Meet the Louisiana Composers!

On December 4, we are cooking up a diverse show of chamber music by composers based in Louisiana! This program presents a sampling of the unique compositional voices coming out of Louisiana today and shows the varied concerns and influences of modern composers.

Five of the pieces were chosen from our 2014 Call for Scores – Nick Hwang’s Sunset, Stephen David Beck’s Songs for a Prelude, Greg Robin’s Trio for Violin, Flute and Piano, Mendel Lee’s The Other Path and Stephen Suber’s Variations on a Song in the Wind. Additionally, Exhaled Rhyme by Vanissa Law, Elegy for Don by Colin Kemper, October Translations by Elliot Downey and a new piano work by Rick Snow will also be presented. Influenced by technology, world events, relationships, nature and memory, these works represent a cross-section of modern-day concerns, inspirations and musical styles.

Read on to meet the composers.

VanissaVanissa Law

Vanissa was born in Hong Kong and began her music studies at the Hong Kong Baptist University in 2004, started out as a piano major and studied piano with Chinese composer Mr. Cui Shiguang, She composed a number of ensemble works in her undergraduate study and presented her first choral suite Tsunami in the honours project composition recital in 2007. Vanissa then turned her focus towards electroacoustic music composition during her stay at Ball State University, Indiana, majoring in voice and music composition. Vanissa’s composition teachers include Christopher Keyes, Christopher Coleman, Michael Pounds, Keith Kothman, Jody Nagel and Derek Johnson. She also studied voice with Ms Katusha Tsui-Fraser and Dr. Mei Zhong and was the winner of the regional (Indiana) audition of the National Association of Teachers of Singing in US in 2008.

Vanissa returned to Hong Kong in 2010, and is now a PhD candidate at the HKBU working on interactive electroacoustic music. Vanissa’s pieces and installations have been premiered and exhibited internationally at various events and festivals including the 13th International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (Seoul, Korea), Society of Composers (SCI) Region VI Conference (Texas, US), University of Central Missouri New Music Festival (Missouri, US), the soundSCAPE festival (Italy), 2013 International Workshop on Computer Music and Audio Technology (Taipei) and Hong Kong Arts Festival.

Vanissa has just granted the Fulbright Research Award and will be sponsored to do a 10-month research at Louisiana Digital Media Center in 2014-15.

For more information about Vanissa, and to hear samples of her music, visit

Beck, Stephen LSU5520Stephen David Beck

Stephen David Beck is the Derryl and Helen Haymon Professor of Composition & Computer Music at Louisiana State University.  He received his PhD in music composition and theory from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1988, where he studied with Henri Lazarof, Elaine Barkin, Alden Ashforth, Paul Reale and Roger Bourland. From 1985-86, he held a Fulbright Fellowship as a researcher at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in Paris, France.  Most recently, he has been guest composer at the 2014 Southwest Electronic Music Festival in Phoenix, AZ, the VII Festival Internacional Alfredo De Saint Malo in Panama City, Panama, and at the 2013 Festival de Internacional de Inverno UFSM in Vale Vêneto, Brazil.  His music and writings have been published by G. Schirmer, MIT Press, and the Computer Music Journal, and his music has been recorded on the SEAMUS, EMF and Gothic record lables.

For more information about Stephen, and to hear samples of his music, visit

Downey_PhotoElliot Downey is a composer and guitarist based in New Orleans, LA. He is thrilled to have received his bachelors of music in composition from Loyola University New Orleans, where he was lucky enough to study with William Horne, Paul Botelho, Jimbo Walsh, and John Appleton. Elliot believes that the beauties of life and diversity of sounds outside of the practice room are just as essential to music making as the sounds created within one, which is probably why he carries a small field recorder with him in his pocket wherever he goes… After all, “Everything we do is music.”

For more information about Stephen, and to hear samples of his music, visit

S SuberStephen Suber has composed for a variety of media and performers and has several recordings to his credit. He studied with Reinhart Ross, Robert Ashley, Terry Riley, and Frederick Fox. Since 1982 he has taught composition, music theory, and music history at Southeastern Louisiana University.

You can hear excerpts from some of Stephen’s works here:

mendelMendel Lee is a composer, musician, and an Innovative Percussion Educational Artist residing in New Orleans, Louisiana.  He earned his B.M. in Music Composition at West Chester University and his M.M. in Music Composition at the University of Oregon.  He is currently the Assistant Director of Bands at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana and the founder and co-director of the nienteForte Contemporary Music Festival at Tulane University.

Mendel has received high acclaim for his creative vision as a composer and music arranger, earning him numerous commissions and performances including the Portland Percussion Group, the Xavier University Symphonic Winds in Cincinnati, OH, and The Concert Singers in Los Angeles, CA, as well as marching band show design for high schools and colleges nationwide.  In his debut year as the creative designer for Hermiston High School’s Marching Band in 2009, his creative show Star Trek: Through the Generations earned them placement in finals for the first time in their program’s history.  His solo timpani work Timpani Forces (2011), published by Tapspace, has been praised by composers and performers alike for its virtuosity and uniqueness. “…there really is nothing else out there like it. It’s a game-changer [in solo timpani literature].”

In his spare time, Mendel is an amateur poker player, cashing in 8th place in 2009 and 1st place in 2011 of the Pot Limit Omaha tournament of the Winter Bayou Poker Challenge held in Harrah’s New Orleans. He is also the lead music and sound designer for his brother’s independent video game company dognebula.  For more information, visit him at


Gregory Robin (D.M.A., University of Alabama) is a composer and music educator based in Lafayette, Louisiana. He leads a varied musical career as a composer, music theorist, andguitarist.

As a composer, his music has been performed at venues and conferences in the United Statesand in Portugal. His music is influenced by his composition studies with C.P. First, Tristan Murail,and Mario Davidovsky.  Gregory’s music explores timbre, rhythmic partitioning of motivic elements, and the juxtaposition of dynamic contrast and musical interruption. Through a tightly controlled yet intuitive process, motivic elements of pitch, rhythm, and timbre meld together to form a cohesive and organic whole. These processes yield a lyrical and dramatic style that draws listeners into a sound worldthat is richly varied in its harmony and color.

As an educator, he has taught at Jacksonville State University, Western Carolina University, South Louisiana Community College, and the Lafayette High School Performing Arts Academy.  Gregory holds a B.M. in music theory and composition from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette,a M.M. in guitar performance from the University of South Carolina, and a doctorate in music composition, with a minor in musicology, from the University of Alabama.

For more information about Greg, and to listen to samples of his music, visit


Rick Snow is a composer of acoustic and electronic music as well as a creator of multi-modal artworks of sound and light. Custom interactive computer sound and projection mapping instruments and installations comprise his most recent work. In this work he seeks to create situations in which audiences discover a complex “alien” generative system with its own memory and habits. These situations create an interaction between participant and work engaging the active memory and movement of both the participant and the system. His work has been performed/exhibited in many venues in the United States as well as selectively in Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, and Wales.A few of his most recent projects include Wash: Awake -a generative installation for computer controlled transducers and projection mapping on a 40′x20′ hanging sculpture by artist Jamey Grimes, Arcanum: Memories Cryptic -a series of works for piano solo commissioned by Katalin Lukács, Singing Sweetly from a Spider’s Web – an interactive sound installation in which participants’ voices are transformed and re-presented as harmonic content in a network of sound synthesis, Postcards, Islands, Elegy, Distance -an orchestra piece commissioned by the La Jolla Symphony commemorating Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday, and Fenceless Fields of Grain -a percussion 12tet commissioned by Pierre Boulez and the Lucerne Festival Academy Percussion Ensemble.

He holds the position of Professor of Practice at Tulane University where he oversees the Music Science and Technology area. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego.


Kemper photo

Colin Kemper recently received an MA in music composition from Tulane University. His works have been performed by members of the Dal Niente Ensemble, Orlando Cela, the Lunar Ensemble, and Tulane Faculty. He received BA degrees in both Music and History at Tulane University. He currently lives in New Orleans.

To hear more of Colin’s music visit: 



Nick Hwang was born in Hsinchu, Taiwan and currently lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Compositional and Experimental Music & Digital Media at the Louisiana State University. His dissertation is supported by a Dissertation-Year Fellowship and through his coursework was supported through a teaching assistantship. Nick holds a Masters degree in Music Composition from Louisiana State University and B.A. in Theory and Composition from the University of Florida. His teachers have included James Paul Sain, Paul Koonce, Paul Richards, Paul Basler, Dinos Constantinides, and Stephen David Beck.


For more information about Nick, and to listen to samples of his music, visit


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