Biography

Recognized for his “sense of creative imperative” (The Philadelphia Inquirer) and for music “filled with terrific orchestral color and weight, not to mention feeling” (The Baltimore Sun), Douglas Buchanan (b. 1984, Westfield, NY) is an active composer, conductor, performer, and educator in the greater Baltimore/D.C. area. He currently serves as Composition Faculty at Dickinson College, Music Theory and Musicology Faculty at the Peabody Conservatory, Artistic Director of the Maryland Choral Society, Co-Founder and Director of Voices Rise: A Baltimore Choir of Hope, and Organist and Choirmaster of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Baltimore. He completed his DMA in Composition under the tutelage of Michael Hersch at the Peabody Conservatory, receiving the Philip D. Glass Prize in Composition and the Edward T. Cone Memorial Award in Music Theory. Previous degrees include Composition (M.Mus., the Peabody Conservatory), Music Theory Pedagogy (M.Mus., the Peabody Conservatory), and Piano Performance (B.Mus., the College of Wooster), where he trained as an organist with John Russell, and as a conductor with Jeffrey Lindberg and Nancy Ditmer.

Buchanan’s compositions have been praised for their “ability to get under the skin of [the music’s] core material,” (The Scotsman) wherein his cross-disciplinary musicianship is evident. His works are frequently linked with poetic texts and visual art, creating a network of images, words, and music akin to the mythic experience of ritual. In August 2017 he was the recipient of the Sackler Prize in Music Composition, a substantial national award commissioning a new opera to be premiered in 2019. From 2016-2018 he will serve as Composer-in-Residence for the Dallas Chamber Symphony, funded by a grant from the TACA Foundation and culminating in the performance of Crossroads, a chamber symphony featuring the Dallas Street Choir with poetry written by the Street Choir’s members. His piano cycle Colonnades, which included text and photography by the composer, received both a Presser Award from the Peabody Institute and an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award; its sequel, Welkinharmonie, for solo organ, was supported by a residency at the Shin Pond Artist’s Retreat, and culminated in a performance in October 2015 at the National Cathedral. Other notable collaborations include: commissions from the Peabody and Annapolis Operas, the Montreat Music conference, Rhymes with Opera, and Shostakovich collaborator Yevgeny Yevtoshenko; residencies with the LUNAR ensemble, the Broken Consort, and the Canticle Singers of Baltimore; and performances and readings by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, the Peabody Children’s Chorus, the Peabody Symphony Orchestra (which awarded Buchanan the Macht Award for Outstanding Orchestral Composition), the Hebrides Ensemble, and the Symphony in C (which granted Buchanan their Young Composers Award for his work Malleus). Previous composition study includes lessons with Libby Larsen, Nicholas Maw, Chen Yi, Sally Beamish, Alasdair Nicolson, Jack Gallagher, and Melissa Hui, and masterclasses with Christopher Rouse, Christopher Theofanidis, and Karel Husa. An advocate for young composers, he teaches privately in Baltimore and has served as coordinator and composition mentor for the Baltimore Choral Arts Young Composers Readings.

An ardent educator, Buchanan has taught and lectured at institutions ranging from liberal arts colleges to state universities to conservatories. In addition to his work at Peabody and Dickinson, he has taught at Towson University and has given guest lectures at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Baltimore, SUNY Fredonia, and the Shenandoah Conservatory. He remains active as a researcher, particularly in the realms of music perception and cognition, music and animal rights, music and evolution, music and meaning, and special topics in music theory (including spectralism, topoi, and rhetoric), and the application of game design and game theory in the theory classroom. Recent notable conference appearances include research in game-ifying the theory classroom, presented at the CMS National 2016 Conference, presentations and performances at the 2015 College Music Society International Conference, a paper and a lecture-recital at the Ecomusicologies 2014 conference, receiving the 2013 Lowens Award for Outstanding Graduate Research from the American Musicological Society Capital Chapter, and serving as summer faculty at the Chautauqua Institute. Also a visual artist and poet, Buchanan has illustrated and co-authored books with Continuum Publishing and Lantern Books.

As a choral conductor and performer, Buchanan has been praised for eliciting “assured, nuanced singing” from the ensembles he conducts, and for his “keen sense of mood, dynamics, and pacing” (The Baltimore Sun). Most recently he won 2nd Place in the Conducting: Community Chorus Division of the 2016 American Prize. In 2015 he was appointed to serve as Artistic Director of the Maryland Choral Society, where he conducts the chorus and orchestra in performances of both canonical and contemporary compositions. He also serves as Organist and Choirmaster of Historic St. David’s Church in Baltimore, where he conducts the professional St. David’s Choir, directs the volunteer and children’s choruses, oversees the Concert and Evensong series, coordinates the Ensemble-in-Residence program, and directs the Baltimore Bach Marathon, a Charm City tradition now in its 42nd year. Previously he served as Director of Music at Historic Old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church—where he conducted the St. Paul’s Choir of Men and Boys, the second oldest choir of its kind in the nation under his tenure—and prior to that served at St. Mark’s-on-the-Hill Episcopal Church. In February 2014 he conducted the opening performance for the American Choral Directors Association’s Eastern Division Conference; he has also been named three times as Music Director for the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. He is in frequent demand as a clinician, and has led workshops for ACDA Voices United, The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. Recent performance highlights as an organist and pianist include presenting J.S. Bach’s Aria with Diverse Variations (“Goldberg”) on the Baltimore Bach Marathon, recitals at the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, the Church of the Epiphany (D.C.) Concert Series, Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, and the Washington National Cathedral.

Buchanan is fortunate to have many opportunities to sing with and accompany his wife, Kelly, a mezzo-soprano, and also enjoys microtonal interspecies improvisation with his black lab, Grover.