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Kirke Mechem Biography

Kirke Mechem

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Born: 1925. Living in: United States

Kirke Mechem is a prolific composer with a catalogue of over 250 works. He enjoys an international presence, as ASCAP recently registered concert performances of his music in 42 countries. Born and raised in Kansas and educated at Stanford and Harvard Universities, Mechem conducted and taught at Stanford, and served as composer-in-residence for several years at the University of San Francisco. Mechem also lived in Europe, spending three years in Vienna where he came to the attention of Josef Krips, who later championed the composer's symphonies as conductor of the San Francisco Symphony. He has been honored and recognized for his contributions from such organizations as the United Nations, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Gallery, the American Choral Directors Association, and the Music Educators National Conference. He was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the National Opera Association.

Mechem's compositions cover almost every genre, but vocal music is the core of his work. His three-act opera Tartuffe has been staged over 375 times and performed in six countries. Songs of the Slave - a suite for bass-baritone, soprano, chorus, and orchestra from his opera John Brown - has toured to over 70 US cities. His extensive choral works have garnered him the title of "dean of American choral composers."