N.E.O. Voice Festival, Ensemble Director
David Harris specializes in new music, American music, and the intricacies of communication in singing and conducting. Through innovation, performance, and research, David enlivens community through the power of music. Having been called the “Thomas Edison of vocal music” by those close to him, and “one of the most compelling conductors in America”, his favorite accolade comes from a New Year’s Eve Bostonian who casually offered that he “looks like a guy who could wear suede in the rain and not get wet.” An advocate of new music, David has premiered hundreds of pieces for vocal and instrumental ensembles, and for the theater. He shares his creative passion with the composers, performers and audiences who bring life to new work, guiding them in the unique discovery of self found in new composition.
A composer/performer himself, David writes in varied styles, and enjoys exploring those elements that communicate most directly to people. Recent compositions have included new approaches to illuminating harmonics (e.g. overtones) in vocal music, rhythmic and textural layering, structured improvisation, contrasting resonant strategies, and crisp simplicity. Songwriting is a daily, and often jocular, practice, akin to his love of gardening (the unmatched joy of a fresh blackberry or tomato). His love of new music invigorates his passion for music of other generations. By integrating historical practice, ornamentation, meaning, and emotional context into contemporary understanding he opens doors into historic music, inviting it off of the museum shelf and into fresh existence.
David has created or revitalized over a dozen ensembles in his career, often through important collaboration with others. Career highlights of these ensembles include the Mostly Baroque Players, Jubilate, Triad, C3LA, the Young Men’s Ensemble of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, the choirs at College of the Holy Cross, The Columbia University Glee Club, The Brearley Singers and Chamber Orchestra, The LidaBros barbershop quartet, Laude, the Commonwealth Community Chorus, and the Cathedral Choir at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, which is one of the coolest collections of people to work with in one awe-inspiring place. Living in Los Angeles, David is the co-founder and director of VoiceScienceWorks and one of the principal authors of the website and of various publications. Together with his partner, Laurel Irene, he helps vocalists learn to translate difficult voice science into immediately applicable tools. Voice science, though, is much more of a personal pursuit, and includes daily tinkering and expanding vocal opportunities in measured steps.