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Avshalomov, Jacob (David)

portland american sym junior

Avshalomov, Jacob (David), Russian-American conductor, teacher, and composer, son of Aaron Avshalomov; b. Tsingtao, China, March 28, 1919. His father was Russian and his mother American. He studied with his father before emigrating to the U.S. with his mother in 1937. After studies with Toch in Los Angeles, he went to Portland, Oreg., in 1938 and pursued his training with Lucia and Jacques Gershkovitch. He also played percussion and cello under the latter’s direction in the Portland Junior Sym. After attending Reed Coll. (1939–41), he completed his studies with Rogers at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. (1941-43; B.M., M.A.). During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army and in 1944 became a naturalized American citizen. From 1946 to 1954 he taught at Columbia Univ. In 1952 he held a Guggenheim fellowship. In 1953 he was awarded the N.Y. Music Critics Circle Award for his choral work Tom o’ Bedlam . In 1954 he became conductor of the Portland (Oreg.) Junior Sym., which was renamed the Portland Youth Phil, in 1978. Avshalomov conducted it for 40 years, retiring in 1994. During his tenure, he trained numerous students in the rigors of orchestral playing and led them on 6 international tours. On March 28, 1999, his 80 th birthday was celebrated in Portland with a special concert with an orch. of his alumni from the Portland Junior Sym. and Youth Phil. His music reflects the many cultures to which he was exposed; while his forms are cohesive, his materials are multifarious, with tense chromatic harmonies and quasi-oriental inflections.

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