David Colson

Photo of David Colson
David Colson
Professor, Theory/Composition
(269) 387-4691
1404 Dalton, Mail Stop 5434
Mailing address: 
School of Music
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5434 USA
  • D.M.A, Rice University
  • M.A., University of Iowa
  • B.M., University of Michigan

David J. Colson is professor of theory and composition at Western Michigan University.  He served as director of the School of Music from 2007 - 2014. He came to WMU from California State University–Chico, where he taught music theory and composition, chaired the Department of Music and was the David W. and Helen E.F. Lantis University Professor, the university's first endowed professorship. Colson received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Michigan, where he studied percussion with Charles Owen and composition with Curtis Curtis-Smith, George Balch Wilson, William Bolcom and William Albright; a Master of Arts degree from the University of Iowa, where he studied composition with William Hibbard and received the University's Philip Greely Clapp Composition Award; and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition from Rice University, where he was awarded the Sallie Shepard Perkins Prize for "highest achievement in music."

Colson's compositions have been performed and recorded in Europe and the United States. His works are released on MMC Recordings Ltd. and Red Mark, and are published by Avera Music Press. Colson is a fellow of the MacDowell Colony and is invited each summer as a composer to The Colorado College New Music Symposium. Recent performances of Colson's compositions include The Conjunction of Uncertain Conditions commissioned by Ensemble Chiaroscuro; Zazen composed for the Concordia String Trio; Medusa's Eye for guitarist David Starobin; Mandala for the Dorian Wind Quintet's west coast tour; Lasciatemi morire for the CSU, Chico A Cappella Choir; Monologues for flute and vibraphone performed at the Colorado College New Music Symposium; Percussion Piece No. 5 for the Colorado Symphony Orchestra's "Drums of the World" concert; and Imago for the North State Symphony Orchestra's subscription series.

Colson has performed extensively as both a conductor and percussionist. From 1994 to 2000 he was music director and conductor of the Chico Symphony Orchestra. He was resident conductor for university orchestras at Rice University and also for The Colorado College Summer Music Festival. As a percussionist, Colson was a member of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the Northwood Orchestra, and has performed with many other professional orchestras including the Houston Symphony, the Houston Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, and the Sacramento Symphony orchestras. Along with the piano duo "Quattro Mani" he recorded George Crumb's Makrokosmos III: Music for a Summer Evening and Poul Ruder's De Profundis for Bridge Records. Colson also recorded Crumb's complete song cycle Madrigals (Books I–IV) with soprano Tony Arnold and Idyll for the Misbegotten with flutist Rachel Rudich, both for Bridge Records. He recently conducted a recording of Crumb's Ancient Voices of Children, which was nominated for a 2006 Grammy® Award. In May 2007, Bridge Records released a new CD including Bartók's Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra, and Milhaud's Second Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion with Colson as a featured percussionist. Colson's performances have also been recorded on New World Records, MMC Recordings Ltd., Red Mark, and Innova.