David J. Downs

Interdisciplinary musician — composer, arranger, performer


David J. Downs began serious musical study before entering high school; his first experimental composition began shortly thereafter. Over the ensuing years, Mr. Downs voraciously studied composition with a number of composers, including Thomas Jansen, John Ferritto, Chas Baker, James Sheppard, and G. Roger Davis. Soon after receiving his Bachelor of Music degree from Kent State University, he completed course work at Miami University, where he also served as graduate assistant in the specialized areas of electronic music and composition.

As a composer, Mr. Downs has moved past the inherent limitations of atonality; his original music now tends toward unique stylistic fusions. Elements of the tonal and atonal, sacred and profane, classic and contemporary blend in what can only be described as a true syncretism of Western music.

Mr. Downs has completed many arrangements—most for pedagogical use, and nearly all produced on commission. Working alone or as a collaborator (in one especially successful union, Mr. Downs and his co-writer have produced arrangements of more than forty musical works for advanced high school vocalists and instrumentalists), he lends his musical voice to these pieces, in many cases transforming them into a new work that exceeds the original in detail, interest, and musical style.

A master educator, David J. Downs leads seminars and courses on the aesthetics, philosophy, and pragmatic practice of music composition and arranging. His deep knowledge of musical content, expertise in educational best practice, exceptional communication skills, and easy-going personality yield a teacher who guides students to their own revelations, while at the same time unceasingly challenges them to expand their perceptions and preconceptions of the nature of music, art, and the world.

Currently, Mr. Downs lives in central Missouri. While he maintains an active schedule, he welcomes inquiries on his availability for commissions of new compositions, arrangements, or educational opportunities.