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Alvin Singleton

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Composer Alvin Singleton enjoyed several residencies in the United States during the 1980s, following a sojourn of a decade abroad. From the middle of the decade through 1988 he was composer in residence with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, subsequently shifting to a position as resident composer at Spelman College from 1988 to 1991. Such stellar academic or so-called "serious music" credentials shine brightly looking both forward and backward from the latter period in Singleton's career, yet he has also established an interesting underground presence due to his interest in improvisation. In 2002 New York City's Tzadik label released a Singleton volume in the label's "composer's series." The program of four compositions includes a duet for piano and trumpet featuring Anthony Davis and Wadada Leo Smith respectively. These stalwarts of the American avant-garde jazz scene can be linked geographically to Singleton during periods when Davis and Singleton were studying at Yale and Smith was living in nearby West Haven. Aesthetically they can be linked to a passionate commitment to combine aspects of both composition and improvisation, of both classical music and jazz so to speak, in a world too keen to segregate just about everything from people to eighth notes. Singleton also studied at New York University; a Fulbright fellowship gave him the means to go abroad, where he continued studies at Rome's Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. He eventually was awarded prizes in Germany and Austria. Back home, Singleton's efforts have been awarded by an arts award from the city of Atlanta and both NEA and Guggenheim grants. He composes theater music, orchestra pieces, chamber music and solos for instrumentalists such as five-string violist Martha Mooke. Performances of Singleton compositions have been programmed by the Kronos Quartet, the Nash Ensemble, the Asko Ensemble, Ensemble des 20, the London Sinfonietta and many American orchestras. Further composer in residence postings include the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for two years beginning in 1996 and Jacksonville, FL's Ritz Chamber Players five years later. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

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