Native Floridian Henry Wolking (1948) is a composer, trombonist, conductor, teacher, and author. He completed his Bachelor Degree in music education from the University of Florida, and Master of Music in Composition at the University of North Texas in 1971. At the age of 24, he began his teaching career as head of the jazz area at the University of Utah. He retired in 2011 and is a University Professor Emeritus Of Music. He is the recipient of the 2018 School of Music Camerata Award, which celebrates the contributions of musicians and patrons of the arts to the University of Utah and broader community. He maintains a busy schedule of writing and arranging for classical and jazz groups. There are currently over 75 of his jazz works in the Walrus/EJazzlines online catalog.
He won second prize in the International Trombone Composition Contest in 1973, the beginning of his successful, consistently productive career as a serious composer. Among his numerous published jazz compositions for big band, several were performed and recorded by the North Texas One O’Clock Jazz Band. His Woodwind Quintet No.1 was recorded by the Clarion Wind Quintet in 1976 for broadcast on National Public Radio and Voice of America and is available on Crystal Records. In the early 1980s, Wolking received premieres of many orchestral works, including his Symphony No. 1, Lydian Horizon, by the Utah Symphony (premiered in 1982), a work which achieved semifinalist status in the Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards. His Horn Concerto was recorded and broadcast by the New Zealand Symphony in 1985; some of the orchestras performing and recording his works since that time include the London, Utah, New Mexico, Baltimore, Phoenix, Colorado Springs, Nashville, Fairbanks, North Carolina, and Cincinnati Symphonies; the Louisville Orchestra and the BBC Jazz Orchestra; and the Boise and Warsaw Philharmonic.
His Chamber Concerto for Horn, Violin and Bassoon won first place in the 1987 International Horn Composition Contest; his second symphony, Saturnian Verses, was a finalist in the 1991 ASCAP Nissim Awards. In 1992, his ballet score, entitled Forever Yesterday, was broadcast on National Public Radio’s Performance Today. The Modern Art Sextet in Berlin, Germany, performed House of Sky, released on CRS, in 1989.
His most recent recording, IN SEA, is a jazz big band album that was released on Big Round Records in 2016. A classical album, CROSS CONNECTION, was also recently released on Navona Records. It has received glowing reviews and features Gone Playin for clarinet and string orchestra, and his string quartet, The Old Gypsy.
Wolking enjoys bringing complex, sometimes seemingly disparate mixes of compositional elements to music that becomes easily approachable for listeners who appreciate its sincere, fresh cosmopolitan character. The gifts of polyrhythms, melodic chorales, and unmistakable grooving inflections of jazz are treated with the same deep sense of artistic integrity and respect as are fanfare motifs, classic musical forms such as waltzes and tangos, the folk sounds of Central and Eastern Europe, and Afro-Cuban rhythms that infuse his various works. He also composed the theme music for the International Sports Broadcasting in connection with the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City UT. He currently has over 100 works published by over a half dozen or so major publishers including his own company, Wolking Music Publications. After 39 years serving as the Director of Jazz Studies he recently retired, as a University of Utah Professor Emeritus, to devote himself to full time writing and hiking.