New York City based, Texas born composer John David Earnest (b.1940) has written extensively for orchestra,
chamber ensemble, chorus, solo voice, concert band, opera and film.
His Second Symphony “The Hastening Light” for solo soprano, chorus and orchestra, was commissioned by the Walla Walla Symphony, Yaacov Bergman, conductor, in 2001.
Mr. Earnest's Chasing the Sun, a scherzo for orchestra, has been widely played throughout the United States, and was recorded in Poland by the Warsaw National Philharmonic.
Other orchestral works include Bountiful Voyager; Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, commissioned by the
Mid-Columbia Symphony, Robert Bode, conductor; Sun Songs and Nocturnes, commissioned for Chanticleer and the New Jersey Symphony, Hugh Wolff, conductor; Southern Exposure, commissioned by the
Mobile Symphony, Scott Speck, conductor); and Piano Concerto No.2, premiered by the
Bucharest Chamber Orchestra, Lee D. Thompson, piano, Robert Bode, conductor.
Mr. Earnest's chamber music includes the Sonata for Piano, commissioned by Lee D. Thompson; Obsessive Waltz, for piano four-hands; Trois Morceaux, trio for clarinet, violin, and cello; The Blue Estuaries, for soprano and seven instruments; and Winter Dances, trio for clarinet, cello, and piano. Those works are recorded by Koch International Classics.
Major choral works are A Van Doren Triptych, commissioned by the U.S. Air Force Singing Sargeants; Only in the Dream, commissioned by the New York City Gay Men's Chorus, Gary Miller, conductor; Variations on Three American Folksongs and Haiku for Stone, both commissioned by the Whitman College Chorale; The First Day, commissioned by the Santa Fe Desert Chorale; and many more choral works, both large and small, as well as many solo songs and song cycles, frequently written in collaboration with poet Robert Bode.
Mr. Earnest has composed two one-act operas, Howard, with librettist Tray Christopher, and A Desperate Waltz, with librettist Mervyn Goldstein. He recently completed a two-act opera, The Theory of Everything, with librettist Nancy Rhodes, commissioned by The Encompass New Opera Theatre, New York for premiere in 2014.
In 2008 Earnest was commissioned by the Opera Theatre of St.Louis, at the request of composer John Corigliano, to prepare a reduced orchestration of Corigliano's opera "The Ghosts of Versailles."
The new orchestration of the opera was premiered in 2009 in St. Louis.
Earnest was appointed composer-in-residence for Choral Arts in Seattle for the 2013-14 season.
In April 2013 Whitman College honored him with a concert of several of his vocal and chamber works.
For many years, Mr. Earnest has been teaching composition and orchestration in New York City.
In 1999 he was appointed the Johnston Visiting Professor of Music at Whitman College. He continues his association with Whitman College as Composer-in-Residence while also teaching composition for a limited
time each semester. He has taught at Lehman College, City University of New York, and Rutgers University
in New Jersey. Fellowships have been awarded Mr. Earnest by the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacDowell Colony. His music is published by ECS Publishing, Boston.
He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music composition at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied with Kent Kennan, Lothar Klein, and Hunter Johnson.