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Prof added to Ivy League Library

Jake Lacey/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Daniel Asia has been the head of the composition department at the UA School of Music since 1988. Late last year, Yale University purchased the complete archives of Asia's compositions.
By Seth Mauzy
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, January 13, 2006
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UA music composition professor Daniel Asia joined the ranks of other illustrious American composers when the Yale University Irving S. Gilmore Music Library purchased his complete archives last August for an undisclosed amount.

Asia has been compiling and sending the manuscripts, letters, and other paraphernalia to Yale over the last month in what the composer describes as an "ongoing process."

Asia has been the head of the UA's composition department since his arrival in 1988. He teaches private composition lessons as well as music 534: Music Since 1950. He is also the conductor of the Arizona Contemporary Ensemble.

"It's an honor for him as well as the school," said Peter McAllister, director of the UA School of Music. "It places his music and his future music in a great library system, and ensures that his original notations, as well as his notes, will be preserved."

Asia was modest about the honor, saying he was "pretty pleased" that his works would be kept alongside other distinguished American composers like Charles Ives and Virgil Thomson.

"What's nice about it is that I was a student (at Yale), and started my career there," Asia said. "I feel like I've come full circle now that (Yale) is acknowledging the importance of my work."

The Archive represents more than 25 years of the composer's life, and contains the original manuscripts for all of his important works.

It also includes recordings of Asia conducting and performing his music with numerous international ensembles, including the New York-based ensemble Musical Elements, which Asia founded, as well as more than 20 years of select personal correspondence with other noted composers, including Earle Brown and Steven Albert.

New compositions of Asia's will also be added to the archives if he approves them.

"Anything new that I write, at my discretion, goes to them as I'm inclined to send it," Asia said. "Having it all in one place makes it easier to deal with. Why wait till I'm dead?"

Kendall Crilly, a librarian at the Yale Music Library, said that the idea to preserve the Asia archives began two years ago as a deal to purchase a single composition.

"We purchased the manuscript sketches and score for Dan's guitar piece, 'Your Cry Will Be a Whisper,' which was commissioned and premiered by our guitar professor here at Yale, Ben Verdery," Crilly said in an e-mail from New Haven, Conn.

Asia said this led to a meeting two years later at a restaurant in Grand Central Station that ended with Yale agreeing to purchase Asia's entire archives, though neither party would disclose the price that was agreed upon.

"Dan was on my list of Yale-educated composers whose materials really needed to be part of our collection," Crilly said. "So it was a natural progression from purchasing the single manuscript to eventually acquiring the entire archive."

Though Asia was awarded his master's in music from Yale in 1977, Crilly said the decision to preserve Asia's work was based more on his works' historical significance.

"We have a number of archival collections devoted to our composition professors that go all the way back to ... the founding of the School of Music in the 1890s, but ... we unfortunately do not have the resources to collect the archives of all of them," Crilly said. "Instead, we look for representative graduates whose collections reflect a moment in our institutional history, and whose music will be of interest to future scholars and performers."

Crilly said Asia was an obvious choice out of many of Yale's distinguished composition graduates. "And, of course," he said, "he writes really wonderful music."

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