ABOUT CARL STROMMEN
Addressing the audience at the premier of "Nalukataq", Barrow, Alaska
In a recent interview, Mr. Strommen was asked how he manages to successfully
write for so many different settings, as an arranger and as a composer.
"My first non-published arrangements were for jazz band - starting in high school. My first
assignments in the publishing world were for arrangements of "pop" choral music and what
was called “easy” jazz band - for Alfred Publishing when they were still on Long Island.
Arranging assignments for wind band followed for Alfred and Warner Bros. String writing
came a bit later (I took violin lessons) - One of my favorite assignments was for the
the wind band setting of Riverdance - still canʼt shake the “6/8” pulse - very infectious. And
one of my most recent memorable string writing projects was for the Lincoln Center premier
of Russell Robinsonʼs chorus with orchestra work, De Profundis. In both cases, I acted as
an orchestrator (maintaining the integrity of the music) rather than as an arranger where one can
take some liberties with harmonic structure, rhythms, etc. - usually associated with jazz
"As for as the composing part, my models initially were the British wind band writers and "Americana" - Copeland and Ives - just wonderful material - for the player and the listener. For jazz band, the list is endless - Basie, Gil Evans, Thad Jones - and on and on. Commissions are often theme driven. The commissioning party might suggest a tribute to someone or some institution, a memorial, a celebration - sometimes “in the style of”; sometimes just write “what you want” - where the orchestration and arranging backround is essential is when these commmisions are for school groups. Keeping the writing within the limits of each group's performance level is critical. In all cases, I try to involve the students and director in the process - from inception through the publishing process - it is, after all music “education”. “Outside of school groups there are fewer constraints, which, in many ways, make the scoring easier.”
A consistent ASCAP Writers Award winner, Mr. Strommen continues his active publishing and commissioning schedule.