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Zachary Cairns

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Zachary Cairns


Zachary Cairns (b. 1978, Champaign, Ill.) is an American composer and educator.

Dr. Cairns received his Ph.D. in music theory from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester (2010), an M.A. in music theory (2003) and a B.S. in music education (2000) from Penn State University. While at Penn State, he also earned a performer’s certificate in percussion.

Dr. Cairns has presented papers at the Society for Music Theory, as well as numerous regional, national, and international conferences. His primary area of research is the avant garde music of post-Stalinist Russia, focusing primarily on the serial music of Edison Denisov. His work has been published in Studia musicologica, Music Theory Online, Indiana Theory Review, Gamut, and he has a forthcoming article in Music Theory and Analysis. In 2012, he was awarded a grant from the University of Missouri Research Board to conduct research at the Tanyeev Library of the Chaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, Russia.

As a composer, Dr. Cairns' works have been performed across the United States and in Europe. His work Two Pieces for Baritone Saxophone and Percussion won first prize in the 2014 Percussive Arts Society's Composition Contest. An expanded version of that work, Interactions for Baritone Saxophone and Percussion, was premiered at the World Saxophone Congress (SaxOpen) in Strasbourg, France in July 2015. A work for wind ensemble titled Refracted Moonlight has been performed by numerous collegiate and advanced high school bands across the country. Other recent works include Rhythmic Ceremonial Ritual for 7 antiphonal tambourines (yes, you read that correctly), The Land of Nod for two-part treble choir with piano, clarinet, violin, and percussion (also available for SATB choir with the same instrumental forces), Concert(in)o for Marimba and Wind Quintet, and Passing Through for alto saxophone and string trio. A new work, Blumenlieder (for mezzo-soprano, flute, cello, and piano), based on the poetry of St. Louis native Sara Teasdale, was premiered in Stuttgart, Germany in October 2018 as part of the American Days 2018 festival.

As an associate professor, Dr. Cairns coordinates the music theory curriculum at University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Works for Winds