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Kenneth LaFave

Artists/Composers - Composers K-O
Kenneth LaFave

Kenneth LaFave


Kenneth LaFave has composed music for orchestra, band, choir, chamber ensembles and the stage. His latest works include Gateways, a concerto for electric guitar and symphonic band, commissioned by Arizona State University; and the full-length, one-act opera, American Gothic, commissioned by a consortium of private donors. Both were premiered at ASU in the fall of 2005. He is currently (December, 2006) at work on a percussion concerto and the score for a new musical comedy to be produced in spring, 2007.

LaFave's other recent compositions include The Medicine Gift for narrator, two horns and piano, composed for Houston horn virtuoso Thomas Bacon (2005); Fly!, an overture commissioned by The Tucson Symphony orchestra and premiered by that orchestra in 2004; Risen, commissioned and performed by the Phoenix Symphony in 2003; Immense Sky, a song cycle based on texts by various poets, commissioned by tenor Philip Eve and premiered by him in London, 2004; String Quartet, commissioned by the Sun Cities Chamber Music Society and premiered by the Chicago String Quartet in 2003; and Spires, a choral work commemorating the first anniversary of 9/11, premiered by the Kansas City Chorale in 2002. Two LaFave works for timpani, "Three Pieces for Five Timpani" (premiered by former New York Philharmonic principal timpanist Roland Kohloff) and the concerto Hermes (timpani and strings), are among percussion students, most frequently performed scores. LaFave's Echoes of New York, commissioned by clarinetist Robert Spring in 1997, is soon to be released as part of a compact disc featuring Spring on the Summit label.

LaFave's works for the stage include Closing Time, a cabaret opera in one scene, performed by Pima Community College (Tucson) in 1999; incidental music for the Arizona Theatre Company production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile (2000); and a reduced orchestration of Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, also commissioned by Arizona Theatre Company (2001). His musical, Outlaw Heart, was workshopped in 2001 at the Kerr Cultural Center.

A website, kennethlafave.com, contains examples of LaFave's music and promotes his "Musical Portraits", pieces composed electronically as musical impressions of people. For much of his life, LaFave maintained a second career as a music journalist, including fulltime positions at The Arizona Republic (1994-2005) and The Kansas City Star (1987-1990). During his years with the Republic, he won several awards for arts criticism from the Arizona Press Club. He has also written for Dance magazine, Opera News, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. Today, LaFave writes program notes; recent credits include The Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

LaFave studied with Robert Muczynski and Robert McBride at the University of Arizona, as well as with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ned Rorem at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Florida, and with TV composer Mark Snow at New York University.

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