David Harris (DMA, b. 1974) specializes in new music, American music, and the intricacies of communication in singing and conducting. Through innovation, performance, and research, David enlivens community through the power of music. Having been called the “Thomas Edison of vocal music” by those close to him, and “one of the most compelling conductors in America”, his favorite accolade comes from a New Year’s Eve Bostonian who casually offered that he “looks like a guy who could wear suede in the rain and not get wet.” He currently serves as the Music and Arts Director at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles where he directs the professional ensemble, Laude, and the Cathedral Choir, the Ensemble Director and co-founder of the N.E.O. Voice Festival, the co-founder of VoiceScienceWorks and a regular collaborator on various projects around Southern California including past projects with The Industry, Hear Now Festival, Long Beach Opera, and Monday Evening Concerts. He directed, sang, and engineered the premiere recording of film composer Patrick Cassidy's The Mass in 2021, which will received its live concert premiere in March 2022 in collaboration with the composer, Christoph Bull, and Martin Sheen. An advocate of new music, David has premiered hundreds of pieces for vocal and instrumental ensembles, and for the theater. He shares his creative passion with the composers, performers and audiences who bring life to new work, guiding them in the unique discovery of self found in new composition. His podcast, Underground Ictus, with co-host Laurel Irene explores the application of compassion research and learning theory on the engagement of collaborative, creative artistic spaces that uplift all involved and help heal wounds that can form from traditional rehearsal approaches.
A composer/performer himself, David writes in varied styles, and enjoys exploring those elements that communicate most directly to people. Recent compositions have included new approaches to illuminating harmonics (e.g. overtones) in vocal music, rhythmic and textural layering, structured improvisation, contrasting resonant strategies, and crisp simplicity. Songwriting is a daily, and often jocular, practice, akin to his love of gardening (the unmatched joy of a fresh blackberry or tomato). His love of new music invigorates his passion for music of other generations. By integrating historical practice, ornamentation, meaning, and emotional context into contemporary understanding he opens doors into historic music, inviting it off of the museum shelf and into fresh existence. The choirs at FCCLA regularly present major works with the The Great Organs at First Church and orchestra including recent performances of Haydn's Creation, Mozart's and Faure's Requiem, Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem, Bach's Magnificat, Vivaldi's Gloria, and the premiere of his arrangement of Handel's Messiah titled Eleven Minute Messiah. David has created or revitalized over a dozen ensembles in his career, often through important collaboration with others. Career highlights of these ensembles include the Mostly Baroque Players, Jubilate, Triad, C3LA, the Young Men’s Ensemble of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, the choirs at College of the Holy Cross, The Columbia University Glee Club, The Brearley Singers and Chamber Orchestra, The LidaBros barbershop quartet, Laude, the Commonwealth Community Chorus, and the Cathedral Choir at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, which is one of the coolest collections of people to work with in one awe-inspiring place.
He shares a passion for voice science with his life partner and celebrated soprano, Laurel Irene. Together they help vocalists learn to translate complicated science about the voice, ears, brain and body into immediately applicable tools to inspire curiosity in all that their voice can manifest. He, Laurel, and Fahad Siadat begin the N.E.O. Voice Festival to serve as a week-long summer hub for vocalists and composers seeking out new ways to explore the voice in a supportive, safe and brave space. Applications are open for the June 2022 festival. Voice science, though, is much more of a personal pursuit, and includes daily tinkering and expanding vocal opportunities in measured steps. David performs in many styles, has command of varied extended vocal techniques, and loves making crazy sounds and fluidly crossing voice parts in ensembles depending on where the need lies. This has led to regular opportunities to sing and teach others around the world how miraculous their voices are, and how their mental and physical capacity are only limited by their habits and beliefs. Through games, experiences, and presentations based in neuroscience and voice research, he helps people realize the life-changing possibilities of voice. David is thankful to Joan Catoni-Conlon and Larry Kaptein (University of Colorado), Dennis Shrock (University of Oklahoma), Sandra Willets, Granville Oldham, and Shaun Amos (University of Alabama), and Ingo Titze (National Center for Voice and Speech) for their mentorship, and to all of the musicians and collaborators that make up his essential community for their love and guidance. Perhaps the most interesting part of his life, however, is his marriage and daily creative engagement with the unstoppable force of Laurel Irene and their baby premiere that will arrive in April 2022 to teach them even more about what the voice and ears are capable of.