David Conte

David Conte (born 1955) is an American composer who has written over 150 works published by E.C. Schirmer (a division of ECS Publishing), including six operas, a musical, works for chorus, solo voice, orchestra, chamber music, organ, piano, guitar, and harp.[1] Conte has received commissions from Chanticleer, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Harvard University Chorus, the Men’s Glee Clubs of Cornell University and the University of Notre Dame, GALA Choruses from the cities of San Francisco, New York, Boston, Atlanta, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., the Dayton Philharmonic, the Oakland Symphony, the Stockton Symphony, the Atlantic Classical Orchestra, the American Guild of Organists (2004, 2009, 2014, 2015), Sonoma City Opera, and the Gerbode Foundation (for his opera America Tropical).[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] He was honored with the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Brock Commission in 2007 for his work The Nine Muses, and in 2016 he won the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Art Song Composition Award for his work American Death Ballads.[16][17]

David Conte

Education and careerEdit

Conte earned his bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University, where he studied with Wallace DePue, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Cornell University, where he studied with Karel Husa, Steven Stucky, and Robert Moffat Palmer.[18][19][20] From 1975 to 1978 he studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and Fontainebleau, where he was one of her last students.[21][22][23]

Conte has been honored as a Fulbright scholar in Paris, a Ralph Vaughan Williams Fellow and an Aspen Music Festival Conducting Fellow.[24] He has served on the faculties of Cornell, Colgate University, Keuka College, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts. While at Cornell, he served as both the assistant director and acting director of the Cornell University Glee Club, for whom he composed numerous works. Since 1985, Conte has been Professor of Composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. From 2000 to 2014 he was conductor of the Conservatory Chorus, and in 2014 he was appointed Chair of the Composition Department.[25] He served as Composer-in-Residence with the theater company Thick Description from 1991-2008, for whom he composed two chamber operas: Firebird Motel (2003; David Yezzi librettist) and America Tropical (2007; Oliver Mayer, librettist).[26][27] In 1991 he served on the faculty of the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France (Fontainebleau Schools). In 2010, Conte was appointed to the composition faculty of the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, and in 2011 he joined the board of the American Composers Forum, serving until 2017.[28][12] Since 2014 he has been the Composer in Residence with Cappella SF, a San Francisco-based professional chorus.[29] In 2018, he joined the faculty of the Choral Chameleon Summer Institute for Composers and Conductors in Brooklyn, New York.[30]

In 1982 Conte lived and worked at the home of Aaron Copland, where he undertook a study of the manuscript sketches of Copland’s last orchestral work, “Inscape,” which became the basis of his doctoral thesis at Cornell University.[31][21]  Conte’s choral music has been the subject of four doctoral theses, and he is the author of articles on Copland, Vaughan Williams, and on the pedagogy of choral composition, all published in The Choral Journal, the membership-based monthly publication of the American Choral Director’s Association.[32][33][34][35][36]

One of his best-known works is the opera The Gift of the Magi (Nicholas Giardini, librettist), which has received over 30 productions in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Russia. His opera The Dreamers (Philip Littell, librettist), led to a commission from the Oakland Symphony for The Journey (a cantata, 2001).[37] Film scores include Orozco: Man of Fire for the PBS American Master's Series (2006), and Ballets Russes shown at the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals (2005).[38][39] Other prominent works include “Fantasy for Orchestra”, and “A Copland Portrait” (orchestra and band), and Soliloquy, and Pastorale and Toccata (organ). Many of his choral works have received wide acceptance, including Cantate Domino, Invocation and Dance, Ave Maria, Charm me asleep, Elegy for Matthew (in memory of Matthew Sheppard, text by John Stirling Walker), September Sun (in memory of 9/11, with text also by Walker), An Exhortation (composed for the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama), and Three Mexican Folk Songs.[40][41]

Conte's work is represented on many commercial CD recordings, including Chamber Music of David Conte (2015) on the Albany label; Facing West: Choral Music of Conrad Susa and David Conte (2016) on the Delos Label; and Everyone Sang: Vocal Music of David Conte (2018) on the Arsis label.



  • The Dreamers
  • The Gift of the Magi
  • Firebird Motel
  • America Tropical
  • Famous
  • Stonewall


  • The Passion of Rita St. James (produced at the San Francisco Conservatory in 2003)

Film scoresEdit

  • Ballets Russes (Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals in 2005)
  • Orozco: Man of Fire (PBS American Masters Series, 2007)

Chamber works (partial list)Edit

  • String Quartet No. 2 (Commissioned by the Ives Quartet;[42] 2010)
  • Sonata for Cello and Piano (2012)
  • Piano Trio (2013)
  • Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (2019)

Orchestral works (partial list)Edit

  • The Masque of the Red Death (1992; revised 1994)
  • A Copland Portrait (2000)
  • Sinfonietta (2013)
  • Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (2018)

Choral works (partial list)Edit

  • Cantate Domino (SATB 1975)
  • Hosanna (SATB; 1979; SSAA; 1982)
  • Canticle (From Three Sacred Pieces - TTBB 1982; SATB 1984)
  • The Waking (SATB 1985)
  • Invocation and Dance (TTBB 1986; SATB 1989)
  • Valediction (SATB, organ; 1989)
  • Ave Maria (SATB 1991)
  • In Praise of Music (SSA 1991; SATB 1994)
  • Charm me asleep (SATB 1993)
  • American Triptych (SATB, chamber ensemble; 1999)
  • Elegy for Matthew (TTBB 1999: SATB 2000)
  • September Sun (SATB, String Orchestra; 2002)
  • O Magnum Mysterium (SATB; 2002)
  • A Hope Carol (SSAA 2006)
  • The Nine Muses (ACDA Brock commission; SATB 2007)
  • An Exhortation (Premiered at the Presidential Inauguration of President Barack Obama; TTBB, SSAA, SATB 2009)
  • Carmina Juventutis (TTBB, piano four-hands)
  • Songs of Love and War (TTBB, piano four-hands; 2011)
  • Three Mexican Folk Songs (SATB; TTBB; SSAA; 2 violins, guitar, bass, or piano; 2014)
  • A Whitman Triptych (SATB; 2015)


  1. ^ "David Conte". ECS Publishing. Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  2. ^ "Chanticleer's spring 2009 tours include China debut". Chanticleer. 2009-04-08. Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  3. ^ "Carmina Juventutis by David Conte". Empire City Men's Chorus. 2016-03-16. Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  4. ^ "Festival History". GALA Choruses. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  5. ^ "FY01 Creativity". League of American Orchestras. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  6. ^ "Young Women's Choral Projects of San Francisco, Susan McMane, Director". San Francisco Symphony. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  7. ^ "Premieres Spearheaded by Peter Jaffe and the Stockton Symphony". Peter Jaffe Conductor. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  8. ^ "AGO New Music Commissions". American Guild of Organists. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  9. ^ "Atlantic Classical Orchestra Presents Romantic Spirit, David Conte, Composer, Marina Lenau, Violin". The Lyric Theatre. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  10. ^ "Sonoma Opera Commissions Piece". SFGate. 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  11. ^ "Special Awards in the Arts". Gerbode Foundation. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  12. ^ a b Schwartz, Stephen (2012-11-10). "Getting to Know David Conte: A Q&A with the ACF board member and composer". American Composers Forum. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  13. ^ "A Bell". ECS Publishing Group. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  14. ^ "Give Us Music". ECS Publishing. Retrieved 2020-12-28.
  15. ^ "WW1 Centenary Concert Program" (PDF). Harvard University - The Memorial Church. 2018-11-11. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
  16. ^ "Raymond W. Brock Memorial Commission". American Choral Directors Association. Retrieved 2020-12-28.
  17. ^ "NATS Art Song Composition Award". National Association of Teachers of Singing. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  18. ^ Aloi, Daniel (2016-12-16). "Composer Karel Husa dies at 95". Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  19. ^ Glaser, Linda B. (2017-03-17). "Concert series pays tribute to composers Stucky, Husa". Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  20. ^ Spergal (2015-11-02). "BGSU Alumnus & Composer David Conte Reminisces on 60 Years in Music". Bowling Green State University. Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  21. ^ a b Caliss, Jeff (2015-10-28). "Composer David Conte Reminisces on 60 Years in Music". San Francisco Classical Voice. Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  22. ^ Fitzsousa, Brian. "David Conte Interview". San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Retrieved 2020-12-28.
  23. ^ Francis, Kimberly A. (2016-02-18). "Nadia Boulanger, teaching Stravinsky to David Conte". OUPblog (Oxford University Press). Retrieved 2020-12-28.
  24. ^ Adams, Byron (2003). Vaughan Williams Essays. Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate. p. 15. ISBN 978-1138273733.
  25. ^ "David Conte: Chair, Composition, Technology and Applied Composition; Music History and Literature". San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  26. ^ "Firebird Motel CD Insert" (PDF). Primephonic. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  27. ^ "America Tropical". ECS Publishing. Retrieved 2020-12-28.
  28. ^ "Institute Faculty". European American Musical Alliance. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  29. ^ "David Conte, Composer in Residence". Cappella SF. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  30. ^ "Summer Institute for Composers and Conductors". Choral Chameleon. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  31. ^ Conte, David (1983). A Study of Aaron Copland's Sketches for Inscape (PDF). Doctoral Dissertation.
  32. ^ Conran, Michael Artemus (2003). A study of David Conte's secular SATB choral works with non-orchestral score complement. The University of Arizona: Doctoral Dissertation.
  33. ^ Keating, Gary E. (2011). In Praise of Music: A Motivation for Choral Conductors. University of Miami Scholarly Repository. CiteSeerX
  34. ^ Simmons, Stephen A. (2000). The Published Choral Music of David Conte (PDF). University of South Carolina: Doctoral Dissertation.
  35. ^ Wilkins, Marlen Dee (2011). An analysis of selected choral works of David Conte utilizing ensemble accompaniment. University of Northern Colorado: Doctoral Dissertation. OCLC 760072455.
  36. ^ "Choral Journal". American Choral Directors Association. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
  37. ^ "The Journey". ECS Publishing Group. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  38. ^ "Orozco: Man of Fire". Pleiades Productions Laurie Coyle Films. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  39. ^ "Ballet Russes". Zeitgeist Films. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  40. ^ Shrock, Dennis (2009). Choral Repertoire. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 757. ISBN 9780195327786.
  41. ^ "Inauguration song lyrics echo Obama's words". SFGATE. 2012-02-09. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
  42. ^ Serinus, Jason Victor (2015-09-29). "Intimate Rewards". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved January 20, 2021.

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