After completing a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in 1979 with
Dominick Argento, 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. Currently
he serves on the national council of the Society of Composers Inc. (SCI)
as the Co-Chair of the Pacific Northwest region. Among his awards is
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 subsequently
by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra,
the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra in Oakland, and the LSU Contemporary
Music Festival Orchestra. He was the 1997 Composer of the Year for the
Washington State Music Teachers' Association, and winner of the 1997
Composer Fellowship for the Idaho Commission on the Arts. He took second
place in the Tampa Bay Composers' Forum Excellence in Chamber Music
Composition Competition for 2002, and first prize in the M.A.C.R.O.
International Composition Competition 2002-2003.
Composer-in-residence at Wolf Trap 1979
entitled Seven Degrees of Freedom (for combined woodwind quintet and string quartet) for the “All-Nations Ensemble” of Southeast Asia. The premiere took place in Bangkok, October 5, 2003. He spent the month of April 2005 in residence at Yaddo composing his second piano concerto. Argersinger created the Festival of Contemporary Art Music at Washington State University in 1998, and remains its Director.
|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 armé, 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." Missa l'homme armé 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, medieval and renaissance music, Jungian theories of the unconscious, and astronomy. 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, who were in turn students of Hugo Weisgall, Ernst Krenek, Paul Hindemith, and Bernard Rogers, Argersinger is guided by aesthetic beliefs which spring from the compositional genetic code he inherited.