Richard Festinger has been a prominent and highly regarded figure in American contemporary music since the early 1980’s. An early interest in jazz in the 1970’s took him to Boston, where he worked with Gary Burton, Herb Pomeroy and Mick Goodrick at the Berklee School of Music, and he subsequently led his own groups as a jazz performer in the San Francisco Bay area before studying composition with Andrew Imbrie at the University of California in Berkeley.
A long time resident of Northern California, in 1985 Festinger founded the well-known San Francisco based contemporary music ensemble Earplay, which he directed for many years. In 1990 he joined the music faculty as professor of music theory and composition at San Francisco State University, where he is also Artistic Director of the Morrison Artists Series, San Francisco’s longest established presenter of professional chamber music concerts.
Festinger’s extensive catalogue includes more than 70 compositions, including solo, chamber, orchestral, vocal and choral music. His works have been composed for many of the most distinguished performers and ensembles in the field of contemporary music, as well as such prominent ensembles as the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, the Redwood Symphony Orchestra, and the Alexander String Quartet.
His work has been widely recognized by for its elegance and emotive power. Frank J. Oteri, writing for the 2011 Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, describes Festinger’s music as “notable for its combination of propulsive energy with an impeccable sense of poise and balance.” In his article on Festinger’s recordings in the Journal of the Society for American Music, Joshua Levine writes of Festinger’s work as “vibrant, skillfully wrought... intellectually and viscerally compelling music.” WQXR Radio has called him “an American master.”
The numerous awards and honors that have accrued to him include major commissions from the Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library of Congress and the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, and his work has received the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Aaron Copland Fund for music. The American Academy of Arts and Letters has twice recognized his work, with both the Walter Hinrichsen Award and an Academy Award; and he has participated as a featured composer in numerous festivals and residencies in North America, Europe and China.
Festinger’s music is published by C.F. Peters Corporation, and Wildcat Canyon Press. Recordings of his works are available on the Bridge, Centaur, CRI, CRS and Naxos International labels.