Composer Profile – Josiah Catalan

Josiah Catalan was selected from a pool of over 60 applicants to be First Prize winner of Megalopolis Saxophone Orchestra’s annual Call for Scores and is MSO’s current Composer in Residence. MANA will present Catalan’s Rift for saxophone quartet this November and his newly commissioned saxophone orchestra work with the MSO in the spring. 

“I am honored to be this year’s composer-in-residence for the MSO and am currently composing a new full-length piece to be premiered in the upcoming season’s Bay Area concerts in April 2020. Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to compose a new piece for saxophone quartet, Rift, which was selected through MSO’s call for scores and will be performed by the MANA Quartet in November 2019. Many of the compositional ideas behind Rift are derived from my recent fascination in attempting to creating compelling musical moments through rather simple structures. As a music listener, some of the most enjoyable moments in music I have experienced have come from simple ideas that are constructed in a creative way that subtly defies formal expectations and exploits the timbral richness of the melodic and harmonic material through simple means. Rift attempts to explore subtle disruptions in sustained and resonant material through combining extended saxophone techniques in the simple harmonic and melodic structures used throughout the music.”

Josiah Tayag Catalan is a Filipino-American born in New York City and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Recently, his compositional interests have become centered around discovering the byproducts resulting from the intersects of merging alternative modes of temporality and harmony by fusing elements that stem from influences in traditional, avant-garde, popular, and Southeast Asian musics. First prizes were awarded to Josiah from the NACUSA Young Composer’s Competition as well as the Sacramento State Festival of New American Music Student Composer’s Competition. He has also been a finalist in competitions such as the Thailand International Competition Festival and ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer’s Awards. Josiah’s music has been performed internationally by individuals and groups such as the Empyrean Ensemble, Ensemble Dal Niente, Ensemble Mise-en, Lydian and Arditti String Quartets, the Iridium saxophone quartet, percussionist Chris Froh, violist Ellen Ruth Rose, and violinist Miranda Cuckson.

There are several premieres and performances planned for the 2019-2020 with ensembles such as the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Earplay, Grey Matter Ensemble, Zofo Piano Duo, UC Davis Sinfonietta, and Chris Froh.

Presently, Josiah is pursuing his Ph.D. in music theory and composition at the University of California, Davis. During his time there, he has studied composition with Sam Nichols, Kurt Rhode, and Mika Pelo. He also holds a degree from the Sacramento State School of Music where he studied composition with Stephen Blumberg and Leo Eylar, and violin with Anna Presler and Ian Swensen. 

Josiah Catalan, Composer