An accomplished composer and electric guitarist, D.J. Sparr has caught the attention of critics with his eclectic style, described as
“pop-Romantic… iridescent and wondrous” (Mercury News) and “suits the boundary erasing spirit of today’s new-music world” (New York Times). The Los Angeles Times praises him as “an excellent soloist” and the Santa Cruz Sentinel says that he “wowed an enthusiastic audience…Sparr’s guitar sang in a near-human voice.”
D. J. Sparr recently completed his tenure as the 2011-2014 Young American Composer-in-Residence with the California Symphony where his works were premiered by Nicholas McGegan, Donato Cabrera, and Robert Treviño. Recent premieres have been by the Washington National Opera, eighth blackbird, the Dayton Philharmonic, Richmond Symphony, and Hexnut. Sparr was awarded the $10,000 grand prize in the orchestra category of the BMG/Williams College National Young Composers Competition and has received awards and recognition from BMI, the American Music Center, Eastman School of Music, George Washington University, the League of Composers/ISCM, and New Music USA. A fast rising star, D.J. Sparr’s musical vision is bound to catapult him to the realm of indispensable American composers.
Composer and electric guitar soloist D. J. SPARR (b. 1975, Westminster, MD) is one of the preeminent composer-performers of his generation. His eclectic composition style has been described as “pop-Romantic… iridescent and wondrous”
(Mercury News) and “suits the boundary erasing spirit of today’s new-music world”
(New York Times). The Los Angeles Times praises him as “an excellent soloist”
and the Santa Cruz Sentinel says that he “wowed an enthusiastic audience…Sparr’s guitar sang in a near-human voice.”
In 2011, Sparr was named one of NPR listener’s favorite 100 composers under the age 40.
D. J. was the Young American Composer-in-Residence with the California Symphony from 2011-14 and was Composer-in-Residence with the Richmond Symphony from 2009-11. His compositions have been commissioned and performed by organizations such as the Houston Grand Opera, North Carolina Opera, and Eighth Blackbird. Recent/upcoming works include KATRINA: CONCERTO FOR JAZZ GUITAR AND ORCHESTRA (Arkansas Symphony) WHITE GOLD (CAM Raleigh, NC Symphony), & ON BEHALF: A METAPHOR (Tribeca New Music Festival). Ashville Lyric Opera is currently developing a touring production of his opera APPROACHING ALI.
Of the premiere of APPROACHING ALI (Washington National Opera), the Baltimore Sun writes, “…Sparr knows how to send a vocal line soaring vividly and how to extract a great deal of color from a 10-member orchestra… It also demonstrates Sparr’s considerable potential; his first attempt in this tricky genre lands some very solid punches…like Ali in his prime, the score is nimble on its feet.”
As a sought-after electric guitar soloist, D. J. has performed concertos with the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini (Parma, It.), the New World Symphony, Cabrillo Festival of New Music with Marin Alsop as well as the Symphonies of Alabama, Dayton, and Fort Collins. He has performed solo works at venues such as the Smithsonian Institute’s Hirshhorn Museum, Atlas Theater (Washington, DC), Ethos New Music Society (Fredonia, NY) the Flea Theater, and Spectrum (New York, NY). In the 2016-17 season, Sparr will appear with UT Austin (Austin, TX), Signature Symphony (Tulsa, OK), Winston Salem Symphony (North Carolina), & Space Coast Symphony (Cocoa, FL). The 2016-17 season culminates at Abby Roads Studios with the London Symphony and Joanne Falletta recording composer Kenneth Fuch’s electric guitar concerto GLACIER for release on Naxos Records.
A passion for musical performance grew from family encouragement at a young age. Three-year old D. J. stood in front of a television set holding his Great grandmother Violet Bond’s straw broom in hand pretending it was a guitar, while Roy Clark and Buck Owens performed on the Television show Hee Haw. Noticing this, Violet gave him a toy Mickey Mouse guitar for his third birthday and a Ukulele for his forth birthday. By age five, D. J. was taking guitar lessons and was soon performing original songs for a “captive” audience at his local music store, Coffey Music in Westminster, MD.
In early high school, D. J. spent his late-night and weekend hours writing and recording music with a Fostex X-26 4-track recorder while attending Baltimore School for the Arts as a jazz guitar major. Surrounded by classical music he began to write compositions for a variety of instruments and attended summer composition programs at The Walden School and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. D. J. continued honing his compositional craft at the Eastman School of Music (BM) and the University of Michigan (MM, DMA) studying with composers William Bolcom, Michael Daugherty, Christopher Rouse, Joseph Schwantner, & Augusta Read Thomas.
Hailing from Baltimore, D. J. currently lives in the mystical high planes of the Wild West with his wife Kimberly and their dog Nanette. More info at www.djsparr.com