Jerry M. Owen, (b. 1944) is the Alma A. Turechek Professor Emeritus of Music at Coe College. Holding the Ph.D. in composition (University of Iowa, 1974), he is retired from a 38-year-long teaching career. He holds the B.M.E. from the University of Evansville, and M.M. in composition from DePauw University. His principal composition teachers have been Richard Hervig, Peter Tod Lewis, and Donald H. White. In addition to conducting the Coe College Symphony Orchestra, he directed the music theory/composition area at Coe and served as the music department technologist. He has performed as a pianist in chamber music recitals as well as a jazz pianist in small groups and big band, and has also taught in the areas of jazz, world music, music technology, and low brass studio.
The founder of the Composer-in-residence position with Red Cedar Chamber Music, Dr. Owen served in that capacity from 2002-05, producing three new chamber music works, two for the flute, guitar and viola, and one with double bass in place of the viola. Both his Trio Concertant Over Czech Folk Songs and Gypsy Inspirations were premiered at the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and performed in an exchange concert at the National Library of the Czech Republic in Prague. The Red Cedar Chamber Music entourage toured the Czech Republic in October of 2004 playing those two trios in Prague and Brno. Dr. Owen was Composer-in-residence with the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra from 1984-92 and founder of the residency program there which has since seen six other composers occupy the position. Other tours of his music include a recent tour by the Murasaki Duo of his cello and piano work Mr. Raggity’s Sublime Dance to colleges and universities in the eastern United States. The Murasaki Duo has also toured his Suite of Colors to colleges in the Midwest. Mezzo soprano Ann Cravero has included his Four Songs on Poems of Ann Struthers in a recent tour with pianist Miko Kominami.
He has had many awards and special performances given his music, including two Pulitzer Prize nominations, two Grawenmeyer prize nominations, two performances by the late Howard Hanson at his Festival of American Music, the Iowa Arts Council prize for symphonic music, and two full-length Iowa Public Television specials devoted to his symphony, Dances of the Mind, and to his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, a performance featuring pianist Bruce Brubaker. His Iowa Sesquicentennial composition, Meshquanowat’ (Red-tail Hawk), was awarded the Iowa Composers Forum Francis J. Pyle Commission award for 1995, and toured throughout the Sesquicentennial year by Red Cedar Chamber Music. Orchestra Iowa’s Music Director Maestro Timothy Hankewich honored Dr. Owen by re-opening the flood damaged and restored Paramount Theater in Cedar Rapids with his concert overture Glee in September of 2012. Among his many commissions for new works are those by the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra (3), Cedar Rapids Concert Chorale (2), Coe College (3), Mount Mercy College, the Iowa Composers Forum, Red Cedar Chamber Music (5), Linn-Mar High School, and Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School. The Iowa String Teacher’s Association in conjunction with the Iowa Composers Forum and the Cedar Rapids Symphony School awarded Dr. Owen a commission to write a work for full orchestra entitled Glisten! premiered by the Iowa High School Honor Orchestra at the ISTA/IBA (Iowa Bandmasters Association) convention in Des Moines in May, 2006, a concert which he conducted. The Murasaki Duo (Eric Kutz, cello and Miko Kominami, piano) commissioned Mr. Raggity’s Sublime Dance for their tour of eastern U.S. colleges and Universities in 2013. The work was later featured at the Malibu, CA, Music Festival at the Newman home.
He is a composer of vocal, choral, symphonic, chamber, and electronic/computer music. His music is published by Southern Music Company, Cimarron Music Press, Acoma-Nambe Music Publishers (Canada), Carl Fischer / Pembroke, Inc., and his own company, Indian Hill Road Music. Centaur Records has released a compact disc of Dr. Owen’s music entitled Intimate Dances (CRC 2233). His Hidden Tango was superbly recorded by Red Cedar Chamber Music on Fleur de Son Classics (FDS 57960), entitled Red Cedar Collection. In January, 2006, Fleur de Son released another CD of his music recorded by Red Cedar Chamber Music entitled Czech Inspired (FDS 57974) engineered by Grammy-nominated recordist Peter Nothnagle. Also engineered by Mr. Nothnagle, Fleur de Son released the third CD of Owen’s music, Soundscapes of the Heartland (FDS 57984), November 1st , 2007. In 2009, the notable British guitarist Richard Hand, along with flutist Jennifer Stinton, released their CD entitled Hidden Tango, named after Dr. Owen’s featured piece of the same title. Seattle’s Duo Rubicund has also recorded Hidden Tango on their 2011 CD release, Imaginary Landscapes.
Having held the Chair of the Iowa Composers Forum (1992-94), he presided over seven-fold growth in membership in the Forum, the establishment of the multiple-day Annual Festival of Music by Iowa Composers held on a different Iowa college or university campus each year, a significant increase in the number of composer activities in the State, a successful grant-writing program in support of the Forum, and a remarkable growth in the public’s awareness of composers and new music in Iowa and a commensurate increase in the number of performances of music by Iowa composers by established Iowa musical organizations. In 2013 he again accepted the position of Chair of the Iowa Composers Forum. He is now immediate past Chair. He continues as Membership Coordinator of the I.C.F.
He has been active in the production of new music concerts since 1975 and was a leader in presenting contemporary classical music to Iowa audiences for the last 30 plus years. In November of 2004 he presented a third retrospective concert of his works at Coe College’s Sinclair Auditorium featuring the premiere by Takuya Horiuchi and Miko Kominami of Owen’s Dance Moments (suite) for violin and piano; and performances by Red Cedar Chamber Music, cellist Carey Bostian, and dramatic soprano Rosanne Duncombe-Elliott. In March of 2015 Dr. Owen presented the fourth in the series of concerts of his music. Performers for that program included an all-star roster of chamber music performers from Orchestra Iowa and college faculties in eastern Iowa, including flutist Jan Boland, flutist Harvey Sollberger, bassist Volkan Orhon, pianist Miko Kominami, and mezzo soprano Ann Cravero. The fifth in this series will be presented as a part of the annual Coe College Keyboard Festival, representing an expansion of the festival by an additional day, on February 2nd, 2020. As many as six Iowa artist pianists will perform an assortment of major piano works composed between 1964 and 2017.
In his final year of college teaching (2005-06), no fewer than nine works by Dr. Owen were presented by the student ensembles of Coe College. These included a commission by the Beta Kappa chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia for jazz band, a symphonic overture, a set of solo variations for the euphonium and concert band, a set of a capella S.A.T.B. chorales, and chamber works. In a January 2006 concert entitled Tribute! the Red Cedar Trio performed a concert of works written for them by Dr. Owen. The Fleur de Son Classics compact disc Czech Inspired was released on this occasion. Following his retirement from Coe, a library archive of his music was established in the Stewart Memorial Library on Coe’s campus. Contents of the archive to date include paper copies of all of his music not already listed in other holdings of the library. Digital recordings and computer notation files are prospective additions to the collection.
A Triumph Song – SATB$2.10
Agnus Dei – SATB$2.95
Alba – Organ$9.95
All Hail, Adored Trinity – SATB$2.05
Allegro Scherzando – Organ Solo$9.99
Alleluia – SATB$1.95
American Folk-Hymn Settings For Organ – Organ$18.95
An Old English Prayer – SATB$1.95
Angels We Have Heard On High – Brass Parts$25.00
Angels We Have Heard On High – SATB$2.45
Be Strong In The Lord – SATB$1.95
Behold The Lamb Of God – SATB$2.10
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