David Vayo


Fern Rosetta Sherff Professor of Composition and Theory

B.M., M.M., Indiana University; A.Mus.D., University of Michigan

Professor Vayo (b.1957) is the Fern Rosetta Sherff Professor and Composition Department head at Illinois Wesleyan University, where he teaches composition, improvisation, and contemporary music. As Coordinator of New Music Activities, he directs the annual Symposium of Contemporary Music, the New Music Cafe concert series, and other events in the School of Music's New Music Series. Vayo has also taught at Connecticut College and the National University of Costa Rica. He holds an A.Mus.D. in Composition from The University of Michigan, where his principal teachers were Leslie Bassett and William Bolcom; his M. Mus. and B. Mus. degrees are from Indiana University, where he studied with Frederick Fox and Juan Orrego-Salas.

Vayo has received awards and commissions from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, ASCAP, the Koussevitzky Music Foundations, the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the American Music Center, the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors, and the Illinois Council for the Arts, and has been granted numerous artists' colony residencies. More than four hundred performances and broadcasts of his compositions have taken place, including recent performances in Mexico, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Spain and at the universities of Wisconsin, Iowa and Utah. Festivals which have programmed his work include two International Trumpet Guild festivals, the International Trombone Festival, the International Double Reed Festival, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Thailand Composition Festival, and three World Music Days of the International Society for Contemporary Music. His compositions are published by Honeyrock, Brben/Italia Guitar Society Series, and the International Trombone Association Press.  Vayo is also active as a pianist performing contemporary music, free improvisations, and jazz.

Among the distinctive features of Vayo’s catalog are seven pieces for traditional Chinese instruments, six “musical poetry readings,” three pieces for live synthesizer, and four for amplified instruments with electronic enhancement. Vayo’s fascination with unusual instruments has led to compositions for extended-range glockenspiel; contrabassoon and three double basses; bass viola da gamba; five-string electric cello; and ships’ horns. Vayo’s theatrical works include the opera Fertile Ground; the performance piece Eight
Poems of William Carlos Williams for trombonist; and Chambers, a unique musical ritual in which the audience plays integral roles as sound-makers and active listeners. Jazz, a strong element of Vayo’s musical identity, appears in both subtle and straightforward ways in many of his compositions, and explicitly in such pieces as Entelechy for fusion-jazz quartet, Reach for big band, Signals for woodwinds, brass, piano and bass, and the piano pieces We Will and Jazz Jig for Jim.

For more on Professor Vayo's compositions and projects, including audio, please see his personal website: www.davidvayo.com