Dr. J.A. Kawarsky (b. 1959) is Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton in 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 in 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 has been a music director at Stagedoor Manor, French Woods, Harand Camp for the Arts, Long Lake Camp of the Arts in New York, as well as for the Franklin Theatre Works of Clinton in NJ.
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. Recently, he received his 13th Composer Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). 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, 2006 he was awarded the Outstanding Alumnus award from Iowa State University, and their Wind Ensemble premiered his new work Fastidious Notes, for alto saxophone and winds (a precursor to the piece on this album). 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 September 2010. From 2010-2014, Dr. Kawarsky collaborated with lyricist/librettist Francine M. Gordon on the cantata Sacred Rights, Sacred Song, for choir, narrator and chorus and which has been performed throughout the USA and Israel. In 2016 he composed the 5 Step Program for the Encore Vocal Arts of Indianapolis. Recently the Moravian Philharmonic recorded his symphonic work And We All Waited…. His composition for piano and orchestra Episodes was recorded by PARMA with Peter Laul, piano and the The St. Petersburg State Philharmonic conducted by Vladimir Lande. Most recently, PARMA recorded his Grace Dances for string quartet and oboe in Havana Cuba, and his Fastidious Notes for alto saxophone and Chamber Orchestra in Chicago. For this recording, he arranged and orchestrated a new accompaniment to the Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes, op. 52 recorded in Spring 2018 by the University of Arizona and members of the Tucson Symphony. His music is published by Yelton Rhodes Music, Transcontinental Music, Southern Music, Phoenix Music, and G.I.A. Music.