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Originally published: 2014-03-31 10:24:34
Last modified: 2014-03-31 10:27:27

Performance to celebrate career, works of Scott Meister

When Scott Meister announced plans to retire after a 40-year career at Appalachian State University, his colleagues in the Hayes School of Music knew what one of his tributes should be -- a recital featuring Meister's compositions.

Six of Meister's works will be performed as part of the music school's Faculty Recital Series at 8 p.m. April 1 in Rosen Concert Hall. Admission is free.

Many of the compositions on the program were written specifically for the faculty who will perform them. The breadth of the program also illustrates Meister's interests in ethnic, experimental and avant-garde music.

The program consists of "fur Spielen," written for bassoonist Jon Beebe, "2 Ritual Dances," which was commissioned by a former student of Meister who is now a university professor, "Three Inner Circuits," commissioned by the late H. Max Smith for the American Guild of Organists, "The Note," performed by Rob Falvo, "Games," written for the Mid-America Trumpet Quartet and "Scenes," written for music faculty members Nancy Schneeloch-Bingham, Beebe, Scott Kallestad and Eric Koontz.

Other performers are Chris Blaha, Priscilla Porterfield, Jessica Warner, Rob Falvo, James Stokes, Brent Bingham, Matthew Dickson, David Marvel and Jay Jackson.

Scott Meister's career

One might call Meister an accidental musician and composer. While a high school student, he was interested in pursuing a veterinarian degree. Fate played a role in his successful career path when Ashland College, now Ashland University, in Ohio offered him a marching band scholarship.

A drummer, Meister had to major in music to receive the scholarship.

Meister published his first composition, a percussion trio, while a sophomore at Ashland. 

"That changed my whole life," he said. The piece, written for a music theory class, drew the interest of a publisher Meister met while attending a music conference. "That motivated me, and I also realized I also wanted to be a college teacher," he said.

Meister has since published more than 60 compositions. He estimates they have been performed thousands of times, including his first work, which is often performed in Japan.

His love for composition and incorporating atypical sounds in his work was fueled by professors at the University of Miami, where Meister earned his master's and doctorate in music. 

"I had two of the best composition professors anyone could want. They absolutely opened my mind up," he said. "One had worked with Stockhausen, who was into mathematics, graphics and visuals, and another had studied under Schoenberg."

 Stockhausen was a pioneer in electronic and spatial music, which incorporates location and movement of sound sources. Schoenberg's compositions typically use all 12 notes of the chromatic scale.

 "You've got to see my music to hear my music," said Meister, known for using stage directions, such as having musicians use specific gestures, putting aluminum foil on top of a bassoon or using balloons to create unique sounds.

 He has written for almost every musical ensemble imaginable, including keyboard, brass, woodwind, percussion and orchestra. His latest orchestral work will be premiered by the Appalachian Symphony Orchestra May 2.

 Sound clips of his work are online at

 Meister, who joined the faculty at Appalachian in 1974, is known for his focus on ethnic music. 

He founded the Steely Pan Steel Band in 1985 and has led the ensemble in performances at universities, art festivals, music conventions and public schools throughout the South. 

The band oftentimes performs his original works for steel pan or his arrangements of popular and classical compositions.

 He further expanded the music school's foray into ethnic music by forming mid-Eastern and African percussion ensembles. 

He also regularly led study abroad trips to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and the Caribbean focusing on steel drum music, and to Ireland to learn about that country's traditional music.

 Meister has taught theory and composition courses during his tenure at Appalachian, and has held the Sharpe chair of music since 1998. He also directs the music school's electronic/M.I.D.I. studio.

 He has been commissioned to compose works for bands, choirs and a variety of chamber ensembles. Meister's composition "Gravitons" for orchestra and piano was premiered in 1982 by the Indianapolis Symphony.

 He has won numerous ASCAP Composers awards and twice won the Hinda Honigman Gold Cup for Composition. 

Meister also has been a guest composer at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C.