Dr. J.A. Kawarsky (b. 1959) is Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, NJ. Dr. Kawarsky received his B.M. in composition from Iowa State University and his M.M. and D.M.A. from Northwestern University. At Northwestern he studied with John Paynter, Alan Stout and Frederick Ockwell. In 1982, Dr. Kawarsky conducted the Opera Company of the Negev Region in Be’er Sheva, Israel. Before coming to Westminster in 1989, he taught at Fort Hays State University, the University of Wisconsin, and Moraine Valley Community College.
A well-known coach and director/conductor in the theater world, Dr. Kawarsky conducted the 2007 national tour of Peter Pan and prepared the music for the 2nd national tour of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He has been a music director at Stagedoor Manor, French Woods, Harand Camp for the Arts, Long Lake Camp of the Arts in New York, as well as for the Franklin Theatre Works of Clinton, NJ.
He was the founding conductor of the New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus (Delaware Valley Men’s Chorus), and has also served as conductor of the Lehigh Valley Gay Men’s Chorus, Voices Chorale and was chosen to conduct Sing for the Cure for the Komen Foundation National Conference in 2002, and transcribe a new/reduced orchestration of the work.
As a composer, he has written for all genres including solo instrument, orchestra, band, choral, vocal and theater. Recently, he received his 13th Composer Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). His 40-minute composition Prayers for Bobby for choir, orchestra, narrator and soloists, has received numerous performances throughout the United States and Canada and was recorded by the New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus and members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC. Dr. Kawarsky has been commissioned by numerous ensembles for original works and arrangements. In October of 2006, he was awarded the Outstanding Alumnus award from Iowa State University and was presented with a premiere of a new work for wind ensemble and alto saxophone solo, Fastidious Notes. In 2009, 17 universities throughout the United States commissioned him to compose a new symphonic band work. The resulting composition, Red Training Reels, was premiered in the September 2010. From 2010-2014, Dr. Kawarsky collaborated with lyricist/librettist Francine M. Gordon on the cantata Sacred Rights, Sacred Song, for choir, narrator and chorus and has been performed throughout the USA and Israel. Three movements from Sacred Rights, Sacred Song have been translated and will be performed and recorded this coming November in Havana, Cuba. The Five Step Program for the Encore Vocal Arts of Indianapolis was commissioned and premiered in 2016. His choral work Unending Love was commissioned by the New Jersey Choral Group Sharim v’Sharot and was premiered in May 2016, and was subsequently recorded by Clarum Sonum as part of the Westminster Composer’s Project. Recently the Moravian Philharmonic recorded his symphonic work And We All Waited… having been premiered by Wichita State University. His composition for piano and orchestra Episodes was recorded with Peter Laul, piano and the St. Petersburg State Philharmonic conducted by Vladimir Lande and released this past spring on Navona Recordings (Naxos). Most recently, Parma recorded his work Grace Dances for string Quartet and Oboe in Havana, Cuba which is to be released this autumn by Navona, and his Fastidious Notes for saxophone and orchestra was recorded in Chicago in May, 2017 by the Chicago Arts Ensemble with Jonathan Helton, saxophone. Recently he completed a new accompaniment to the Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes to be premiered and recorded in Spring 2018 by the University of Arizona and members of the Tucson Symphony. Recently Dr. Kawarsky recorded a commission from the Siberian State Philharmonic, Charlottesville: 12 August 2017. His latest work Charlottesville: 12 August 2017 for chamber orchestra and mezzo-soprano is to be recorded in the autumn of 2012. His music is published by Yelton Rhodes Music, Transcontinental Music, Southern Music, G.I.A. and T.U.X. People's Music.