ECHO Featured Composer: Steve Owen

SOwenSteve Owen (composer, conductor, saxophonist) is a Philip H. Knight Professor of Music and director of the University of Oregon’s award-winning Jazz Studies Program.  A respected educator, Owen has presented clinics at MENC conventions across the nation and has directed All-State jazz ensembles in Colorado, Connecticut, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, California, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, and Minnesota as well as Oregon.  Steve is also a founder and co-director of the Oregon Jazz Festival, an annual workshop for college, junior high, and high school jazz ensembles, the University of Oregon Summer Jazz Improvisation Camp, and is on the faculty of the University of Kansas’ jazz camp.

As Director of Jazz Studies, Owen teaches courses in jazz composition/arranging, improvisation, repertoire study, and pedagogy.   He also directs the Oregon Jazz Ensemble (the first of three large jazz ensembles at Oregon) and one of the school’s ten jazz combos.  Recognized for their excellence in interpretation and performance of the wide variety of styles associated with jazz, U.O. ensembles have performed at every major jazz festival and educational convention in the Pacific Northwest.  Under Owen’s direction, the Oregon Jazz Ensemble has been selected the “Outstanding College Big Band” at the Reno Jazz Festival each year that the group has attended over the past 13 years.  The group performed at the 2005 International Association of Jazz Educator’s Convention in Long Beach, California and was a 2008 Downbeat Award Winner in the College Big Band category.  In 1991 Owen was one of two winners of the Ersted Award, the University of Oregon’s top faculty award for distinguished teaching and in 2007 was likewise honored with the university’s Excellence in Teaching Award.

A composer and arranger of national prominence, Owen’s works have been performed by Bobby McFerrin, Dave Weckl, Anne Marie Moss, as well as the nation’s finest college and professional jazz ensembles.  His compositions have been featured at numerous jazz festivals nationally and internationally including performances from 1986 – 2000 at International Association of Jazz Educators conferences.  Recent commissions have resulted in pieces performed and recorded in Germany by the HR Big Band and in Taiwan by the Taipei Jazz Orchestra as well as at jazz festivals in Colorado, Texas, Oregon, and Washington.  Steve’s own CD, Stand Up Eight, was just released by Origin/OA2 Records in February 2013 featuring nine of his works for large jazz ensemble.  As a saxophonist, Steve appears regularly as a soloist at high school and college festivals and is featured on two recent big band CDs – Dan Cavanagh’s “Pulse” and the Dan Gailey Jazz Orchestra “What Did You Dream” CD.   Steve’s music is published by UNC Jazz Press and Heritage JazzWorks.

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