Critic Royal S. Brown, writing in High Fidelity magazine in 1974, called Dan Welcher “one of the most promising American composers I have heard”. Welcher has been steadily fulfilling that promise ever since. With over one hundred works to his credit, more than half of which are published and recorded, Welcher has written in virtually every medium, including opera, concerto, symphony, wind ensemble, vocal literature, piano solos, and various kinds of chamber music.
Dan Welcher has won numerous awards and prizes from institutions such as the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, The Reader's Digest/Lila Wallace foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Meet The Composer, the MacDowell Colony, The Camargo Foundation (Cassis, France), the Liguria Study Center (Bogliasco, Italy) the Bellagio Center (Bellagio, Italy), The Corporation at Yaddo, The Atlantic Center for the Arts, the American Music Center, and ASCAP. From 1990 to 1993, he was Composer in Residence with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra (Donald Johanos, Music Director). His orchestral music has been performed by more than sixty orchestras, including the BBC Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, and the Dallas Symphony. Recent works include The Yellow Wallpaper, an opera in one act to which Welcher wrote the libretto himself, based on the famous short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, for mezzo-soprano Lucy Schaufer, Upriver, the latest in a series of popular works for band inspired by the American West, and his third String Quartet (written for the Cassatt Quartet and premiered in Chicago in March of 2008). His Symphony No. 5, commissioned for the Austin Symphony Orchestra to inaugurate its new concert hall, premiered on May 1 and 2 of 2009; it received the Austin Critics Table Award 1st Prize for Outstanding Original Composition for that season.
A much sought-after speaker who is known for making contemporary music intelligible to lay listeners, Welcher hosted a weekly radio program called "Knowing The Score" on KMFA-FM in Austin from 1999 to 2009. This program won the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for Excellence in Classical Broadcasting. He now hosts the weekly program “From The Butler School of Music” on Saturday evenings at 8:00 on KMFA. Dan Welcher holds the Lee Hage Jamail Regents Professorship in Fine Arts at the Butler School of Music (The University of Texas at Austin), where he directs the New Music Ensemble.
All the Words to All the Songs for Flute and Piano (1996) -- 7’ Published: #164-00229 Commission Information: Nancy Andrew, in memory of Vinson Hammond Premiere Information: August 15, 1996, National Flute Association Convention, New York City; Nancy Andrew, Flute; Clinton Adams, Piano • Recordings
Chameleon Music for Ten Percussionists (1987) Available From University of Oklahoma Percussion Press
Dante Dances for Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra -- 13' Solo Clarinet; 1 1 0 1 – 1 0 0 0; Pno. Perc. Str.5tet Premiere Information: 25th March, 2008. Richard MacDowell/solo Clarinet, University of Texas New Music Ensemble, Dan Welcher conducting; Bates Recital Hall, University of Texas at Austin. Additional Information: Available from the Rental Library
Movements: • I. Introduction: The Gates of Hell • II. Tango (for Charon) • III. Charleston (for Cerberus) • IV. Polka (for the Furies) • V. Gymnopédie (for Paolo & Francesca) • VI. Schottische (for Ulysses) • VII. Tarantella (for Gianni Schinni)
Dante Dances for Clarinet and Piano (1995) -- 13’ Published: #164-00256 Premiere Information: Bradley Wong, Clarinet; Phyllis Rappaport, Piano
Movements: • I. Introduction: Gates of Hell • II. Tango (for Charon) • III. Charleston (for Cerberus) • IV. Polka (for the Furies) • V. Gymnopédie (for Paolo & Francesca) • VI. Schottishe (for Ulysses) • VII. Tarantella (for Gianni Schinni)
Evening Scenes: Three Poems of James Agee for Tenor and Chamber Ensemble (1985) -- 16' Tenor, Fl. Cl. Pno. Perc. Vln. Vcl. Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: Commissioned by tenor Paul Sperry. Premiere Information: 27th January, 1986. Paul Sperry, Tenor, Voices of Change ensemble, Dallas, TX.
Movements: • 1. In Memory of My Father • 2. The Storm • 3. A Lullabye
Spirit Realms (Three Meditations) for Flute (dbl. Piccolo & Alto Flute) and Percussion (1996) -- 12’ Published: #164-00248 Premiere Information: March 2, 1997, Penn State University by The Armstrong Duo • Recordings
Full Score - Large (#164-00248S)
Stigma for Solo Contrabass and Piano (1990) Available From Composer
String Quartet No. 1 (1988) -- 28’ Published: #164-00196 Commission Information: National Endowment for the Arts, for the Cleveland Quartet Premiere Information: May 11, 1988, Cleveland Quartet, Metropolitan Museum of Art • Recordings • Reviews
Set of parts (#164-00196P) Full Score - Large (#164-00196S)
Teaching the Wind to Sing Fantasy after Robert Frost for woodwind quintet (2008) -- 7' Commission Information: Commissioned by the Chamber Music Conference and Composers Forum of the Northeast, 2008 Premiere Information: August 9, 2008 at Bennington College, Vermont
The Moerae Fantasy for flute, oboe, clarinet, and piano (10') -- 2006 Commission Information: Commissioned in celebration of Dean Robert Freeman’s retirement from the College of Fine Arts, University of Texas
The Wind Won't Listen Fantasy for Bassoon and String Quartet (2002) -- 15' Published: #164-00261 Commission Information: Steven Dibner, bassoonist. Premiere Information: August 16, 2003; Steven Dibner, bassoon, Euclid Quartet; Aspen Music Festival, Aspen, CO
Movements: • 1. Romanza "Everyone I Know is Crying" • 2. Recitative and Variations "Life makes itself without us"
Arches An Impression for Concert Band (1984) -- 9’ Available from the Presser Rental Library Additional Information: Available Separately:
Full Score - Study (#465-00009)
Full Score - Large (#465-00009L)
Castle Creek Overture for Band (1989) -- 5’ Available from the Presser Rental Library Additional Information: Arranged for Band by Paul Bissell.
Original version for Orchestra also available.
Circular Marches for Large Wind Ensemble (1997) -- 9' Part of Symphony No. 3 "Shaker Life" for Concert Band 5(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 5(EbCl., B.Cl.) 3(CBn.) - 4 4 4 1; S.Sx., A.Sx., T.Sx., Bar. Sx., Timp. 5 Perc., Euph., Cb., Pno. Available from the Presser Rental Library Premiere Information: March, 1998, Air Force Band Additional Information: Movement No. 2 from Symphony No. 3 "Shaker Life"
Full Score - Study (#465-00003) Full Score - Large (#465-00003L)
Glacier for Large Wind Ensemble (2004) -- 10' Picc. 2Fl. 2Ob. E.H. E(Cl. 3B(Cl. B.Cl. 2Bsn. Cbsn. SATBSax. 4Hn. 3Tpt. 3Tbn. Euph. Tu. Timp. 5Perc. Pno. Str.Bass Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: Commissioned by the Southeastern Conference Band Directors Association Premiere Information: 17th February 2004, University of Georgia Wind Ensemble, conducted by John Culvahouse Additional Information: Published: #465-00012 (score)
Laboring Songs for Large Wind Ensemble (1997) -- 10' Part of Symphony No. 3 "Shaker Life" for Concert Band 5(Picc.) 3 (E.H.) 5(EbCl., B.Cl.) 3(CBn.) - 4 4 4 1; S.Sx., A.Sx., T.Sx., Bar.Sx., Timp., 5 Perc., Euph., Cb., Pno. Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: A consortium of three high school band programs in Texas: The Colony, L.D. Bell, and Duncansville High Schools. Premiere Information: December 18, 1998; The Colony High School Wind Symphony, Jerry Junkin, conductor; Chicago, IL Additional Information: Movement No. 1 from Symphony No. 3 "Shaker Life"
Full Score - Study (#465-00001)
Minstrels of the Kells for Concert Band (2002) -- 15' 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 5(EbCl., B.Cl.) 3(CBn.) - 3 4 4 1; S.Sx., A.Sx., T.Sx., Bar.Sx., Euph., Timp., 4 Perc., Cb., Pno. Available from the Presser Rental Library
Full Score - Study (#465-00002) Full Score - Large (#465-00002L)
Perpetual Song for Band (2000) -- 8' 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(CBn.) 4(B.Cl.) 0 - 4 4 3(B.Tbn.) 1; S.Sx., A.Sx., T.Sx., Bar. Sx., Timp., 4 Perc., Euph., Cb. Available from the Presser Rental Library Additional Information: For the United States Military Academy Band at West Point
Published: #465-00008 (score)
Songs Without Words Five Mood Pieces for Wind Ensemble (2001) -- 15' 3(Picc.) 2 4(B. Cl.) 3(BCn./Cb.Cl.) - 4 3 3 1; 2A.Sax., T.Sax., Bar.Sax., Euph., 4 Perc., Timp., Cb., Pno., Cel. Available from the Presser Rental Library • Recordings
Full Score - Study (#465-00005) Full Score - Large (#465-00005L)
Spumante for Wind Ensemble (1999) -- 7’ Available from the Presser Rental Library Premiere Information: January 25, 2000, Myerson Symphony Center by the Dallas Wind Symphony, Kevin Sedatole, conductor Additional Information: Arranged for Band by Paul Bissell.
Full Score - Study (#465-00004) Full Score - Large (#465-00004L)
Symphony No. 3 "Shaker Life" for Concert Band -- 19' Premiere Information: Complete Work: April 21, 1998; Dallas Wind Symphony. Additional Information: Movements may be played separately.
Movements: • I. Laboring Songs • II. Circular Marches
Full Score - Study (#465-00006) Full Score - Large (#465-00006L)
The Yellowstone Fires for Wind Ensemble (1988) -- 8’ 4(2Picc.)-2(E.H.)-6(E-flat Cl.; B.Cl.)-2(Cbsn.)-4Sax.(SATB); 6-4-5(1Euph.)-3; Timp., 5Perc., Pno. Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: Jerry Junkin, for the University of Texas Wind Ensemble Additional Information: Available Separately:
Full Score - Study (#465-00010)
Full Score - Large (#465-00010L)
Upriver for Wind Ensemble (2010) -- 14' Solo Fiddle; 2Picc. 2Fl. 2Ob. E.H. EbCl. 3BbCl. B.Cl. 2Bsn. Cbsn. SATBSax. - 4Hn. 3Tpt. 3Tbn. Euph. Tu.; Timp. 5Perc. Hp. Str.Bass Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: Upriver was commissioned by a consortium of College Band Directors, and is dedicated to Dr. Timothy A. Paul, who spearheaded the commission Premiere Information: March 6th, 2011. University of Oregon Wind Ensemble, conducted by Timothy Paul; Eugene, OR. Additional Information: Published: #465-00013 (study score), #465-00013L (large score)
Zion (1994) -- 10’ Published: #165-00092 Premiere Information: University of Texas at Arlington Wind Ensemble, conducted by Ray C. Lichtenwalter, February 9, 1994 Additional Information: Winner of 1996 Ostwald Prize.
Version for Orchestra also available. • Recordings • Reviews
Full Score - Study (#165-00092F) Full Score - Large (#165-00092L) Set of parts (#165-00092P)
The Birth of Shiva for Solo Piano (1999) -- 10'30" Published: #160-00219 Premiere Information: October 31, 1999 by James Dick, piano, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC Additional Information: Based on themes from Piano Concerto ("Shiva’s Drum") • Reviews
Della's Gift Opera in Two Acts (1986) -- 69’ 1(d. Picc.) 1 2 1 – 2 2 1 0; Perc. Pno./Cel. Hp. Str.(min. 6 5 4 3 2); Cast: Sop. 3Mezz. 3Ten. Bar. Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: University of Texas Opera Theater Premiere Information: February 26, 1987, Opera Lab Theater, University of Texas, Austin, TX, Dan Welcher, conductor Additional Information: Libretto by Paul Woodruff, after "Gifts of the Magi" by O Henry May be performed with two pianos – piano-vocal score is playable by a single pianist, except in one orchestral interlude written for two pianos.
Published: piano/vocal score #462-00033 (custom print) • Reviews
Holy Night Opera in three scenes and an epilogue. -- 60' 1 1 2 1 - 2 2 1 0; Perc. Hp. Pno./Cel. Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Premiere Information: 24th, 26th, 29th April, 1st May, 2005. University of Texas Opera Theater (Austin), conducted by Dan Welcher, directed by Robert DeSimone. Additional Information: Cast: Lyric Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Lyric Tenor, Lyric Baritone, Bass-baritone
Published: piano/vocal score #462-00034 (custom print)
Yellow Wallpaper, The Opera in One Act after "The Yellow Wall-Paper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman -- 85' Mezzo-soprano or Dramatic Soprano, off-stage Soprano; 1(d.Picc.) 1(d.E.H.) 1 1 – 1 1 0 0; 1Perc. Pno./Syn. Hp. Str.(min.1 1 1 1 1; pref. 4 4 3 2 1) Available from the Presser Rental Library Additional Information: Libretto by the composer
Beyond Sight a Tone Poem after Plato for Orchestra (1999) -- 13’ 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(d.B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) - 4 3 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Hp. Str.; opt. spoken introduction. Available from the Presser Rental Library Additional Information: With spoken introduction translated and paraphrased by Paul Woodruff.
Bright Wings Valediction for Large Orchestra (1996) -- 14’ 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) - 4 4 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Pno. Cel. Hp. Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: Andrew Litton and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Premiere Information: Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Litton, Music Director; March 13, 1997, Eugene McDermott Concert Hall, Dallas, TX • Reviews
Castle Creek Fanfare/Overture for Large Orchestra (1989) -- 5’ 3-2-2-3; 4-3-3-1; Timp., 4Perc., Pno., Hp., Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Additional Information: Fanfare may be performed separately; brass and percussion only (1’30”).
Alternate arrangement of Overture is also available for Band • Recordings
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra "Shiva's Drum" (1993-94) -- 34’ Solo Piano; 3 2 2 3 - 4 3 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Solo Pno. Hp. Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: James Dick and the Festival Institute at Round Top, Texas Premiere Information: June 11, 1994, James Dick, piano. Texas Festival Orchestra, Pascal Verrot, conductor
Solo Part with Piano Reduction (#460-00095) Solo Part (#460-00095P)
Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra (2004) Solo Timpani; 3 3 3 3 - 4 3 3 1; 4Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: Commissioned by the Utah Symphony for George Brown. Premiere Information: October 7th, 8th, 9th 2004. George Brown, Timpani, Utah Symphony, conducted by Keith Lockhart; Salt Lake City (7th, 9th) and Ogden, UT (8th).
Movements: • I. Marching • II. Mourning • III. Dancing
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1993) -- 25’ Solo Violin; 3 2 2 2 - 2 2 1 0; Timp. 3Perc. Pno. Hp., Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: Aspen Music Festival, in honor of the 75th birthday of Dorothy DeLay Additional Information: Available Separately:
Solo Part with Piano Reduction (#164-00223)
Full Score - Study (#465-00040)
Full Score - Large (#465-00040L)
Movements: • I. Games and Songs • II. March, Quickstep, and Duel • III. Lullabye and Tarantella
Dervishes Ritual Dance Scene for Orchestra (1976) -- 10'30" 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) - 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Hp. Pno.(Cel.) Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Premiere Information: April 15, 1977, Louisville Orchestra, Jorge Mester, conductor • Recordings • Reviews
Haleakala: How Maui Snared the Sun for Narrator and Orchestra (1991) -- 23’ 3 3 3 3 - 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra through the Meet the Composer Orchestra Residency program Premiere Information: Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, Donald Johanos, conductor, Richard Chamberlain, narrator, September 15, 1991 • Recordings • Reviews
Full Score - Study (#466-00030)
Jackpot A Celebratory Overture for Full Orchestra (2005) -- 6'30" 3 (Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) - 4 3 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: Commissioned by the Las Vegas Philharmonic, Harold Leighton Weller, Music Director, for the centennial celebration of the City of Las Vegas Premiere Information: 17th September, 2005. Las Vegas Philharmonic, conducted by Harold Weller, Artemus W. Ham Hall, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Night Watchers (Symphony No. 2) for Large Orchestra (1994) -- 25’ 3-3-3-3; 4-3-3-1; Timp., 4Perc., Pno.(Cel.), Hp., Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: Flagstaff Transition Foundation Premiere Information: November 9, 1994, Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, Harold Weller, conductor
Movements: • Music of the Spheres • Putting Up The Stars • The Delight of God • Twilight of the Dawn
Spumante Festive Overture for Large Orchestra (1998) -- 6'30" 3 3 3 3 - 4 4 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Premiere Information: May 6, 1998 Boston Pops Orchestra, Keith Lockhart, conductor
Full Score - Study (#466-00036) Full Score - Large (#466-00036C) Full Score - Large (#466-00036L)
Symphony No. 1 for Orchestra (1992) -- 38’ 3 3 3 3 - 4 4 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Hp. Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Premiere Information: April 4, 1993, Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, Donald Johanos, conductor; Neil Blaisdell Concert Hall, Honolulu, HI • Reviews
Symphony No. 5 (2009) -- 38' 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(E(d.B.Cl.-1plyr.) A.Sax. 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Premiere Information: May 1st, 2nd, 2009. Austin Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Peter Bay, Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin, TX .
Movements: • I. Broadly • II. Scherzo • III. Strong and passionate • IV. Dancing
The Visions of Merlin for Orchestra (1980) -- 24’ 2 2 2 2 - 3 2 0 0; Timp. 3Perc. Pno. Cel. Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: Sunriver Music Festival Premiere Information: Sunriver Music Festival, Lawrence Smith, Music Director, August 23, 1980 Additional Information: Movements played without pause
Movements: • Epilogue: The Crystal Cave • Prologue: Merlin the Enchanter • Stonehenge: The Giants' Dance • The Red and White Dragons • The Sight, I • The Sight, II
Full Score - Large (#466-00029)
Venti di Mare (Sea Winds) Fantasy-Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra (1999) -- 24’ 2 0 1 1 - 2 0 0 0; Pno. Hp. Perc. Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Premiere Information: John Snow, oboist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Bay, conductor, on February 11, 1999
Movements: • I. Introduction: Calling the Winds • II. The Outbound Trades • III. Scirocco • IV. The Doldrums • V. Recalling the Winds • VI. The Homeward Trades
Zion for Orchestra (1999) -- 10’ 3 3 3 3 - 4 4 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Hp. Pno. Str. Available from the Presser Rental Library Premiere Information: September 24-25, 1999 Utah Symphony Orchestra, Keith Lockhart, conductor Additional Information: Original version available for Wind Ensemble
Abeja Blanca for Mezzo-Soprano, English Horn and Piano (1979) -- 13’ Published: #161-00070 Commission Information: Jan DeGaetani Premiere Information: 1979 Aldeburgh Festival, England Additional Information: Poem by Pablo Neruda (set in Spanish).
Full Score - Large (#161-00070S)
Canticle of the Sun for Mezzo-Soprano, Mixed Chorus and Organ (2000) -- 8’ Published: #362-03416 Premiere Information: March 27, 2000; Choir from Southern Methodist University, Constantina Tsonlainou; Virginia DuPuy, Mezzo-Soprano; Kenneth Hart, organ; Perkins School of Theology Chapel, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX
Enough for Baritone and Piano Available From Composer
JFK: The Voice of Peace an Oratorio for Orchestra, Chorus and Speakers (1999) -- 55’ 2(2d.Picc.)-2-2-2; 2-2-0-0; Timp., Perc., Pno., Hp., Str.; Solo Cello, SATB Chorus, 1 Male & 1 Female Speaker (from Chorus), Mezzo-Soprano (from chorus) or Boy Soprano Available from the Presser Rental Library Commission Information: New Heritage Music Foundation Premiere Information: March 19, 1999 Handel & Haydn Society, Daniel Beckwith, conductor, Boston, MA • Reviews
Leaves of Grass Published: #362-03417U Additional Information: On texts by Walt Whitman
Remembrance In Black And White for Mezzo-soprano, Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano and Percussion (2001) -- 15’ Available from the Presser Rental Library Premiere Information: Virginia DuPuy, Mezzo-soprano; Southwestern Chamber Players, Dan Welcher, conductor; Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas, September 28, 2002 Additional Information: Text by Christina Hutchins. • Reviews
Tickets for a Prayer Wheel for Baritone and Viola (1997) -- 13’ Published: #161-00078 Premiere Information: June 5, 1997 International Viola Congress, Austin, TX; Philip Larson, Baritone; Karen Elaine,Viola Additional Information: Poem by Annie Dillard.
"…a prolific and versatile Texas-based composer who's particularly known for his colorful scorings…[his] works show off his considerable contrapuntal ingenuity…well-made, idiomatically written, and canny in its use of unusual instrumental textures."
-Lehman, American record Guide
"…one of the cleverest composers writing, and certainly one of our master colorists."
-Piano & Keyboard
"…suave competence… he writes attractive music with a rich palette of colors, commanding technique — and a edge."
-James Roos, Miami Herald
"[about String Quartets Nos. 1-3] These superb works reinforce my conviction that chamber music is thriving in the United States.
All three Welcher quartets are extremely well-crafted."
-Robert R. Reilly, Inside Catholic.com
"A bright voice to listen to amid America's gray compositional landscape. He has something to say, and he says it directly and in a way very much his own."
"Concertos for timpani are decidedly a rarity, owing in part to the challenge of writing a work for an instrument of limited possibilities. However, Welcher overcame these difficulties and created a work that casts the timpani in a new light. From the rhythmic vitality of the opening movement to the mellow tenderness of the second and the lilting flow of the finale, Welcher’s concerto is a study in lyricism."
-Edward Reichel, Deseret Morning News
"It would be hard to name a more appealing new concerto for any instrument than this one…The concerto lets the soloist show off an amazing tonal and dynamic range."
-Catherine Reese Newton, Salt Lake Tribune
"It looks to me like a concerto a lot of other people will want to play."
"What Welcher has done is… to create a surreal fantasy in which aural landmarks come and go… a study in bell sounds on the piano that is fully the equal of such famous bell pieces as Ravel's La vallée des cloches or Debussy's Cloches à travers les feuilles."
"…full of interesting appealing ideas, voiced with great ingenuity and skill in the five instruments and it also demonstrates that diatonic music is still a through street… The clarinet is unquestionably the leading actor, but the strings have a lot of interesting things to say. The course of the action has great variety and is enjoyably unpredictable."
"The brightest spot came late in the program… White Mares of the Moon, a mildly avant-garde work that consists largely of minimalistic rhythmic figures overlaid with highly dramatic and expressive flute gestures."
"…the piece is a fully confident, absorbing, thoroughly musical work in four cleanly wrought, eventually cyclical movements. Technical niceties notwithstanding (and there are lots of them), the piece is filled with exciting virtuosic action, soaring melody, and a committed sense of tonality. This is one of the more impressive pieces of chamber music written in America in the late 80s, and it deserves to be heard and played more regularly."
-Allen Gimbel, American Record Guide
"Dan Welcher was almost forty before he began work on his first quartet, but, as this disc shows, his slender output in the genre is among the finest from a 20th century American composer. Those who run away as soon as they read about ‘tone-rows’ should forget Welcher ever mentioned them, his First Quartet easily accessible to anyone who would like to travel down the road set out by Bartok."
-David Denton, David’s Review Corner
"…angular and acerbic but never, even in its angry moments, off-putting."
"The haunting work is in two sections. [In] the first,…the music hang in the air suspended, ungrounded, a perfect setup for the long, almost conversational line of the bassoon… in the second part, the bassoon uses all of its range and plenty of its idiomatic turns, including staccato runs. But mainly the bassoon's line is long and languid… "This piece is a real gift to the instrument," [soloist Steven] Dibner said..."
"The concert opened with what would prove to be its highlight, Zion, a contemporary work by Texas composer Dan Welcher. The sweeping, majestic piece -- performed exceedingly well by the symphony -- was reminiscent of the work of Aaron Copland with its brash, all-American sound."
"…a setting of verses by California poet Christina Hutchins… Mr. Welcher's 14-mintue setting captures the tenderness of the memories and evokes a child's playfulness in lyric music descended from Debussy and Samuel Barber."
-Scott Cantrell, Dallas News
"Welcher…had in mind a symphony of the old school, with the sweep, lush colors, and unfettered musical energy of a Sibelius of Shostakovich.
Welcher managed a score of admirable complexity and splendor, encompassing moments of contemplation and exclamation within a richly textured musical framework that was always pressing forward, growing and deepening in feeling."
-Robert Faires, The Austin Chronicle
"…a 21st-century symphony…urbane, expressive, filled with touches of whimsy and expansively American in its artistic references.
…the past century of American music percolated intelligently and originally throughout: A bluesy riff, syncopated rhythms, bold percussive turns, vigorous melodies and confident brass chorales balanced against moody swirls of woodwinds."
"This music has a most welcome sense of playfulness…meltingly lovely…"
-Robert R. Reilly, InsideCatholic.com
"This music has a most welcome sense of playfulness…"
-Robert R. Reilly, Inside Catholic.com
"Melodically as well as harmonically lush…"
-Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (review of Naxos American Classics 8.559384)
"…this is music you want to hear again the moment it has finished."
-David Denton, David’s Review Corner (review of Naxos American Classics 8.559384)
"…his Third Quartet… has a gracious fluency that suggests a continuity with string quartets by Fauré and Ravel.
-Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News (review of Naxos American Classics 8.559384)
"[The Cassatt Quartet played] with passion, extracting considerable affection from Welcher’s complex three-part composition. Welcher based the quartet on three paintings by American impressionist, and ensemble namesake, Mary Cassatt…
Welcher’s appropriately very impressionistic piece made delightful use of a recurring theme that wove through the three movements. Yet each movement had a distinct profile thanks to some clever musical quoting and riffing.
Tone and mood rule mightily – and delightfully – in Quartet No. 3"
-Jeanne Claire van Ryzin, Austin American-Statesman
"…this is music you want to hear again the moment it has finished."
"Welcher's fantasy-like narrative, suggested by events out of Arthurian legend, is "cinematic" without ever resorting to the clichés of movie music. The orchestration is rich and evocative, its colors so vividly imagined one can almost touch them."
-John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune
"a rewarding 23-minute tone poem by Dan Welcher… it describes the legendary magician Merlin and some of his exploits in a shimmering, eclectic language that encompasses leitmotifs, free dissonance and singing lyricism, all woven together in a picturesque and fully persuasive way."
-Allan Kozinn, The New York Times
"…a work tingling with a magic of its own… Light never really parts the clouds, but in the dim smoky distance and swirling dark gloom can be seen sparks of power and unnatural forces."
"It was a pleasure to encounter Mr. Welcher's music again, and his new piece, Bright Wings, is subtitled "Valediction for Large Orchestra."… The "Valediction" of the subtitle is a farewell to someone in his life who recently died. Yet there is nothing mournful in any sense in the music. Indeed, it seems, on the whole, downright celebratory, and perhaps it was meant as a paean for living. It is crafted for a very large orchestra, yet Mr. Welcher's forces are deployed with transparency and often great delicacy… I can easily imagine it being a boon to orchestras in need of a new, upbeat piece to open a concert… easily absorbable for orchestra and audience alike."
"Bassoonists are also lucky to have a new work as beautifully crafted as Welcher's as an addition to their limited solo repertory. Like his recent Flute Concerto, it is a pensive piece that expertly exploits its solo instrument to evoke atmosphere and emotion-drenched landscapes. More conservative than the Flute Concerto, and frequently elegiac in mood, it is also crafty in the ways it deploys a small group of players to create a wide range of instrumental color."
-William Mootz, Louisville Courier-Journal
"In the glinting middle scherzo the music skips and skims along yet is by no means carefree. There’s a moving finale – dark and moody – that fades down into a quite magical epilogue."
"…vividly coloured despite the modest orchestral forces. Well-managed changes of mood, encompassing jazz, dances, even rock and ragtime within a formal context, show Welcher as a master tactician capable of writing music of striking and sustained interest. His relative youth and technical facility deserve to bring him before a more international public."
-Bret Johnson, Tempo
"Welcher has fashioned a winning two-movement piece that cleverly wanders from "serious" contemporary vistas into the well-traveled land of orchestral jazz… Welcher's concerto brims with freshness, rhythmic verve and more than its share of memorable tunes."
-Marc Shulgold, Rocky Mountain News
"If there's a better Clarinet Concerto by a living composer, I don't know of it. The work is almost a catalogue of the clarinet's musical possibilities, but it is far too well constructed to come across as a mere display of clarinet timbres."
"…a showy, colorful, relatively dissonant work… the piece is well-constructed, serious in tone and is highlighted by quasi-oriental scales in its somber slow movement and suggestions of exuberant dance music in the closing fast movement."
-Carl Cunningham, Houston Post
"It is a big, ambitious piece, some 35 minutes in length. Though its content is not romantic, its design is, for this is a concerto conceived in a full-scale, virtuoso style… what I heard was a first movement that was a riot of exotic color and bristling rhythms, a shimmering and introspective second movement and a dashing, pulsating finale."
-John Ardoin, Dallas Morning News
"Dan Welcher's Piano Concerto was received with thunderous enthusiasm… the concerto is a highly demanding virtuoso vehicle for both soloist and orchestra. the harmonic idiom is a stretched tonality — exotic but not alienating."
-Mike Greenberg, San Antonio Express-News
"Stylistically, Welcher's musical language has great character. It is assertively contemporary in its dissonance, but it has a good foundation of tonality."
"…the fingerprints of the neo-classic Stravinsky are all over the opening bars, from the angularity of the solo lines to the piquant harmonies and motoric rhythmic underpinnings in the orchestra. …the craftsmanship is impeccable, especially the interweaving and dovetailing of melodic strands between the various instrumental groups. …charming work…"
-Michael Cameron, Chicago Tribune
"…it is the music's clarity, conclusion and uncluttered Stravinskian directness that leave the strongest impression. Welcher set out to write a piece that was 'ebullent, sometimes playful, and more charming than profound': judging by this superbly played and recorded performance, he certainly succeeded."
"Dervishes is cannily written so the discerning listener can have lots of fun without mystification. Welcher combines ready wit and a sense of drama in the way he plots a score."
-F. W. Woolsey, Louisville Times
"…the piece has the kind of swirling vitality the name implies; it is superbly orchestrated (with a notable but not overdone part for the bassoons) and it demonstrates conclusively for those who still may doubt it that atonal music can be downright pretty."
"…a cornucopia of color-inflected sonorities that achieve a breathtaking celebratory grandeur."
-Lehman, American Record Guide
"… [a] fun story set on a Pacific island where Maui captures the sun, only letting go when it has promised to regularly return with its warmth. The story is ideal for childeren, its music adult enough to find a place in the symphonic repertiore."
-David's Review Corner
"Welcher's music has a cinematic sweep, with Hawaiian chant-tunes, Polynesian scales, and a battery of native percussion instruments lending an exotic vibrancy to his rich-textured score. All this makes for some pretty weird and wonderful effects, a veritable cornucopia of color-inflected sonorities."
-Tiedman, American Record Guide
"The orchestral colors are as spectacular as a Hawaiian volcano, the musical structure is exceptionally tight, and the piece as a whole is a delight to surrender to."
"In its four movements the new symphony is pensive, filled with joy and delight, occasionally frightening, huge and always fascinating… It is a 20th-century piece that is the herald of the 21st century."
"… [a] highly romantic sense of color pervades Prairie Light, though the music soon transcends its initial inspiration and takes on an expressive and bubbly life of its own."
-Ken Smith, The Gramophone
"… three highly inventive and atmospheric music pictures…"
-David's Review Corner
"…an evocative piece, lushly tonal and nearly impressionistic in its orchestration and effect."
-Edward Reichel, Deseret Morning News
"…an appealingly moody work that weaves a spell with its ever-changing washes of sound and deeply etched effects."
-John Ardoin, Dallas Morning News
"…a succinct, impressionistic piece inspired by three watercolors by Southwestern artist Georgia O'Keeffe… the music moved in gentle, almost pastel progressions, much in keeping with the watercolors done in 1917 in Canyon, Texas by the artist. Eastern elements and non-linear melodic ideas appears, but the work was easily accessible to hard-core fans of strict classical repertoire."
"All three movements are packed with musical ideas that pull the listener's attention from one orchestral section to the next, but with transitions that are smooth and natural… Welcher displays an ease with beautiful music in gorgeous brass ensembles, rich and consonant string passages and multitudes of solo colors."
"The composer has had to juggle a lot of elements, and he has done his work skillfully. He has a keen response to the emotional and pictorial qualities of the text… he knows how to write vividly and gratifyingly for the orchestra. The setting of Frost's "Riders" was galvanizing… rich in both virtuoso display and expressive content."
-Ellen Pfeifer, Boston Herald
"The 45-minute oratorio arouses as much patriotic spirit as a Sousa march at a Fourth of July fireworks display… Through the words of seven authors and poets, two Peace Corps volunteers, the Protestant Council, and Kennedy himself, Welcher has woven a musical tapestry that is rich in orchestral color and rife with musical invention."
"Two become one - that's the image that we hold of true love, isn't it? Beautiful to imagine, but oh so difficult to achieve in the world…The two operas Della's Gift and Holy Night offer us intimate examinations of that difficulty from either side of a century's divide. Ultimately, both show us a way to forgiveness and the shedding of self that allows lovers to unite. In this expression of the meaning of true love, these lovely new operas merge together; two become one."
-Robert Faires, The Austin Chronicle
"I'd be willing to risk money that Della's Gift will survive long after its opening night. The reasons are good and much deserved. The music is disarming in its charm and eminently singable. And as theater, Della's Gift is uncomplicated and affecting… around the 'magical children' of O. Henry's familiar story, Welcher has constructed a musical aura that evokes a bygone American era in a gently, loving way."