David Clay Mettens

Photo: Hanna Hurwitz

Photo: Hanna Hurwitz

David “Clay” Mettens (b.1990) is a composer of acoustic and electroacoustic concert music. His recent work seeks to distill the strange and sublime from the familiar. He explores moments of elemental beauty and wonder in music marked by detailed engagement with instrumental color, from rich and sonorous to bright and crystalline. He seeks expressive immediacy in lucid forms and dramatic shapes. 

He has been commissioned and performed by ensembles across the United States and as part of the Ritsos Project in Samos, Greece. Recently, his works have been performed at the North American Saxophone Alliance Region 2 Conference, by OSSIA on the Cornell Contemporary Chamber Players series, and on the Café MoMus new music series at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. At Eastman, his works have been featured on OSSIA, Composers’ Forum, Graduate Composers’ Sinfonietta, and Computer Music Center concerts. His compositions for large ensemble have been performed or read by the Eastman Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra and Wind Orchestra, the Elon University Wind Ensemble, the Brevard Sinfonia, and the University of South Carolina Symphonic Winds. 

His orchestra piece “Sleeping I am carried…” was selected for the 24th Annual Underwood New Music Readings with the American Composers Orchestra. The piece was also the winner of Eastman’s 2014 Wayne Brewster Barlow Composition Prize, and received a premiere with the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra in October 2014. He was a finalist for the 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards and a regional finalist for the 2012 SCI/ASCAP Student Commission Competition. In the summer of 2013, he studied composition at the Brevard Music Center with Robert Aldridge and David Dzubay, and attended the 2014 New Music on the Point Chamber Music Festival. 

In the fall of 2015, he will enter the PhD composition program at the University of Chicago. He earned his masters degree at the Eastman School of Music, where he studied composition with Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, David Liptak, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, and Robert Morris, and computer music with Allan Schindler. A native of Covington, KY, he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of South Carolina with a degree in music composition and a clarinet performance certificate. He was a recipient of the McNair Scholarship, the top award USC gives to out-of-state students, and the 2013 Arthur M. Fraser Award from the School of Music. There, his composition teachers were John Fitz Rogers and Fang Man. 

He has presented his research on the music of Thomas Adès at the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition 30th Anniversary Conference hosted by the University of Louisville and the first annual THEMUS graduate-student music theory and musicology conference at Temple University. In 2012, he was awarded a USC Magellan Scholar Grant for a research project involving pipe organs, spectral music, and computer music under the guidance of faculty mentor Reginald Bain. Website: mettensmusic.com