The first verse of America the Beautiful reflects on the timeless natural beauty of America, while the second and third verses turn to the past, praising the sacrifices of departed heroes. I found musical inspiration in the final verse, which extends into the future – the symbolic “alabaster cities” “undimmed by human tears,” suggest that hardship and sacrifice will continue to be necessary for pursuit of an ideal nation. This bittersweet optimism is what I tried to capture in my variation.
Theo Chandler is a Houston-based composer, currently pursuing his DMA at Rice University, studying with Pierre Jalbert. His work finds inspiration in the nuances of instrumental idiom, as well as the conversational relationships between members of an ensemble.
Chandler is the recipient of the SCI/ASCAP Graduate Commission, the American Prize for Vocal Chamber Music, the Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Award, the Charles Ives Scholarship from the Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Graduate Music Award from the Presser Foundation. He has received commissions from the New York Youth Symphony First Music Program, Tanglewood Music Center, Fischer Duo, Utah Arts Festival, and others. He has been a fellow at the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, Mizzou International Composers Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, Copland House Cultivate, and Aspen Music Festival. Residencies include Copland House Residency Award, Composer in Residence for Les Délices, Composer in Residence for the Maryland Wind Festival, Young Artist Composer for Da Camera, Emerging Composer Fellow for Musiqa, Young Composer in Residence for the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, and an I-Park Collaborative Residency with Akropolis Reed Quintet.
Chandler received degrees at The Juilliard School (MM) and Oberlin Conservatory (BM). He has studied with Shih-Hui Chen, Karim Al-Zand, Anthony Brandt, Melinda Wagner, Samuel Adler, Steven Stucky, Lewis Nielson, and Dan Tacke.
As the artistic director of Center for Musical Excellence, I am always on the look out for new and undiscovered talents. They come to me, sometimes, by my colleagues’ recommendations and other times through young artists’ own research about our organization. Tyson Davis and Andrew Bambridge are currently on our roster of CME Young Artists, whom we mentor. Patricio Molina is a CME alumnus. Theo Chandler, Ji-Young Ko, and Daniel Newman-Lessler applied for our Grant program, and I got to know their work through that process. I decide on young artists when I notice a deep passion and drive within them, plus a certain kind of sparkle in the personality and lots of humility. In addition to musical talents, I believe these are the qualities that will take the young artists far. CME’s motto is "Moving Musicians Forward". I’ve chosen our Discovery Composers based on these qualities, whom we felt we could easily move forward.
- Min Kwon