Composer Jonathan Booker seeks to engage performers and listeners with honesty, originality, and craftsmanship.
His music is intrinsically modern, drawing on the social and political conditions of urban life, environmentalism, visual arts, and the physical and psychological boundaries of musical performance. Yet at the same time, it is rooted in and dialogues with history; each new work being the result of exhaustive listening and study.
Mr. Booker has fulfilled commissions for a variety of organizations, including the AURA Contemporary Ensemble, Da Camera Chamber Music and Jazz, Houston Grand Opera's HGOco and the Flute Studio at the Lamont School of Music. He is also the winner of the 2014-15 Sarofim Composition Award and has been recognized by such organizations as the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, the Robert Avalon International Competition for Composers, the Other Competition at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music and the Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society.
He is currently pursuing a D.M.A. in composition from the University of Missouri-Kansas City where he studies with Chen Yi and Zhou Long. He earned a master's degree in composition under the guidance of Rob Smith at the University of Houston's Moores School of Music, having previously received his bachelor's degree at Seattle Pacific University. Mr. Booker is a fellow at the 2017 Composers Conference at Wellesley College where he will work with Mario Davidovsky, Yu-Hui Chang and Eric Wubbels, and will compose a new work to be performed by the Conference Ensemble directed by James Baker. He will also attend the 13th Annual Thailand International Composition Festival 2017 directed by Narong Prangcharoen, and has previously attended the 2017 Bowling Green University Graduate Conference in Music and the 2014 Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium with Composer-in-Residence Chen Yi. He has presented his music at master classes by Samuel Adler, Daniel Asia and Gabriela Lena Frank, and has attended others by Jennifer Higdon, John Coolidge Adams, David Lang, Vijay Iyer, Gabriela Ortiz, and Huong Ruo.
In addition to composing, Mr. Booker is active in education and the community. Beginning with the 2017/18 school year, he will be the Composition Graduate Teaching Assistant at UMKC, where he will instruct first and second year undergraduate composers. He has previously served as a Teaching Artist for UMKC’s Conservatory in the Schools program, as well as a Teaching Assistant in the Moores School of Music, where he instructed undergraduate theory and aural skills classes. Mr. Booker was also a fellow for two seasons in Da Camera's prestigious Young Artist Program, which enabled him to partner with Literacy Advance of Houston to design and implement Literacy Through Music, an initiative that used music to teach literacy to adult ESL students.
Two principles that guide my creativity are progress and transformation. As I construct works of music, I constantly think about where it is going and how the music, the listener and myself are changed by this journey. I also value craftsmanship and endeavor to make every musical event purposeful and functional, often on several levels at once. Above all, I aspire for my art to be honest; to express ideas, emotions and experiences, whether they be sublime or abhorrent, that are true to human existence.
Amongst the most important practices for any musician are the analysis of music and the study of the historical and philosophical contexts in which it exists. As an inventor and performer of music, I believe that creative efforts should always work in conjunction with scholarly efforts in order to enhance the technical dexterity and enrich the aesthetic consciousness of the creator. As such, I am steadfastly committed to musical scholarship and will continue to be so throughout my musical career.
I have been fortunate to benefit from the instruction of several very skilled and dedicated educators and I too desire to contribute to the field of music in this way. Education is one of the most empowering resources in life and I believe that it should be administered with expertise, passion and humility, and should focus on leveraging strengths rather than minimizing weaknesses. Musical instruction is most effective when it inspires students in addition to preparing them for academic and professional success.