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David Fuentes
Career Profile

Composer, teacher, and author with diverse experience in each area. Composes for the classical concert stage, theater, art installations, electronic media, television, popular music genres. Teaches courses in the general music core, advanced musical skills and issues, and courses for non-majors; in a variety of settings (research university, popular music conservatory, and liberal arts college). Creates courses to meet emerging needs and interests of students for three decades. Publishes materials for composers and theorists, faculty development (related to vocation and the arts), and general music enthusiasts.


Career Highlights
  • An online treatise on melody and counterpoint empowers students, professionals, and enthusiasts across the globe.

  • Several works for theater, including a rock opera and a (soon-to-be produced) full-scale musical, capture the spirit of the moment while pushing the story forward.

  • Collaboration with poets, sculptors, playwrights, dancers, and students broaden the scope of expression and territory of artistic projects. I was recently named the most collaborative faculty member in my college.

  • Research on the place of music in human flourishing draws lecture invitations and is resulting in a forthcoming book.


Innovations within the Academic Community

  • Do You Hear What I Hear? Developed methods for prompting meaningful discussions about music. Ran monthly sessions on campus for 5 years. Students led DYH sessions at churches, nursing homes, and homeless shelters.

  • Pop Music Guild. With the Student Activities Office, offer support for bands and soloists that includes practice space, monthly feedback sessions, mentoring, opportunities to perform on- and off-campus, networks for collaboration, and opportunities to record.

  • Artist Collaborative. Envisioned and launched a competitive recruitment strategy to draw artistically-talented students. Students receive a stipend, take a few arts-related courses together, and engage in collaborative projects.

  • Systematic film scoring. Developed a rigorous schedule to enable successful collaboration between student filmmakers and composers, which has proven essential to both in their work after college.

  • The Well-rounded Musician. A proposal for rethinking the scope and breadth of music study at traditional undergraduate institutions in light of emerging trends across the music industry.


Professional Experience

  • Calvin College, Professor of Music, 1998-2018.

  • Berklee School of Music, Assistant Professor of Music Composition and Theory, 1988-95; Associate Professor, 1995-98.

  • Brandeis University, Lecturer in Music Theory, 1988-89.


Courses Taught
  • Composition, Songwriting, and Film Scoring: private studio instruction.

  • Sound Design: music synthesis, sampling, and sequencing.

  • Songwriting Seminar: group instruction.

  • Music in Contemporary Culture: a survey of the main stylistic, aesthetic, and technological changes since WWII, and the cultural forces that prompted them.

  • Music Theory: all levels.

  • Musical Form and Syntax: topics in analysis with a focus on practical applications for performers, conductors, and composers.

  • Tonal Counterpoint: a fast-paced introduction to composing melody and counterpoint with a focus on

  • Fugue: analysis and composition of fugue and related forms.

  • Instrumentation and Arranging: idiomatic characteristics of instruments, alone and together.

  • Orchestration: advanced techniques for acoustic and electronic applications.

  • Introduction to a Musical World: music majors and minors consider all the reasons why they make music.

  • Music, Manipulation, and the Mind of God: a theological inquiry into the ultimate reasons for music in human flourishing.

  • Music Appreciation: a topical (rather than histological) approach to listening more effectively

  • Advanced Seminar in Music Research: advising student thesis work.


  • Ph.D. in Music Composition and Theory, Brandeis University, 1988.

  • Master of Music in Composition, University of Iowa, 1983.

  • Bachelor of Music, Roosevelt University, 1981.


Selected Compositions
  • Score for Mezzo. a full-scale musical, commissioned by Alto Productions, currently in
    development for production. Based on real-life events of an opera singer, the play asks, “Can an artist who is willing to sacrifice anything for her art surrender her ambition?”

  • Original music for the ADAPT theater production of “Lines: The Lived Experience of Race 2016.” a collaboration with percussionist/composer Theodore Janga (2016).

  • “Mary and Martha.” a cantata for two sopranos and piano, in collaboration with poet Nikki Grimes, commissioned by Soprani Compagni (2015).

  • Sound design and incidental music for King Lear. Calvin Theater Company (2015).

  • “Thou Art My Love, I Think,” a rock opera, the libretto taken directly from Act V of Shake­speare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, commissioned by the Calvin Theater Company (2014).

  • “Beauty Marks,” five pieces for marimba and Sprechstimme, on texts by poet L.S. Klatt, commissioned by the Indiana Wesleyan University Percussion Department (2014).

  • Sound design and incidental music for Book of the Dunn Cow, Novel by Walter Wangerin, adapted by Stephanie Sandberg, commissioned by the Calvin Theater Company (2012).

  • Incidental music for Hamlet, commissioned by the Calvin Theater Company (2011).

  • “Clouds, Radiance, Sweetness, Gold, and Fire,” an antiphonal tone poem for brass and percussion, an ArtPrize collaboration with Romanian sculptor Liviu Mocan (2011).

  • “Brahms One: Historical Remix,” commissioned by the Calvin Orchestra, in collaboration with composer Evan Dice (2011).

  • Incidental music for Backborn, in collaboration with Hungarian playwright Andras Visky, co-commissioned by the Calvin Theater Company and the playwright (2010).

  • “Covenant Hymn.” for organ, brass ensemble, and choir; commissioned for the dedication of
    the Covenant Fine Arts Center, text by hymnologist Bert Pollman (2010).

  • “Hands and Hearts,” an anthem for choir and orchestra, to a text co-authored by colleagues (2009).

  • Inner Compass Theme Music,” for a nationally-syndicated PBS interview program that aired from 2003-2015.


Books & Chapters
  • “To Whom Do I Sing and Why?” in Vocation across the Academy: A New Vocabulary for Higher Education, Oxford University Press, 2017.

  • “The Best Thing in Life is Free” (a chapter on music and freedom) in It Was Good, Making Music to the Glory of God. Baltimore, Maryland: Square Halo Press, 2013.

  • Figuring Out Melody (a manual on composition and counterpoint), published online at 1995; 2001; 2010.


Invited Lectures
  • “Personality, Passion, Pizzazz … What is Essential in a Great Performance?” Cornerstone University, 2017.

  • “Strengthening Vocational Exploration: A Workshop for Faculty and Staff” and “Discovering What Matters: Exploring Meaning and Purpose in Undergraduate Education“ together with David Cunningham (Hope College), Aurora University, 2017.

  • “The Place of Music and Art in Faith Formation” and “How Musical Style Affects Meaning,” a two-lecture series for the pastoral staff of Calvary Church, Grand Rapids Michigan, 2016.

  • “How Tone, Gesture, and Color Convey Character, Meaning, and Order.” New Works Symposium: Portraits of Women in Modern Soprano Duet, Indiana Wesleyan University, 2015.

  • “Musical Style and Meaning” Potter’s House Christian High School, 2015.

  • “Intrinsic Association: How Music Moves Us.” Potter’s House High School, 2014, 15, 16.

  • “Do You Hear What I Hear? Deciphering a Universal Language.” Calvin Faculty Lectureship Series, 2013.

  • “Intrinsic Association: How Music Moves Us” Illinois State Music Teachers Association conference, Wheaton, Illinois, 2013.

  • “Why Filmmakers Need Composers: What Canned Music Can’t Do.” sponsored by the Communication Arts Department, Calvin College, 2012, 2014, 2016.

  • “Situating the Listener: How Music Draws the Audience into the World of a Film.” Trinity Christian College, 2010.

  • “George Crumb on his Eightieth Birthday.” pre-concert talk, Ensemble Montage, 2009.

  • “Music as a Liberal Art.” chair, panel discussion, Calvin College 2008.

  • “Elliott Carter and the Possible Public.” pre-concert talk, Ensemble Montage, 2008.

  • “Schoenberg’s Post-Serial Tonal Music.” lecture-demonstration with Calvin Wind Ensemble, 2008.

  • “Charles Ives and the Problem of Musical Quotation.” lecture demonstration, Calvin College, 2005.


Conference Presentations
  • “This is Your Heart on Music” Festival of Faith and Music, Calvin College, MI, 2017.

  • “How Musical Style Affects Meaning: Exploring 10 Covers of ‘Over the Rainbow,’” at “Taking Your Church to College: Strengthening Congregational Life through Liberal Arts-Style Learning," The Calvin Institute for Christian Worship, 2016.

  • “Composition as a Christian Vocation in the 21st Century.” Fellowship of Christian Art Music Composers National Conference, Biola University, 2014.

  • “How to Hear Music for More than Emotional Gratification.” Kuyers Institute Conference on Virtues, Vices, and Teaching, Calvin College, 2013.

  • “Using Melodic Figuration in Teaching Music Composition.” Fellowship of Christian Art Music Composers National Conference, Indiana Wesleyan University, 2011.

  • “Why Study Music in College?” Festival of Faith and Music, Calvin College, 2011.

  • “Writing About Musical Sounds.” Festival of Faith and Writing, Calvin College, 2008.

  • “The Musician as a Follower of Jesus.” Annual Symposium on Worship, Calvin Institute for Christian Worship, Calvin College, 2007.

  • “The Musical Impulse and its Implications and Applications for Christian Scholarship.” Society for Christian Scholarship in Music National Convention, Covenant College, 2004.

  • “Composing Around Beats: What We All Do.” Society of Composers International National Conference, Indiana University, 1998.

  • Outside reviewer for faculty tenure appointment, Kings University, 2017.

  • Judge, Illinois Music Educators Association annual composition contest, 2013-18.

  • Seminar participant and author, Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education, 2014-15.

  • Consultant for music and faith formation, Potter’s House schools, 2014-17.

  • Seminar participant, Composing for the Psalms, Calvin Institute for Christian Worship, 2012.


Honors, Awards, & Grants
  • Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship course release to continue work on the book, Ears to Hear (2017)

  • Committee on the Humanities Annual Lecture Series, keynote speaker, Bethel College, 2014.

  • Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship grant to record rock opera, 2014.

  • Rall Symposium keynote speaker, 17th annual Honors Day at North Central College, 2013.

  • Faculty Lectureship Award for the Calvin College Division of Arts, Languages, and Education, 2013.

  • McGregor Research Grant to explore “The Role of Music in Sports, Identity, and Faith Formation,” 2013.

  • McGregor Research Grant to compile and review existing research on music audiences and music criticism, 2007.

  • Lilly Foundation for Vocation Research Grant to explore the intersection of music, vocation, and faith.

  • Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship sponsored year-long, 10-person working group to explore listening to music as a community, 2006.

  • Calvin Research Grant to complete research for Figuring Out Melody, a textbook on music composition and counterpoint. 1999.

  • League of the International Society for Composers of Music (I.S.C.M.) Leo Snyder Prize in Composition, 1991.

  • Wellesley Composers’ Conference, Fellowship Composer, 1990.

  • Irving Fine Fellowship, 1985.

  • M. Gordan Fellowship, 1983, 1984.

  • Remis Fellowship, 1983.

  • Laureate of the Lincoln Academy, 1981.

  • Presser Scholar Award, 1980.

  • Illinois Music Educators Association First Prize in Music Composition, 1977.


Professional Associations
  • Broadcast Music International

  • Society of Composers, International

  • Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers

  • College Music Society

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