American composer and bassoonist Luke Blackburn (b. 1992) has been described as "a composer of finely worked and intricate sonorities that add up to simple and very expressive musical arguments," whose music is "delicious" (David Rakowski, composer) and “very witty and imaginative” (Lyra Society).
As a composer, Blackburn’s work brings elements of the natural world into the concert space and takes concert music to the great outdoors and other non-traditional venues. Musically, Blackburn develops a story based on his own research, observations, and experiences with the natural world, often representing his many memories growing up in Ocala, Florida. Inspired by the flora and fauna of the vast planet, he is currently developing a Menagerie Series, which is a collection of multimovement “docu-compositions” originally based on Camille Saint-Saëns’s Le carnival des animaux. Each suite within the collection considers the world from the perspective of various creatures or plants, usually native to the local environment where the piece is premiered. The series embodies the principle of conservation as an artistic practice by raising awareness of endangered species, promoting ecological preservation, and introducing audiences to their natural world.
Beyond his own music, Blackburn advocates for nature conservation as an artistic practice. Founded by Blackburn in 2019, Project EcoMusic is a collaborative that partners with arts organizations to demonstrate how they can impact the natural world through interdisciplinary collaboration and the adoption of innovative artistic business models. Project EcoMusic was developed to assist in paving the way towards immersive educational and artistic experiences, with a focus on developing a supportive and sustainable environmental platform.
Blackburn has been commissioned by ensembles such as Boston Musica Viva, Lyra Society, and ensemble vim, as well as had his music performed by Ensemble Dal Niente, the Guerilla Opera Company, Ludovico Ensemble, Corvus Ensemble, Lydian String Quartet, and many other solo and chamber ensembles throughout the country.
During the 2020–21 season, Blackburn has been appointed as a Composition Fellow with Ensemble Vim (Atlanta) and Artistic Coordinator for Dinosaur Annex (Boston). In 2019, he completed an artist residency with Composing in the Wilderness (Whittier, AK), and was scheduled to attend the Brevard Summer Music Institute as a composer and teaching fellow in 2020 (canceled due to COVID-19). He has previously served as director of New Music Brandeis and was the president of the Society of Composers: University of Florida Chapter. Blackburn has been honored with several awards, including the winner of the Lyra Society’s 2021 Costello Composition Competition for his harp writing, Boston Musica Viva's Write it Now commissioning initiative, Brandeis University's Connected Ph.D. Grant, the A. Didier Graeffe Composition Scholarship, and the Most Outstanding Student at the University of Florida’s College of the Arts, as well as multiple nominations from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Blackburn is a passionate educator and advocate for contemporary composers and musicians. As a teaching assistant and fellow within Brandeis University’s Department of Music, he has taught a variety of subjects, from composition to music fundamentals, engaging students with and without backgrounds in music. In 2020, Blackburn was awarded Brandeis University’s Outstanding Student Teacher Award. He has additionally served as Composition Mentor for Brandeis’s Undergraduate Composition Collective and has taught bassoon for Great Southern Music’s instrumental program.
Blackburn is pursuing a Ph.D. in Music Composition and Theory at Brandeis University studying with Yu-Hui Chang, Erin Gee, and Eric Chasalow, where he also completed his M.F.A. in Music Composition and Theory with David Rakowski. He holds two B.M. degrees in Music Composition and Bassoon Performance from the University of Florida, studying with Paul Richards, James Paul Sain, and Paul Koonce (composition), as well as Shannon Lowe and Anthony Anurca (bassoon).