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Brian Coughlin

New York, NY      

Described by Tom Manoff of NPR as “a talented and interesting composer… possessing something that cannot be taught: a real gift for melody,” and by the New Music Connoisseur as “composing music like great Beatles standards. Captivating, but impossible to pin down,” Brian is known for his eclectic output for ensembles ranging from The Eugene Opera, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and The Berkshire Symphony to popular and jazz groups such as the Pacific Rim Gamelan, The Island Breeze Steel Band, and the rock band Oneida. Brian’s music has been performed at major venues throughout the United States including Carnegie Hall, The Lied Center of Kansas, and the Library of Congress, and has been featured on Minnesota Public Radio, NBC’s “The 10! Show,” and used to accompany fashion shows by Vogue Fashion Award-winners Trovata and Philip Lim. Recent composition awards include the League of Composers/ISCM Award, the Bakersfield Symphony New Directions Composition Competition, and the Long Island Arts Council Composition Competition.

In addition to his work as a composer, Brian has performed hundreds of concerts throughout the United States as a versatile double- and electric bassist in venues ranging from venerable classical music institutions such as the Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, to prominent jazz venues such as the Saratoga Jazz Festival, to major rock clubs such as Toad’s Place in New Haven. He has performed as a soloist with the Berkshire Symphony, and has premiered over fifty new solo works written for him.

Brian is perhaps best known, however, as the director and bassist of the New York new music ensemble, Fireworks (www.fireworksensemble.org). Founded with the goal of creating a single, small ensemble capable of representing the full scope of today’s musical diversity, Fireworks combines the talents of classically-trained but musically omnivorous young virtuosi who can play just about anything, regardless of style, time period, or instrumentation. Since 2000, Coughlin has written extensively for Fireworks, composing or arranging a majority of the ensemble’s repertoire, and producing at least one major new project for the group each season. In her review of the group’s sold-out portrait concert of Frank Zappa in New York, Anne Midgette of the New York Times wrote “Brian Coughlin, Fireworks’ director and bass player, produced some hell-for-leather arrangements that the players, now relaxed and grooving, played the heck out of, down to show-stopping solos in “The Purple Lagoon/Approximate.” Finally labels did indeed cease to matter: this was just music, and it sounded like music to keep.”

Brian holds both a Master of Music degree in Composition from the University of Oregon and a Master of Music degree in Double Bass Performance from the Hartt School, and is currently completing his DMA at the CUNY Graduate Center, where he studies with David Del Tredici. His teachers have included Robert Black and Milt Hinton (bass), and David Kechley, Robert Kyr, and George Tsontakis (composition).

Brian Coughlin: Sextet

performed by Fireworks Ensemble

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Brian Coughlin: Lux Aeterna (from “Requiem”)

performed by Chorus Angelicus and Gaudeamus

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Brian Coughlin: Moto Perpetuo (from “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”)

performed by the CUNY Graduate Center Orchestra; Eileen Clark, soprano

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