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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Off to Hattiesburg

For the next few days, I will be heading to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to give a long paper on Elliott Carter's later harmonic and formal techniques. I'll be joined in my lecturing with Jonathan Bernard and David Schiff (who was recently featured on the Sequenza21 main page).

In addition, my wife Misty will be performing Carter's 1991 solo flute piece "Scrivo in Vento". To see the line-up for papers and the wonderful night concert, go here:

After I return, I'll be working hard for two weeks on my doctoral preliminary exams (graduation date from Florida State is off somewhere on the horizon)...

More (?) importantly, my brief piano work "Ars Lucis/Umbrae" will be premiered by pianist Lynn Raley in March (along with the first performance of a new composition by Charles Wuorinen). "Ars Lucis/Umbrae" is an absolutely brutal two minutes of music, loaded with spiky dissonances, metric modulations, and a roller-coaster-like formal design sure to drive the blue-hairs out of the auditorium. A gnarly night, indeed...

Later in the cruel month of April, the good folks at Samford University will give the premiere of the first two movements of my Symphony for Wind Ensemble. The first movement, "Allegro Capriccioso", was given a run-through by a high-school honor band in January. Part two, "Final Scene from L'isola del Giorno Prima", has yet to be completed and is a musical interpretation of the last chapter of my favorite Eco novel. Because the book is (at heart) a love story, I am casting this central movement of my Symphony as an Impressionistic duo for flute and alto saxophone with wind ensemble accompaniment. The more I work on it, the more it sounds like Dutilleux mixed with Frank Martin's piano pieces.

I am a "band kid" through and through, so the decision to compose my (first) symphony for a string-less large ensemble was an obvious one...