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Pieces with poetic titles are quite in keeping with many of PAUL CHIHARA's compositions, some of which clearly have programmatic or picturesque allusions, e.g., Branches; Willow, Willow; Rain Music; Forest Music, etc. These titles by no means represent even the majority of the composer's large output, but rather indicate a certain impressionistic creative imagination. Indeed, Chihara's widely performed concert works, which are concerned with the evolution and expression of highly contrasting colors, textures, and emotional levels, include symphonies, concertos, chamber music, choral compositions, and ballets. He has received commissions from many sources: The Guggenheim, Fromm, and Naumburg Foundations, and such orchestras as the Boston, London, Cleveland, and Chicago Symphonies, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
On the other side of Chihara's creative ledger is his "commercial" work, the music he has composed for more than 90 motion pictures and series for television, working with many famed directors, among them Sidney Lumet, Louis Malle, Michael Ritchie, and Arthur Penn. He also has credits for Broadway shows.
Born in Seattle in 1938, Chihara received his D.M.A. from Cornell University in 1965. In addition to studying with Robert Palmer at Cornell, his principal teachers were Nadia Boulanger in Paris (where he won the Lili Boulanger Memorial Award), Ernst Pepping in Berlin, and Gunther Schuller in Tanglewood. With Toru Takemitsu, he was Composer-in-Residence at the Marlboro Music Festival of 1971.
He is an Adjunct Professor of Music at UCLA.