Based in New York City, Alison Nowak has been active as a composer, violinist and teacher for over 50 years. She is descended from musicians on both sides, her father being Lionel Nowak, pianist, composer (ACA member) and Bennington College faculty member (1948-1993). From birth, she heard his daily practicing of Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, his own music and that of family friend, Carl Ruggles. She grew up listening to the weekly faculty concerts at Bennington College and to concerts of brand new music at the annual Composers Conference (where she herself was a young composer in the mid- 70s).
She received her BA in music from Bennington College, where she studied composition with Louis Calabro, Henry Brant and Vivian Fine and violin with Eric Rosenblith, Sylvia Rosenberg and Jacob Glick.
It was Jack Glick who encouraged her to apply to the Columbia University graduate school program in music composition in order to study with Charles Wuorinen. Wuorinen became her principal teacher and his music an inspiration to her.
During her first decade in New York, her musical life was further invigorated by her experience as personal assistant for seven years to Otto Luening (he was writing his autobiography, “Odyssey of an American Composer” at the time) and as composer/violinist for five years with the Composers Ensemble — a group of six composers who produced and performed concerts of music they wrote for each other.
After receiving her MA and DMA from Columbia, she taught at Union College, the 92nd St. Y, the New School and Columbia University Teachers College. As a violinist, she had the great good fortune of studying in New York with Joyce Robbins and was a member of the Greenwich (CT) Symphony Orchestra for over 25 years, as well as a long-time chamber music coach.
She is the recipient of commissions, awards, grants and residencies; and her music has been performed to wide acclaim. Her catalog of works at ACA include solos, vocal, chamber and orchestral music and a one-act opera.
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