01 Jun Artist Highlight – Ken Davies
Having studied music at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Yale University, Ken Davies also holds an M.A. in trombone from Middle Tennessee State University at Murfreesboro and an M.M. in composition from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
During the 1970s, he was a full-time trombonist with Gabriel’s Brass, a 12-piece jazz-rock show band based in Orlando, Florida, often appearing at Walt Disney World. He also worked as a commercial arranger and session producer for nationally broadcast record and television projects including two TV Christmas specials that syndicated on 125 television stations in 1980.
Since 2002, he has resided in Gautier, Mississippi where he teaches brass instruments privately, and runs his publishing company, Kenvad Music. His composed works include acoustic and electronic pieces ranging from songs and chamber music to orchestral and choral works that have been performed nationally at prestigious new music festivals sponsored by academically esteemed organizations like Society of Composers, Southeastern Composers League, Electronic Music Midwest, Electroacoustic Barn Dance, Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers, Parma Music Festival, National Association of Composeers USA, International Trombone Festival, and various concerts here and abroad.
Honors include annual ASCAP awards, the Mississippi Performing Artist Fellowship in Composition for 2006-2007 and 2012-2013, grants from Mississippi Arts Commission and a listing on the Mississippi Artist Roster. His Three Pieces for bass trombone and piano won the 2009 Eastern Trombone Workshop National Composition Competition sponsored by the United States “Pershing’s Own” Army Band. He was invited by the Mississippi Music Teachers’ Association to be their 2013 commissioned composer.
More recently, he collaborated with his poet wife Judy to create a CD of poetic soundscapes featuring narrated poetry and electronic music. They have presented music-and-poetry workshops to literary groups and selections from their CD have been included in significant electronic music festivals.
When at work in their home studio, their studio cats Little Fluff and Darius Meow supervise each piece of new music.
As a child, how did music affect you?
Early on, music was a sound exploration thing for me. It was artistic discovery, though I didn’t know it as such at the time. Eventually it became obvious that it was my best talent/skill.
Do you think music is important in schools?
Music is critical in schools. Our ears and audio brains were designed for so much more than telephones, car horns and idle chatter. Music playing and listening develop brain capacities in ways no other activity can.
Tell us about how music steered you to Mississippi?
Having lived for years in Orlando, Nashville, and Denver, I was talked into considering Mississippi by a long-term lady friend/musician who lived here. We found the Mississippi Arts Commission to be vibrant and helpful to artists, so I transferred my music creation and publishing/production activity here.
What’s next for Ken Davies, the composer?
Having achieved “award-winning” status in various areas of concert and computer electronic music, I plan more of the same. I also want to interest the business community in considering me for creating the sounds that help promote and sell their products and services.
“The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center will be a welcome and beautiful contribution to our state. Not only will it draw tourists but it will surely make Mississippians more aware of how much the arts contribute to our lives.”