Alan Theisen (b. 4 October 1981; Port Huron, Michigan) is a Ph.D. graduate assistant in the Department of Music Theory at the Florida State University.

Composing since the age of sixteen, he has produced a steadily growing body of work distinguished by its musical energy and concentration of expression.

Representative works by Theisen include a Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, Variations on a Theme of Gretchaninov, Eclogue for flute, and the Concerto for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra (premiered by soloist Lawrence Gwozdz and the Szczecin Philharmonic in 2004). Recent compositions and commissions include Ritorno for flute and cello and a Triple Concerto. Noted composer Dimitri Terzakis commends Theisen's oeuvre as being "the product of a unique talent."

As a saxophonist, Theisen has toured the United States and Canada with the Sax-Chamber Orchestra, performing at two World Saxophone Congresses (Montreal - 2000, Minneapolis - 2003). He studied the instrument with internationally-recognized performer Lawrence Gwozdz and participated in masterclasses with famed saxophone pioneer Jean-Marie Londeix. No stranger to the podium, Theisen has been a guest conductor with several ensembles.

In an effort to showcase both his own original compositions and pieces by other contemporary composers, he founded the Intégrales New Music Festival in 2005. Now an annual event, Intégrales NMF features world-premiere performances by nationally recognized musicians. Intégrales has expanded to include musical collaborations with artists, authors, and dancers. Theisen wrote his undergraduate thesis on György Ligeti's Piano Etudes, and has authored several papers on topics including Elliott Carter, film editing, composition as analysis, and Michael Brecker.

Other interests include mathematics, film criticism, and philosophy; in addition, Theisen has performed the role of Oberon in a production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, for which he also wrote the incidental music.

Theisen lives with his wife (and puts up with their two cats) in Tallahassee, Florida.

Saturday, April 26, 2008
Events on the Horizon

Greetings, Sequenza21 readers!

Another hectic semester has concluded at Florida State University, but the event dominating my life right now is the upcoming premiere of my new Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble. The work will be performed May 1 (this Thursday) at the University of Southern Mississippi (my alma mater). By all accounts, rehearsals have been going well which is a good sign - the piece is rather difficult.

I seem to be on a concerto kick. I wrote the piece last summer and autumn; this summer, I plan on finishing a good chunk of my Viola Concerto (also with wind ensemble) and a piece for my wife: Variations and Interludes on a Melody by Hindemith (for flute and wind ensemble). I enjoy working on two pieces at once, since it allows me to explore two competing sides of my personality - the thorny, atonal modernist and the crowd-pleasing populist. I like to think I do both at the same time most of my days, but sometimes it's nice to explore the limits in two separate works.

I've also finished sketching Ritorno (for flute, cello, and mezzo-soprano). This piece has been a major pain in my side for two years now and I'm glad that very soon I will have washed my hands of it and put it in the "Completed" stack.

The 08-09 school year will be a challenging one. I'll be giving talks at conferences, concluding course work, beginning my dissertation, and moving about the country as various musicians play my compositions (among them, my Saxophone Sonata which is in dire need of a good recording).

In other news, the acclaimed FSU graduate saxophone quartet is talking to me about a commission. They'd like a piece to take to the next World Saxophone Congress (in Thailand) and I certainly don't think I can turn them down.

As soon as the Concerto premieres next week, I'll post pictures and let you know how it went!