Office: Kimbrough 260F
Dr. Charles Argersinger
Professor Emeritus of Music
After completing a Ph. D. at the University of Minnesota in 1979, Charles Argersinger went on to teach at California State University, DePaul University, and at Washington State University, where he is presently coordinator of composition and theory. Along the way, he has been composer-in-residence at the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC and has held residencies at San Diego State University, the University of Missouri - Kansas City, Central Washington University, and Eastern Oregon State University. He taught at the Interlochen Center for the Arts during the summers of 1977-83. Currently he serves on the national council of the Society of Composers (SCI) as the Co-Chair of the Pacific
Argersinger has received prizes, grants, and commissions from many organizations and universities, including the 1995 United Nations first prize for a brass fanfare for the 50th Anniversary of the U.N. His Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orchestra was recorded by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago. It was premiered by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in 1992, and has been performed by the Kansas City Symphony, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, by the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra in Oakland. His works have premiered at the Carnegie Recital Hall in New York, at international festivals, at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, and at national conferences of CMS, SCI, SEAMUS, and MENC. He is the 1997 Composer of the Year for the Washington State Muisc Teachers Association and winner of the 1997 Composer Fellowship from the Idaho Commission for the Arts.
In the tradition of new music in every age, his work has been the recipient of controversy as well. The premiere of his choral mass, Missa l'homme arme, by a university choir was obstructed by the American Civil Liberties Union for an alleged violation of the constitutional separation of church and state. The firestorm of publicity in television reports and over twenty newspaper articles in the Pacific Northwest ultimately drew the attention of the national press, when columnist Nat Hentoff wrote in the 22 August 1992 Washington Post that the ACLU had in this case "built a wall of separation higher than even Thomas Jefferson could have imagined." The Missa l'homme arme was ultimately premiered on 26 April 1992.
In an era often dominated by the exercise of compositional technique for its own sake, Charles Argersinger has devoted his career to writing music that resonates in the psyche of the listener, drawing together symbols of past and present with more abstract, universal gestures of musical experience. Striving for meaning that transcends the syntax of the music's surface, his works seek an equilibrium of intellect, emotion, and intuition. They mirror his long-standing interests in such diverse realms as Greek mythology, Renaissance music, Jungian theories of the unconscious, and modern technology. The course of his philosophy flows naturally from his own humanistic views, and reflects his lineage as a composer. As a student of Dominick Argento, Grant Fletcher, Paul Fetler, and Ronald LoPresti, Bernard Rogers, Argersinger is guided by aesthetic beliefs which spring from the compositional genetic code he inherited.