As a composer, guitarist, and teaching artist, Chris Cresswell has shared the stage with Pulitzer Prize winning poets and top 40 country stars, symphony orchestras and first time musicians. He can usually be found composing new works for artists and ensembles around the globe, helping young people write their first songs, advocating for the arts with Congressional staffers and local school boards, or covering the latest Taylor Swift single at a camp fire.
The 2016-2017 season featured the world premiere of his viola concert, the inner workings of a throat exposed, at the Bozar in Brussels, Belgium and the recording of his chamber work, I find I have less to say, with Decibel at the Real World Studios in Bath, England. He is the founder, artistic director, and guitarist for the 315 Ensemble, who made their debut at the Frontiers Festival in Birmingham, England and are currently recording a studio record, due to come out in the Fall 2017. Upcoming projects include an opera for the Birmingham based organization, Flat White Opera, and a new chamber work for Central New York based organization, Society for New Music.
He has received awards and commissions from around the world, including the America Composers Forum, Jerome Foundation, National Union of Students, The Eden Project, The National Band Association, and the New York State Council for the Arts, among others. His music has been presented by Kathleen Supove’s Music with a View, the British Forum for Ethnomusicology/Royal Music Association, the National Student Electronic Music Event (N_SEME), MUSLab (Mexico), Hot Air Music Festival, Rhymes with Opera, and the Foundation for Emerging Technologies and Arts, among others. He has received additional performances at the Bozar, Symphony Hall, the San Francisco Conservatory, San Jose International Short Film Festival, Coney Island Film Festival, Distrito Federal Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Jardín Sonoro, The Firehouse Space, The National Opera Center, the Tenri Cultural Institute, The Flea Theater, MoMA, and the Kennedy Center. He has held artist residencies with LEAP Ensemble (Birmingham, England), at Estalagem da Ponta do Sol (Portugal), Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, Syracuse University, and Lafayette College.
Cresswell remains active as a teaching artist and educator. From 2016-2017 he was a visiting lecturer at the Birmingham Junior Conservatoire, where he taught music theory classes and maintained a composition studio. In 2014, he built the music program at Lake of the Woods and Greenwoods Summer Camp, where he continues to serve as the music director. In the summer of 2017 he will return to Central New York to lead Society for New Music’s Young Composers Corner, a program he ran in 2011 and 2012. Cresswell serves as the co-director and tutor with Birmingham Conservatoire’s Young Composer Project, working with 13-18 year olds in the West Midlands area. He has taught masterclasses at Lafayette College and Syracuse University and has been a guest teaching artist at Chancellor Academy, Chapel Hill Academy, and Cazenovia High School. He served as a teaching assistant with the Renee Crown Honors Program at Syracuse University, co-developing a course that explored contemporary classical music with non-musicians.
When not engaging with the creative side of the arts, Cresswell remains active as an arts administrator and advocate. He has advocated in Congressional offices on behalf of the arts and arts education. From 2011 to 2014 he was a member of the promotion department at Boosey & Hawkes, regularly working with today’s leading composers and arts organizations. As a freelance administrator, he has worked with New Music USA, New York State Council for the Arts, Quiet City Chamber Ensemble, Tempus Continuum, Symphoria, Syracuse Children’s Chorus, and the Society for New Music, among others. While at Syracuse University he was the founder and director of Cantus Novus, a concert series featuring student works. He continues to serve on the board of the Society for New Music in Syracuse, NY and The Octopus Collective in Cumbria, England.
Graduating Magna Cum Laude from Syracuse University in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Music in Composition, Cresswell has studied with Donald Bohlen, James O. Welsch, Andrew Waggoner, Gregory Mertl, Nicolas Scherzinger, Errollyn Wallen, and Zibuokle Martinaityte. In addition to composition, he has studied tuba with Raymond Stewart, Michael Coldren, and William Harris, conducting with James O. Welsch, and classical guitar with Kenneth Meyer. He began pursuing an MMus in Composition at the Birmingham Conservatoire in September 2015 where he studies with Ed Bennett and Joe Cutler.