Arts and Culture | Local

UA music school festival to mark Debussy, Asia milestones

Daniel Asia

The 11th annual Music + Festival at the University of Arizona will focus on the music of Claude Debussy, in commemoration of  the 100th anniversary of his death, and Daniel Asia, in honor of his 65th birthday and 30 years in residence at the UA’s Fred Fox School of Music.

The festival, which will be held Oct. 10-16, will include a conference, symposium and seven concerts.

“Claude Debussy was certainly one of the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and his music has remained highly influential throughout the 20th and into the twenty-first century,” says Asia, festival organizer. “In particular, his attention to instrumental color, a lightness and ephemeral approach to texture, and his interest in scales other than the diatonic, are all matters that composers must consider in their own music. His interest in nature certainly has found compatriots in the realm of living composers, John Luther Adams being one of the most prominent.”

With the festival entering its second decade and his own milestones to celebrate, “I decided to go ahead and be self-referential,” says Asia, adding that “in some respects my music has been very much affected by my encounter with that of Debussy (and many others of course), so the pairing seems natural and appropriate.”

The festival will begin with a concert by the Amernet String Quartet on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. in Holsclaw Hall. This and the concert on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 4:30 p.m. in Crowder Hall, featuring the Arizona Symphony Orchestra, the UA Wind Ensemble and the UA Symphonic Choir, have ticket prices of $10 ($7 for UA employees and seniors age 55+, $5 for students). All other concerts in the festival are free, including “The Piano Music of Claude Debussy” with Roy Howat on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Crowder Hall. Howat, an internationally known pianist and scholar, is the founding editor of the Paris-based Complete Debussy Edition (Œuvres complètes de Claude Debussy), for which he edited most of Debussy’s solo piano music.

“The festival includes a full day conference — only our second — with leading guest scholars and members of our own stellar musicology and theory faculty,” says Asia. The conference, which is free, will be held Friday, Oct. 12, 9:30 a.m.-noon and 1:30-5 p.m. The symposium, also free, will be held on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 1:30 p.m.

The festival will conclude with a concert honoring the memory of poet Paul Pines, with his works set to Asia’s music, featuring world-renowned tenor and UA alumni Robert Swensen, who is also a former associate professor of voice at the Fred Fox School of Music, on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 7 p.m. at Holsclaw Hall.

Tickets are available at the UA College of Fine Arts Box Office at 621-1162 or

For more information, including a complete schedule, visit