Composer, Professor of Music, Dr. Robert Boury is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music (1968) and the University of Michigan (1972). His main teachers were David Diamond, Mario Davidovsky, Leslie Bassett and Ross Lee Finney.
In Ann Arbor, in the late sixties, Boury was part of the revival of ragtime, led by William Albright and Bill Bolcom. His piano rags and blues were admired by Eubie Blake at the 1971 Toronto ragtime Festival. “Now that’s ragtime” Blake told the audience after Boury played his “Varsity Rags”.
Also in 1971, Boury was awarded the Joseph H. Bearnes Prize from Columbia University for his orchestral work, “Grilli”. The work was performed at the Pan-American Festival of Brazil that summer.
Following graduation, and wanting a break from the classroom, Boury worked in a Midwest recording studio and then did song transcriptions for Capitol records in Los Angeles in the early seventies. He then returned to his hometown of Wheeling West Virginia to open a piano studio. Before long though, all the children were writing songs.
The composer was then invited to create and staff new programs for Lansing Community College, in 1977. His ground breaking Pop Rock Program for an Associate degree attracted national press, and led him to his current position as Resident Composer at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Boury’s music covers all genres, piano music, chamber music, choral works, a comic opera, an opera seria, a ragtime operetta and many art songs, mostly to twentieth century poetry.
From 1995 to 2000, the composer was a Visiting Artist to eight North Little Rock schools, (K-6) where he co-taught core subjects (Social Studies, Math, etc.) through the lens of Songwriting. The schools chose a different continent each year and had a festival at years’ end at Wildwood Park for the performing Arts. Boury has continued to volunteer in the schools, at church and at in-service presentations for teachers.
Boury hosts a Songwriters Showcase for his students each semester. In 2002, his composition student, Philip Gordon won the National Art Song Competition and Gordon performed his cycle, “Deep early Snow” (to poems of Jane Kenyon) at the National Federation of Music Club’s national convention in Little Rock that summer.
His commissioned work, “To Dream Again” (four songs from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”) were given their first performance in the summer of 2003, at the 100th Anniversary Convention of Sigma Alpha Iota, in Dearborn, Michigan, by soprano, Victoria Wefer. The work was published by C.F. Peters in 2005.
In 2004, his university commissioned him to create a work in honor of the Opening of the Clinton Library in Little Rock. The work, “Of History and Hope” is a setting of Miller Williams’ second inaugural poem, and is set for mezzo soprano, gospel choir and piano. The work had its premiere by mezzo soprano, Leigh Holman, in November, 2004, and a copy was presented to the Clinton Library.
In the Summer of 2004, Boury completed his first CD, “Migration”, which he describes as “Breath Music”. Influenced by World Music, the composer sought to create works that are based on the length of the breath rather than “leg music”. Boury is currently working on a children’s opera based on a Native American tale. He lives in Little Rock with his wife, Angie (who is also a composer and artist), and their daughter Susan, who is a dancer, and who has fallen in love with Chemistry.