MEET THE COMPOSER: THEO CHANDLER

Leading up to our concerts on March 23 (Philly), March 24 (New York), and March 25 (Boston), we’d like to introduce you to the composers we commissioned! We are so excited about this music and the people it comes from!

Today we’d like you to meet Theo Chandler!

theo headshot.jpg

Theo Chandler is a Houston-based composer, currently pursuing his Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Rice University Shepherd School of Music. Chandler is the recipient of a Charles Ives Scholarship from the Academy of Arts and Letters and a Morton Gould Award from ASCAP. We asked Theo a few questions and, to no one’s surprise, his answers were fantastic:

Tell us a bit about yourself! Where are you from?

I am Theo Chandler, and I am composer from Hillsborough, North Carolina. I started playing clarinet in 6th grade band, and officially switched focus to composing in my undergrad. Both my parents are visual artists, so my creative endeavors were encouraged from a young age.

Who would you “cite” as your major influences, non-musical included? What inspires you?

The three composers I think about most often are Ligeti, Hartke, and Beethoven. I love them for what I see as their continual reevaluation of genre. As for non-musical influences, I am a visually-oriented person, so I am most inspired by film and visual art. My two favorite movies are Jacques Tati's Playtime and Paweł Pawlikowski Ida.

 How did you meet Ally and Ben?

I got to know Ben at Oberlin, probably because I spent far too much time in the bassoon reed room. Ben introduced me to Ally over email, and I met her in person at Tanglewood. I admire both of them for their artistry and grit.

 Favourite food?

Pretty much anything with a lot of sugar. Other ingredients may vary.

 Most mind-boggling concert you’ve been to lately?

Ben Kamins performing the Gubaidulina Bassoon Concerto. It is always good to be confronted by a composer who thinks so differently about form and meaning in music.

What’s something people might not know about you?

People are generally shocked to find out how much time I spend watching interviews with rappers on Youtube.

 Besides the obvious choice of bassoon and soprano, what are some of your ~dream~ instrumentaions to write for in the future?

I adore any instrumentation that pits a soloist against an ensemble. If I could write concertos and orchestral song cycles for the rest of my life I would be very happy. I dream of writing a 30 minute concerto for four violins and orchestra.

 What would like you to see change the most in our industry?

I think we need to incorporate contemporary music into music education at a younger age. Many musicians are not exposed to it until they have become well acquainted with traditional repertoire. The longer we wait to learn to play and interpret contemporary music, the more foreign its vocabulary will feel.

Thanks so much to Theo for taking the time and answering our questions! I know I will definitely be going straight to watch some interviews with rappers. Come here Theo’s “Tamora Monologues”, written for soprano, bassoon, and string quartet, on our East Coast Tour!

Alexandra Smither