Jason Michael Gerraughty is a composer of vibrant, dramatic, and bold music. His musical influences are diverse, ranging from the small-town New England municipal bands he performed with in his youth, to the orchestral, chamber, and gamelan ensembles he has performed with as an adult. He has worked with such talented musicians such as Lucy Shelton, So Percussion, Beta Collide, and Fireworks New Music Ensemble. Gerraughty’s music has been performed recently at the International Horn Society Symposium 2011, and at the North American Saxophone Alliance Region 8 Conference at West Point, NY.
Gerraughty earned his B. M. at the Hartt School, and his M. M. at the University of Oregon; he has studied privately with Ingram Marshall, Robert Carl, Stephen Gryc, Robert Kyr, and David Crumb. His music has been recognized by his colleagues: recent awards include the American Composers Forum Finale® National Composition Competition (Honorable Mention), The Gamper Festival of New Music at the Bowdoin International Music Festival, and The ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards (Finalist).
Gerraughty currently lives in Port Jefferson, NY, and is pursuing his Ph.D. at Stony Brook University. His current projects include commissions with the Equinox Sextet and with Bass Clarinetist Lisa Preimesberger.
My music education began at the age of eight with lessons in horn. In my hometown of Nashua, New Hampshire, I studied privately with a local music teacher, repair technician, and general music man named David Bailey. Bailey, a leader of multiple community bands throughout the state of New Hampshire, introduced me to The Hollis Town Band, a small town municipal band that was charged with playing in official ceremonies for the town, as well as for entertainment during community events such as the Hollis Apple Festival. Playing with the Hollis Town Band and other ensembles like it were extremely influential upon my development as a musician. The music itself, mostly marches, pages out of the Great American Songbook, Dixieland, all mixed with some classic band pieces such as the Holst Suites, have always resonated with me. Playing for ceremonies and city functions instilled in me a sense of community that has carried over into the attitude that I take with music making today.
As time went on, I became more and more involved in the music making in my community. By the time I was thirteen, I had become the assistant conductor of the Hollis Town Band, and was in charge of rehearsing and conducting my own pieces for concerts. At this time, I started composing my first music. Under the tutelage of David Bailey, who slowly converted my horn lessons into conducting and music theory lessons, I was given exercises out of Fux’s Gradus Ad Parnassum. With the help of musicians in my community, I was able to put on the premieres of some of my earliest work, pieces written for the community bands and pieces for small ensembles of band members. I joined the choir at my high school in order to get a premiere with them.
These early experiences with music making in New Hampshire greatly affect how I work with musicians who play my music today. I enjoy developing close relationships with the people I work with. These kinds of relationships foster a passion and excitement for the music being performed, and working closely with musicians helps them to become part of the creative process. This sense of community is extremely important to me, and factors into all of the music I write.
After graduating from high school in New Hampshire, I was offered a scholarship to continue study in composition at The Hartt School. After coming from a small New England city, I was inundated with art, music, and culture from all over the world. Knowing that I had missed out on a significant amount of standardized music education, I began auditing Twentieth-Century music history and music theory classes in an attempt to “catch up” to my peers. Hartford was a stop for many performers and artists on their way from Boston to New York, and I was encouraged by my professors, Ingram Marshall, Robert Carl, and Stephen Gryc to experience as much as I could. I found myself spending many days walking through Hartford’s art museum, The Wadsworth Atheneum, taking in visiting exhibits as well as permanent pieces. I was particularly influenced by the works of Julian Schnabel, Jasper Johns, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Robert Rauschenberg. Easily the most significant piece that I witnessed during this time was Rauschenberg’s Retroactive I. Its juxtaposition of popular imagery as a means of communication influenced me strongly. From this period onward, I began experimenting with musical techniques analagous to Rauschenberg’s process.
While studying at The Hartt School, I began to establish myself in the music making community of my fellow composers and performers. For two years, I organized and curated the Public Works new music concerts for the composition department. I remained active on the horn, participating in many premieres of my colleagues works, as well as performing in the Hartt Symphonic Band. My interest in visual art led to a fruitful collaboration with the Hartford Art School’s Digital Arts program, having several students create a music video to accompany my Suite for Chamber Orchestra. I began to realize that these practices of collaboration were part of what I wanted to do with my career, and that in order for composers and other artists to succeed, they must form. For my hard work during my time at Hartt, I was honored with the Edward Diemente Prize in Composition from the Composition Department.
Robert Kyr, Professor of Composition at the University of Oregon, visited The Hartt School my last year as part of a West Coast Composers Symposium that the Composition department curated. After listening to him speak, and hearing what he was doing with his program, I applied to it and was accepted with a Ruth Lorraine Close Scholarship. Kyr had promised that his program would be very challenging, and I was interested in developing my compositional craft to as high a level as I could. Under the University of Oregon’s rigorous curriculum and the private instruction of Kyr and David Crumb, my creativity flourished and my music became more focused. During this time, I made it to the final round in the 2007 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards with my piece, Yellow No. 5. Later that year, I was selected to attend the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick, ME, where I was fortunate enough to study with Robert Beaser and Roberto Sierra. My piece, Interrobang, was selected from amongst submissions from all the composers at the festival to be played during the Gamper Festival of New Music.
One of the hallmarks of the University of Oregon’s Composition curriculum is its focus on composers taking their musical community into their own hands. Composers have their works performed as part of composer-organized and composer-comprised ensembles and concerts, forming a tight support network for each other. As a member of one of such ensembles, the Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble (ECCE), I have worked to create an environment where it is easy for composers to find outlets for their creative energy. I have also sought to enrich the musical community of the greater Eugene area, playing horn in various community ensembles and doing outreach programs to young students throughout the state of Oregon. As an inaugural member of the American Creator’s Ensemble at the Oregon Bach Festival Composer Symposium, I played with members of Fireworks New Music Ensemble and Beta Collide, premiering works by myself and several composers from all over the world.
As a composer, performer, and artist, I am dedicated to the advancement of my music and the creative endeavors of those around me. I continue to support these individuals as part of a tightly-knit community devoted to the inclusion and propagation of new ideas and new ways of thinking.