Composers Corner - Shawn Davern

Shawn William Davern is an American composer, arranger, conductor, trombonist and educator. Mr. Davern received his bachelor's degree in Music Education at Boston University in 2017, where he studied trombone with Don Lucas and conducting with David Martins. He also studied abroad at the Royal College of Music in London. Davern is currently pursuing his master's degree in wind conducting at James Madison University, where he serves as the graduate assistant of the university's concert and athletic band program under the direction of Dr. Stephen Bolstad. Davern is also a proud member of the Gamma Alpha Chapter of the Brotherhood of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. During his time in Massachusetts, Shawn was the recipient of the 2017 Massachusetts Music Educators Association Promising Young Music Educator Award. He also served as Coordinator of Jazz Ensembles at Boston University and Manager of the Boston University Big Band. Davern has appeared as a guest conductor with the Boston University Trombone Choir, James Madison University Trombone Choir, Jazz Ensemble, Symphonic Band and Wind Symphony in concert. In February 2017, Davern was personally invited and participated in the Art of Conducting Workshop, held at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, under the direction of Dr. Sarah McKoin. Davern's compositions and arrangements have been performed in the United States and the United Kingdom. Davern's arrangement of Pure Imagination, set for trombone and piano, was written for and performed by Toby Oft, principal trombone of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has also arranged for the Boston Brass, in collaboration with the James Madison University Marching Royal Dukes. Davern's works for trombone choir have been performed by the Boston University Trombone Choir, the Eastman Trombone Choir, and the Ithaca College Trombone Troupe. His works for trombone choir have also been performed at the Third Coast Trombone Retreat and the 26th Annual Fruhling Posaunen at Ithaca College. Davern's jazz band and jazz combo pieces have been featured by the Boston University Big Band, Jazz Combos, the Royal College of Music Big Band, the JMU Jazz Ensemble and the twelve time Essentially Ellington Finalist Foxborough Jazz Ensemble. His composition And There Will Be A Story: A Sonata for Trombone and Piano was a featured selection in the final rounds of the Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Awards, commissioned and performed by at Bowling Green State University's Professor of Trombone Dr. Brittany Lasch. Davern’s composition Make the Moment is published by Warwick Music.

We put some questions to Shawn to find out more about the man behind the music...

  1. Who is your biggest inspiration? --My biggest inspiration is by far my father, Bill Davern. My father (who is a music educator and horn player) has and always will be my most pivotal musical and life inspiration. He inspired me to pursue music and education as a career and I've been so lucky to have in my life as a constant pillar of support and love.
  2. Which musician, past or present, would you most like to meet? --This is a tough one, but I would love to meet Donald Fagen, founder and frontman of the jazz rock band Steely Dan. I have a massive amount of respect for Donald's writing and artistry and I imagine he has a great deal of interesting stories to share from life on the road.

  3. Where is the most unusual place that you have performed? --During my final week of my undergraduate degree at Boston University, my best friends and I put on a live jam/concert in our apartment complex, a place where loud noises and brass playing are not easily tolerated. Despite having nine brass players playing at full volume in our apartment, we never got in trouble once. It was a miracle.

  4. What is your favourite meal? --My mother makes a delicious cooked chicken dish, stuffed with ricotta cheese, wrapped in prosciutto with a wine sauce that is absolutely delicious! I ask her to make it for me every time I visit home.

  5. What hobbies do you have, other than music? --I enjoy cooking, hiking, playing video games, reading, traveling and spending time with family and friends over good food and drink.

  6. What’s one thing could you not live without? --My coffee maker is definitely a must-have, it has seen quite a bit of action, especially during my first year of graduate study.

  7. What is your favourite piece of music to play? --I absolutely love playing Sammy Nestico's Reflective Mood for solo trombone and piano.

  8. How old were you when you first started playing? --I first started playing the trombone when I was in 4th grade at the age of 9. I've been playing the trombone for nearly 15 years.

  9. If you didn’t have a career in music, what would you be doing now? --If I hadn't gone in to music, I could certainly see myself engaging in a career on the creative side of advertising, like a modern day Donald Draper (minus his negative and ethical shortcomings).

  10. If there’s one thing you could tell yourself when you were growing up, what would it be? --I would tell myself to not be so judgmental, try to find the good in every person you meet, and that it takes a moment to make a moment, and try to make that moment the best possible. Also, please don't bleach your hair for the swim team in 9th grade.

  11. What’s your favourite joke? --As a disclaimer, just because this is my "favorite" joke, does not mean it is a "good" joke. Q: Why do ducks have flat feet? A: To stamp out forest fires. Q: Why do elephants have flat feet? A: To stamp out burning ducks :)

Find Shawn's music here

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