Allen LeVines

Allen LeVines’ music has won national and international recognition, including an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters award and commissions in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. His writing fuses musics as diverse as Japanese court music, West African drumming, and birdsong within a Euro-American compositional tradition. Major works include Daybreak on Lake Bosomtwe for Plectrum Orchestra and Percussion (JZO Plectrum Orchestra, Germany), Mad Verse-Withering Wind for dancer, vocalist, and piano (Z*A Performance Ensemble, Japan), after the quake for mandolin and guitar (Mare Duo, Germany), Risshakuji for string quartet (Tomoda String Quartet, Japan), Travel Journal: Books I–III for string quartet (Portland String Quartet, U.S.), and Pavane and Sauterelle for orchestra (St. Louis Symphony, U.S.). 

LeVines studied composition with Paul Langston at Stetson University, George Crumb and George Rochberg at the University of Pennsylvania, and George Perle at Tanglewood. Noteworthy influences in LeVines’ continuing studies have been Ghanaian drumming with Torgbui Midawo Gideon Foli Alorwoyie and Japanese gagaku with Sensei Suenobi Togi. International prizes have included the Bashō International Festival Commission (Japan), the Netherlands American Foundation Commission, and the Concours International de Composition de Musique Sacrée (Switzerland). 

  • Career Highlights
    • Compositions performed by Portland String Quartet, Tomoda String Quartet, MareDuo, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, ALEA III, and Z*A Performance Ensemble
    • Artistic director for Stämbandet Scandinavian vocal ensemble
    • Recordings on Arabesque Records
    • Publications at Joachim-Trekel-Musikverlag (Germany)
    • Recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Fellowship
    • Commissioned works for the Netherlands American Foundation, St. Louis Symphony, and Bashō International Festival Commission 
  • Awards
    • Recipient of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Charles Ives Scholarship
    • Recipient of third prize, Concours International de Composition de Musique Sacrée (Switzerland)
    • Recipient of St. Louis Symphony's OLIS New Music Award
    • Recipient of Washington International String Quartet Composition Prize 
  • Education
    • M.A., University of Pennsylvania
    • B.M., Stetson University

In Their Own Words

"I try to help students become aware of how much there is out there in any given field. In the orchestration courses I teach, I have a listening list, and students take an exam based on that listening list at some point during the semester. The list is long; it might be a hundred pieces or more. I don't really expect them to know all hundred pieces in one semester, but nonetheless, any one of those pieces can end up on the test. There is a sense in which it is asking too much—to be able to identify any of the pieces from 30-second excerpts."

"On the other hand, if students take the assignment seriously and listen to half a dozen to a dozen pieces a day—just getting to know some of the themes in the piece—perhaps they will realize what they may have thought was a lake of music is really an ocean, or several oceans. Music is a vast universe. This realization can be overwhelming, but it can also be completely exhilarating."

"If students come into my courses without an insatiable curiosity for music, I hope that they leave with it. I had a teacher instill that in me when I was a student, and it's made all the difference. It's the way I live my life. I have an intense desire to find out about music I do not know, to read books I have not read, to discover places I have not been."