David Francis Urrows
David Francis Urrows (b. Honolulu, Hawai’i, 1957) grew up in New York, where he was trained as a chorister
and studied piano and organ with Allen Sever. He was educated at New York University, Brandeis University,
the University of Edinburgh, where he studied composition under Kenneth Leighton, and Boston University,
where he received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1987. From 1976 to 1984 he studied composition privately
with American composer Randall Thompson. Urrows composes primarily on commission. Works of his many genres–choral pieces, orchestral works, compositions for vocal and instrumental soloists, music for chamber ensembles, and scores for the theater–have been performed in the United States, Europe, Great Britain and Asia. A list of his major works can be found at http://www.composers21.com/compdocs/urrowsdf.htm He has published scholarly articles, a critical edition of the
music of German-American composer Otto Dresel (1826-90), and has written and edited a number of books, the topics
ranging from contemporary choral music to word and music studies, and to East-West musical intersections including
a history of the pipe organ in China (Keys to the Kingdom, 2017), and his recent François Ravary SJ and a Sino-European
Musical Culture in Nineteenth-Century Shanghai (2021). Urrows has served on the teaching faculties of Boston University, the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Eastern Mediterranean University, Hong Kong Baptist University, and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. He has also been active as an organist and conductor, including leading the Hong Kong Bach Choir (1989-91), and the Hong Kong Cecilian Singers (1999 - 2000).
"Ricordanza dell’Umbria" by David Francis Urrows
(1987). In Ricordanza dell’Umbria (Recollection of Umbria) I have tried to convey something of myimpressions of the hill town of Assisi, and the Basilica of St. Francis, which were the result of a visit there in the winter of 1987 (that is, before the earthquake of September 1997). The music is my description of the haunting character of the place, which when viewed from the right angle seems hardly to have changed since the Middle Ages. In particular, I remember the town obscured by heavy mist, and the great crucifixion fresco by Cimabue in the Upper Church, now, alas, only a memory in its original state. Included in the central section of the work is the plainsong Introit, Mihi autem absit (from the Feast of the Stigmatization of St. Francis), to make an explicit connection between the musical and the impressionistic materials. The work was first performed at Boston University by pianist Danielle Fascione, on 14 February 1988.
"Five Pieces" for piano solo – all short and ‘aphoristic’ – were written while I was an undergraduate at Brandeis University, in 1976 and 1977. They were not assignments of any kind, but I shared them with my two composition teachers at the time, Harold Shapero (1920-2013), and Arthur Berger (1912-2003). Berger was the more responsive, and while he recognized that
each of them had a kind of model in the music of an earlier composer, he was also helpful and suggested many improvements.
I have a kind of nostalgia for this very mixed period in my life. Tincture of time has blunted many pains from back then, and in the present these pieces still seem worth playing and hearing – on occasion.