Features

Doctoral Dissertation

Carma Wadley

Deseret News | Sunday, April 4, 2010

And the commissions kept coming. "That has happened virtually all my life, for $5,000, for $10,000, even for $35,000. It was unheard of for many composers to make that kind of money," he says. His works were performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic, among others.

"But I was also very lucky that I had my own orchestra to play my own stuff." Over the years, he did more than 75 compositions and arrangements for his orchestras and for annual Children's and Pops concerts.

One memorable project involved an African-American choir in Beloit. "Their director came to me and said they would like to sing with the symphony. But it was a jazz choir, and they sang by ear, rather than by reading music. So, what could we do together? Finally, I had them make a recording of their accompaniment, and I made an orchestral instrumentation to fit their improvisation. When we put it all together, it was the most incredible thing. It was our biggest Pops Concert in 25 years." What was even more remarkable what how it brought the blacks and whites in the community together in those struggling-for-civil-rights years, he says. "It was wonderful."

His has been a life filled with remarkable achievements, but this last one is very gratifying, he says. To be honored as an American composer of note is very special. "I was overwhelmed by the whole event in Kansas, its concept and its realization."

Composers can't demand that kind of attention, he says. "They can't even expect it. The fact that it happens is an incredible blessing in my life."

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