John David Earnest

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John David Earnest (b. 1940)

John David Earnest has composed extensively for many types of ensembles, large and small, vocal and instrumental. His orchestral works include Second Symphony “The Hastening Light” for soprano, chorus and orchestra, premiered in 2001 by the Walla Walla Symphony; Southern Exposure,commissioned by the Mobile Symphony Orchestra in 2002; and Chasing the Sun, recorded by the Warsaw National Philharmonic. Among his other orchestral works are Bountiful Voyager, Concerto for Piano & Orchestra, and Concerto for Piano & Strings, premiered in 2004 in Bucharest, Romania.  


Earnest’s major choral works are Sun Songs and Nocturnes, commissioned for Chanticleer in 1991, A Van Doren Triptych, Only in the Dream, Variations on Three American Folksongs, and The First Day, commissioned by the Santa Fe Desert Chorale in 2006. Among his many solo vocal works are the cycles In Tomorrow’s Fields, Postcards from Frank, Crickets and Commas, The Future In My Hand, and Songs of Hadrian.

Mr. Earnest’s stage works include The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, written with librettist Mervyn Goldstein, premiered by the Virginia Opera in 1997; Howard, and A Desperate Waltz, commissioned by Golden Fleece Composers Chamber Theater. He recently completed a full-length opera,The Theory of Everything, commissioned by the Encompass New Opera Theatre in New York City, with a libretto by Nancy Rhodes.

In 2008 a CD of Earnest’s chamber music was released on the Koch International Classics label. In 2017 a CD of two of his works for flute, clarinet, and piano was released by Albany Records. In 2011 his Commedia Gallery for flute, viola, and harp was commissioned and premiered by the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival. Mr. Earnest teaches composition privately in New York City, and is also Composer-in-Residence at Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington. He has taught at Lehman College, City University of New York, and Rutgers University. His music is published by E.C.Schirmer Music Company, Boston.

Born in Texas and educated at the University of Texas at Austin, he has made New York City his home since 1968.