Roger Bourland (b. Dec. 13, 1952, Evanston, Illinois) received his education from the University of Wisconsin/Madison (B.Mus),the New England Conservatory of Music (M.M.), and Harvard University (A.M., Ph.D.). His teachers have included Leon Kirchner, Gunther Schuller, Donald Martino, John Harbison, and Randall Thompson. He received the Koussevitzky Prize in Composition at Tanglewood, the John Knowles Paine Fellowship at Harvard, two ASCAP Grants to Young Composers, numerous Meet the Composers grants, and was a co-founder of the Boston-based consortium “Composers in Red Sneakers.” Bourland has composed over one hundred works for all media: solo, instrumental, chamber, vocal and choral music, electro-acoustic music, and music for orchestra, wind ensemble, and other large ensembles, which are published by Yelton Rhodes Music, ECS Publishing, Dorn Publications, Inc. and Associated Music Publishers, Inc. His works have been recorded on Northeastern Records, 1750 Arch, Open Loop, Cambria, and GM Recordings.
As a film composer, he has scored “The Wolf at the Door” (1987, CBS/Fox), “The Trouble with Dick” (1986, Academy Video), “Night Life” (1988, RCA/Columbia), and James Merrill’s “Voices from Sandover” (PBS, 1990). In 1991 he scored a 13-part radio series for National Public Radio entitled “Poets in Person,” and received his second National Endowment for the Arts grant for a CD of saxophone music. From 1992 to 1994, Bourland received commissions for three full-length cantatas (“Hidden Legacies,” “Flashpoint/Stonewall,” both with librettist John Hall, and “Letters to the Future”) from five GALA Choruses which have been performed throughout America. Two documentaries were created and televised on the impact of “Hidden Legacies” on gay men’s choruses.
In 1993, Bourland established Yelton Rhodes Music, a publishing house for choral music. In 1994, he was commissioned to compose “Ozma” in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Topeka Symphony Orchestra. “Rosarium a drama for chorus” a 2 hour work for chorus, soloists, and orchestra with a libretto by William MacDuff, was premiered in 1999 at UCLA’s Royce Hall. In 2000, Bourland and MacDuff fulfilled a commission for the US Navy’s choral ensemble, The Sea Chanters entitled “Keeping the Ocean Free” in honor of their 45th anniversary which received its premiere on June 2001 in Washington D.C.. In 2001, Bourland’s “Four Painters,” scored for piano quartet, was premiered by the Los Angeles Chamber ensemble, Pacific Serenades. For the post-9/11 2001-2 concert season, Bourland and MacDuff composed “The Crocodile’s Christmas Ball and other odd tales” which was premiered by the UCLA Wind Ensemble and Chorale with the composer conducting.
For the 2004-5 concert season, Bourland had four new works premiered: “The Night Train” commissioned by the St Matthews Chamber Orchestra, Thomas Neenan, conductor, a new film entitled “Cages” directed by Graham Streeter, a new song cycle premiered by Juliana Gondek (May 2005) entitled “Four Apartsongs”, and an arrangement of Mozart’s “Trauermusik” for wind ensemble, performed by the UCLA Wind Ensemble, D. Thomas Lee, conductor. Two new choral works were premiered in 2007: Vox Femina/LA (“Alarcon Madrigals, Book 3”), and the “A More Perfect Union” premiered by the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus; and a commission for a new work for string quartet, “Four Poets” from the Ives Quartet. HOMER IN CYBERSPACE with a book and lyrics by Mel Shapiro, was premiered by the UCLA Theater Department in May 2008.
Since 1983, Professor Bourland has taught composition, music theory, orchestration, electronic music, and other classes and seminars in the UCLA Department of Music. As an administrator at UCLA, Bourland has served as the Chair of the Committee on Committees (1997-98, and 2001 – 2003), the Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee in the Arts (5 yrs), and as the President of the UCLA Faculty Center (2004-5). Dr. Bourland was awarded the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award for 2005-6. In 2007, Bourland was appointed Chair of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Department of Music. In 2013 Bourland took an early retirement from UCLA to focus on composing.
Bourland’s first opera with a libretto by Mitchell Morris, THE DOVE AND THE NIGHTINGALE, received its premiere at the Angela Peralta Theater in Mazatlán, Mexico in November 2014. His first ballet, EL RUISEÑOR MEXICANO will be premiered in November 2016 at the same theater by Ballet Mazatlán with Scott Dunn conducting. Bourland and Morris are currently beginning their second opera FRIDA AND THE SMOKING MIRROR which will be premiered at UCLA, in Mazatlán and San Jose, CA in it first run.
Roger Bourland’s popular blog, rogerbourland.com, has been widely read for many years.