Composer Biographies

Click any of the links below to access composer biographies. See also the Faculty Biographies page.

Senior Composer-in-ResidenceDonald Crockett

2018 Composers-in-ResidencePierre Jalbert, Lei Liang, Paul Moravec

2018 Composition FellowsZheng (Selvester) Zhou, Ben Krause, Tommy Dougherty

Senior Composer-in-Residence


Los Angeles-based composer and conductor Donald Crockett has received commissions from a wide spectrum of organizations including the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (Composer-in-Residence, 1991–97), Kronos Quartet, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hilliard Ensemble, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Xtet, the San Francisco-based chamber chorus, Volti, the California EAR Unit, the Guitar Foundation of America, and the University of Southern California for its 125th anniversary, among many others.

Recent projects include an all-Crockett orchestral disc released in May, 2015 by Boston Modern Orchestra Project on BMOP/sound, commissions from the Harvard Musical Association for violist Kate Vincent and Firebird Ensemble, the Claremont Trio, 21st Century Consort, a chamber opera, The Face, based on a novella in verse by poet David St. John, and a consortium commission from twenty-two college and university wind ensembles for his Dance Concerto for Clarinet/Bass Clarinet and Wind Ensemble.

The recipient in 2013 of an Arts and Letters Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for outstanding artistic achievement, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006, Donald Crockett has also received grants and prizes from the Barlow Endowment, Bogliasco Foundation, Copland Fund, Copland House, Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards, Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA and many others. His music is published by Keiser Classical and Doberman/Yppan and recorded on the Albany, BMOP Sound, CRI, Doberman/Yppan, ECM, Innova, Laurel, New World, Orion and Pro Arte/Fanfare labels.

A frequent guest conductor with new music ensembles nationally, Donald Crockett has been very active over the years as a composer and conductor with the venerable and famed Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles. As conductor of the USC Thornton Symphony's annual New Music for Orchestra series, Donald Crockett has premiered over 125 new orchestral works by outstanding Thornton student composers. His recordings as a conductor can be found on the Albany, CRI, Doberman/Yppan, ECM and New World labels.

Deeply committed to education, Donald Crockett is Professor and Chair of the Composition Program, Director of Thornton Edge new music ensemble and Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs at the USC Thornton School of Music, as well as Senior Composer-in-Residence with the Bennington Chamber Music Conference.


To Top | To About the Composers' Forum | To Faculty By Week



Earning widespread notice for his richly colored and superbly crafted scores, Pierre Jalbert (b. 1967) has developed a musical language that is engaging, expressive, and deeply personal. Among his many honors are the Rome Prize, the BBC Masterprize, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's 2007 Stoeger Award, given biennially in recognition of significant contributions to the chamber music repertory, and a 2010 award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Jalbert has drawn inspiration from a variety of sources, from plainchant melodies to natural phenomena. His music has been performed worldwide, with four Carnegie Hall performances of his orchestral music, including the Houston Symphony's Carnegie Hall premiere of his orchestral work, big sky, in 2006. Other major works for orchestra include In Aeternam (2000), performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, Symphonia Sacra (2001), written for the California Symphony; Les espaces infinis (2001), written for the Albany Symphony, Chamber Symphony(2004), commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Fire and Ice (2007), commissioned for the Oakland East Bay, Marin, and Santa Rosa Symphonies through Meet the Composer Foundation's Magnum Opus Project, Autumn Rhapsody (2008), commissioned by the Vermont Symphony, and Shades of Memory (2011) premiered by the Houston Symphony. Recent orchestral performances include those by the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood, and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra under Marin Alsop. He has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (2002-2005), California Symphony under Barry Jekowsky (1999-2002), and Music in the Loft in Chicago (2003). Select chamber music commissions and performances include those of the Emerson, Ying, Borromeo, Maia, Enso, Chiara, and Escher String Quartets.

Jalbert is Professor of Music at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music in Houston, and he serves on the Artistic Board of Musiqa, a Houston-based new music group. His music is published by Schott Music.


To Top | To About the Composers' Forum | To Faculty By Week


Lei Liang (b.1972) is a Chinese-born American composer whose works have been described as hauntingly beautiful and sonically colorful by The New York Times, and as far, far out of the ordinary, brilliantly original and inarguably gorgeous by The Washington Post.

Winner of the 2011 Rome Prize, Lei Liang is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Aaron Copland Award, a Koussevitzky Music Foundation Commission, and a Creative Capital Award. His concerto Xiaoxiang (for saxophone and orchestra) was named a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Lei Liang was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert for the inaugural concert of the CONTACT! new music series. Other commissions and performances come from the Taipei Chinese Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, the Heidelberger Philharmonisches Orchester, the Thailand Philharmonic, pipa virtuoso Wu Man, the Fromm Music Foundation, Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America, the National Endowment for the Arts, MAP Fund, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the Manhattan Sinfonietta, Arditti Quartet, Shanghai Quartet, the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, New York New Music Ensemble and Boston Musica Viva. Lei Liang's six portrait discs are released on Naxos, Mode, New World, Encounter and Bridge Records, along with twelve compilation discs. As a scholar and conservationist of cultural traditions, he served as editor and co-editor of three books, and published more than twenty articles. From 2013-2016, Lei Liang served as Composer-in-Residence at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) where his multimedia works preserve and reimagine culture through combining advanced technology and scientific research.

Lei Liang studied composition with Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Robert Cogan, Chaya Czernowin, and Mario Davidovsky, and received degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music (BM and MM) and Harvard University (PhD). A Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, he held fellowships from the Harvard Society of Fellows and the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships. Lei Liang taught in China as a distinguished visiting professor at Shaanxi Normal University College of Arts in Xi'an; served as honorary professor of composition and sound design at Wuhan Conservatory of Music and as visiting assistant professor of music at Middlebury College. He currently serves as professor of music and chair of the composition area at the University of California, San Diego. Lei Liang's catalogue of more than seventy compositions is published exclusively by Schott Music Corporation (New York).


To Top | To About the Composers' Forum | To Faculty By Week


Paul Moravec, recipient of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Music, is the composer of numerous orchestral, chamber, choral, operatic, and lyric pieces. His music has earned many distinctions, including the Rome Prize Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, three awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation. A graduate of Harvard College and Columbia University, he has taught at Columbia, Dartmouth, and Hunter College and currently holds the special position of University Professor at Adelphi University. He was the 2013 Paul Fromm Composer-in-Residence at the American Academy in Rome, recently served as Artist-in-Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, and was also recently elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society.

Frequently commissioned by notable ensembles and major music institutions, Mr. Moravec’s current project is an oratorio about The Underground Railroad for premiere by the Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall in May, 2018. His most recent premiere is The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel, at Minnesota Opera in May, 2016. Other recent premieres include The Overlook Hotel Suite, with American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Winter Songs, with the Harvard Glee Club and Radcliffe Choral Society, Light Shall Lift Us, with Opera Orlando, The King's Man, with Kentucky Opera, and Amorisms, with Alias and the Nashville Ballet. Recent seasons have included the New York premiere of The Blizzard Voices, with the Oratorio Society of NY at Carnegie Hall, as well as the premieres of Violin Concerto, with Maria Bachmann and Symphony in C, and Shakuhachi Concerto, with James Schlefer and the Orchestra of the Swan (U.K.). Other recent premieres include Danse Russe, an opera for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts; Brandenburg Gate, with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; Piano Quintet, with Jeremy Denk and the Lark Quartet; and Wind Symphony, with a consortium of American concert bands.

Mr. Moravec's discography includes Northern Lights Electric, an album of his orchestral music with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project released in 2012 on the BMOP Sound label. He has five albums of chamber music on Naxos American Classics: Tempest Fantasy, performed by Trio Solisti with clarinetist David Krakauer; The Time Gallery, performed by eighth blackbird; Cool Fire, with the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival; Useful Knowledge, with soprano Amy Burton, baritone Randall Scarlata, Trio Solisti, and la Fenice Quintet; and Violin Concerto, with Maria Bachmann and Rossen Milanov's Symphony in C. Among his many other recorded works are: Double Action, Evermore, and Ariel Fantasy, performed by the Bachmann/Klibonoff Duo (Endeavour Classics); Sonata for Violin and Piano performed by the Bachmann/Klibonoff Duo (BMG/RCA Red Seal); Atmosfera a Villa Aurelia and Vince & Jan, performed by the Lark Quartet (Endeavour Classics); Morph, performed by the String Orchestra of New York (Albany); Anniversary Dances, with the Ying Quartet (Dorian Records); Cornopean Airs, with American Brass Quintet and organist Colin Fowler; and Andy Warhol Sez, with bassoonist Peter Kolkay and pianist Alexandra Nguyen. Other releases include Blue Fiddle, with Hilary Hahn on Deutsche Grammophon, and Piano Quintet, with Jeremy Denk and the Lark Quartet, on Bridge Records.

His work is published by Subito Music, available at


To Top | To About the Composers' Forum | To Faculty By Week

Composition Fellows


Zheng (Selvester) Zhou (b. 1992) is a Chinese-born composer and songwriter with diverse cultural experiences and awards. He learned violin at age of five, and started composing at age ten. He received his first lesson of piano and Chinese bamboo flute at age of eleven.

Zhou's music is characterized as multicultural; employing various elements of many genres. He has composed five pieces during the graduate studies at California State University, Northridge. One of his string quartets was based on Chinese pentatonic scales and the Huayin Old Tune, an ancient rhythmic vocal opera genre derived from local shadow puppet plays in Huayin City of Shanxi Province in China. He used polytonality in its folk melodies, and combined with Mongolian musical elements, such as the Long Song/Lone Tune and tremolo on thirds. He also absorbs compositional ideas from vivid images of the world around him, which has been presented in his graduate thesis project. Inspired by a trip to Seattle, he composed a mixed quintet piece for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and percussion via the grabbed notes from the Downtown Seattle skyline and extended techniques.

Zhou is currently working on composing and researching visual music and post-spectral music with cultural diversity. As a perceptive person, he determines colors in sounds. He then interprets visual images–from landscapes to metropolises, from ocean tides to urban transportation, from the shape of clouds to geomorphological maps–into notes as same as his inspiration from the Downtown Seattle skyline. On the other hand, he also combines post-spectral techniques with traditional instruments and musical vocabularies from several cultures. In particular, he extends the capabilities of these instruments through electronic manipulation.

Zhou received several national awards in China as a composer and songwriter, including the First and Second Prize of The Sixth Achievement Exhibition of Nation Aesthetic Education of China (2014), and The First Prize of the The Album Top 100 of Chinese Excellent Original Songs in 2017-2018. Four of his chamber music pieces and two pop songs have been published by China Scientific & Cultural Audio-video Publishing Co., Ltd.

Zhou holds a degree in musicology from China University of Mining and Technology (B. A.) and a degree in music composition from California State University, Northridge (M. M.). Currently, he is pursing his PhD in Music Composition at the University of Utah.


To Top | To About the Composers' Forum | To Faculty By Week


Benjamin Krause's work has been recognized through grants, commissions, and awards by the Houston Symphony, Network for New Music, Oregon Community Foundation, Presser Foundation, ASCAP, Da Camera of Houston, and The American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France. His piece Pathways for chamber orchestra was named the winner of the Houston Symphony's inaugural Young Composer Competition and was described as attractive... the composer craftily reconstituted orders of events to create a compelling dramatic arc. Krause's excellent control of dissipating energy for the serene ending of the work was most impressive ( He was recently commissioned by the Delgani String Quartet, with support from an Oregon Community Foundation Creative Heights grant, to compose his 30-minute String Quartet No. 1 "Cascades", a four-movement work inspired by the landscape atop the McKenzie Pass in the Oregon Cascade Range. Delgani has recently released a recording of the work on their album Distant Monuments. An artist with diverse interests, Krause has collaborated with photographers, dancers, architects, and filmmakers in his creative work. He was a Young Artist of Da Camera (2011-2012) and was the recipient of the 2012 Presser Award, enabling a summer of study in Europe at the American Conservatory of Fontainebleau, where his work was awarded the Prix Marion Tournon Branly.

Krause's music is characterized by its visceral rhythmic drive, tight motivic control, and colorful, dense, and nuanced harmonies reminiscent of jazz. His music draws freely and fluently from many historical traditions and aesthetics,  both improvisational and carefully controlled, often creating new sound worlds through the absorption and synthesis of disparate musical idioms. His Night Tides (2011) for flute and piano "simultaneously established and explored a detailed, individual musical landscape. Mr. Krause performed the work fantastically, engendering his expressive and densely atonal textures with clear structures and a palpable rhetorical/narrative arc" (Sequenza 21). Other works, such as Uv'Chein Variations (2012) for violin and piano, and Suite for Bari Sax and Piano (2016) explore connections between classical forms (theme and variations, Baroque dance suites) with folk and popular sources. Just as often, as in Beach Scenes (2013) and his first string quartet (2017), his music evokes a sense of the mystical, depicting expansive landscapes and environments through lush textures and an impressionistic sense of sonority and color.

Krause's current projects include: a commission from the Indiana Music Teachers Association/Music Teachers National Association for Fall 2018; a new work for Saxophonist Stacy Maugans for the World Saxophone Congress in Croatia in July 2018; a new work for the Bennington Chamber Music Conference, where he will appear as a Composition Fellow in August 2018; and a new work for flute and contrabass for bassist Paul Cannon of Ensemble Modern, Germany for the 2018-19 season.

As a pianist, Krause is active in contemporary music, jazz, and the traditional classical repertoire, with performances at Carnegie Hall, Zilkha Hall (Houston), the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Menil Collection, and in collaboration with such artists as Molly Barth (Eighth Blackbird), Jeffrey Zeigler (the Kronos Quartet), Timothy McAllister (PRISM Saxophone Quartet), and Ronald Feldman (the Boston Symphony). In both solo performances and collaborations with many ensembles, he has premiered and performed over fifty new works in a wide variety of venues, in addition to performing the works of major 20th and 21st century composers such as George Crumb, Louis Andriessen, John Cage, and Pierre Jalbert. As a jazz pianist, he has appeared as a soloist and in performances with saxophonists Woody Witt and Horace Alexander Young, the VU Faculty Jazz Trio, and the Paul Ingram Jazz Quintet (San Diego, CA).

Krause holds composition degrees from Rice University (D.M.A.) and the University of Oregon (M.M.) As an educator, he has designed and taught university courses in composition, orchestration, music theory, aural skills, and jazz, and, while Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Valparaiso University (2015 - 2018), he founded and directed VUNUMU (Valparaiso University New Music Ensemble), coaching and leading performances of the work of leading contemporary composers as well as of that of student composers.

His primary teachers include Pierre Jalbert, Anthony Brandt, Richard Lavenda, Robert Kyr, and David Crumb, with additional summer studies under Kevin Puts, Allain Gaussin, Francois Paris,and Robert Aldridge. He studied piano with Brian Connelly, Joseph Bognar, and Peter Gach.


To Top | To About the Composers' Forum | To Faculty By Week


Tommy Dougherty (b. 1990) is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is a composer of orchestral, chamber, and solo works.

Over the past several years, Tommy's music has been performed by Alarm Will Sound, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra, Kinetic: The Conductorless Ensemble, the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra, and the Eastman Philharmonia. In 2016 and 2017, Tommy was a recipient of two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Awards.

In 2018, the Modern Violin Ensemble (MoVE) will premiere Extraordinary Instruments, a violin quartet that aims to bring awareness to issues of gun culture in the United States. For more information on this and other projects by MoVE, visit

Also an active violinist, Tommy performs regularly with the San Diego Symphony and has played with the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra in Los Angeles, CA and Kinetic: The Conductorless Ensemble in Houston, TX.

Tommy received his Master of Music degree in composition from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and his Bachelor's degrees in both composition and violin performance from the Eastman School of Music. Currently pursuing a DMA in composition at USC's Thornton School of Music, Tommy has studied privately with Sean Friar and Andrew Norman.

To hear Tommy’s music, go to:


To Top | To About the Composers' Forum | To Faculty By Week

The Chamber Music Conference and Composers’ Forum of the East, Inc.
Tobias Werner, Music Director
Donald Crockett, Senior Composer-in-Residence
Susie Ikeda, Executive Director

617-447-1808  •
please support the businesses that support us | find us on facebook