. Kawarsky is Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, NJ. Dr. Kawarsky received his B.M. in composition from Iowa State University and his M.M. and D.M.A. from Northwestern University. At Northwestern he studied with John Paynter, Alan Stout and Frederick Ockwell. In 1982, Dr. Kawarsky conducted the Opera Company of the Negev Region in Be’er Sheva, Israel. Before coming to Westminster in 1989, he taught at Fort Hays State University, the University of Wisconsin, and Moraine Valley Community College.
A well-known coach and director/conductor in the theater world, Dr. Kawarsky conducted the 2007 national tour of Peter Pan and prepared the music for the 2nd national tour of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He recently music directed at the famous Stagedoor Manor in New York as well as for the Franklin Theatre Works of Clinton, NJ. In autumn 2009, he directed and conducted the critically acclaimed “punk” production of Sweeney Todd at City Theater of Wilmington, DE, as well as for numerous other productions.
He was the founding conductor of the New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus (Delaware Valley Men’s Chorus), and has also served as conductor of the Lehigh Valley Gay Men’s Chorus, Voices Chorale and was chosen to conduct Sing for the Cure for the Komen Foundation National Conference in 2002, and transcribe a new/reduced orchestration of the work.
As a composer, he has written for all genres including solo instrument, orchestra, band, choral, vocal and theater. His 40 minute composition "Prayers for Bobby" for choir, orchestra, narrator and soloists, has received numerous performances throughout the United States and Canada and was recorded by the New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus and members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC. Dr. Kawarsky has been commissioned by numerous ensembles for original works and arrangements. In October of 2006, he was awarded the Outstanding Alumnus award from Iowa State University and was presented with a premiere of a new work for orchestral winds and alto saxophone solo, "Fastidious Notes." In 2009, 17 universities throughout the United States commissioned him to compose a new symphonic band work. The resulting composition, "Red Training Reels," was premiered in the September 2010. He is currently working with lyricist/librettist Fran Gordon Immerman on a major cantata "Sacred Rights, Sacred Song," for choir, narrator and chorus to be performed in Atlanta and Jerusalem this spring. His newest orchestral work "And We All Waited…" will be premiered by the Wichita State University Orchestra this spring. He is also working on new choral octavos with new arrangements of works by Max Helfman. His music is published by Yelton Rhodes Music, Transcontinental Music, and Southern Music.
Red Training Reels for Wind Ensemble; Sacred Rights, Sacred Song, a cantata for chorus, narrator and orchestra; Prayers for Bobby for choir, orchestra, narrator and soloists; Fastidious Notes, for alto saxophone and wind ensemble; Episodes, for piano and orchestra.
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