||Rudy Davenport is a freelance composer, pianist and church musician residing in Austin, Texas. Born in 1948 in Hayesville, North Carolina, he grew up surrounded by the natural beauty of the Nantahala National Forest of Western North Carolina. His deep appreciation for the mystery and majesty of these surroundings still profoundly affect his life and music.
Davenport’s background is a rich tapestry woven of diverse experiences. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Young Harris Junior College, Cardinal Stritch College and Florida State University, where he studied composition with Harold Shiffman and Dr. John Boda. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Sacred Heart School of Theology in Milwaukee, where he studied composition with the late John Downey, Composer-in-Residence at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He studied the music and writings of the Vaishnava devotional sect of Hinduism in India, and of Zen in a Zendo. While living in a Trappist Monastery, he learned about the Catholic mystical saints. Davenport has written music for and played in a rock band, worked with developmentally delayed children by using music therapy, taught piano, and for many years was the Director of Music at several large Catholic churches.
Although virtually a self-taught composer, his compositions have been well received for the clarity of form, accessibility of harmonic language and inventiveness of melody. Among the works premiering during the recent past are Soliloquy No. VI of St. Teresa of Avila, Painful Longing for God, for Soprano and Harpsichord/Piano; Songs of the Bride (from Song of Songs), a work for Soprano, Harpsichord/Piano, Oboe & Cello and Sonata for Oboe and Harpsichord/Piano. His Seven Innocent Dances, for Solo Harpsichord/Piano, a finalist in the Alienor International Competition for Harpsichord Composition and pieces from the Millennium Preludes, also finalists in the 2007 Alienor Competition, were separately published as part of collections of Alienor winners by Wayne Leopold Editions. Davenport’s compositions for Harpsichord have been featured in the releases of CDs by harpsichordists, Dr. Larry Palmer, at Southern Methodist University (Music of Rudy Davenport, Limited Editions Recording) and internationally known concert and recording artist, Elaine Funaro (Dances with Harpsichord on Centaur). These works have enjoyed several subsequent performances, the latest being Ms. Funaro’s Australian premiere of the Sonata for Oboe and Harpsichord/Piano and the Chamber Music Society of Wilmington's presentation of Songs of the Bride.
Davenport’s first recording, Remembering the Earth, a CD featuring twelve original solo piano pieces, received a nomination from Just Plain Folks, JPF, the largest independent association of music producers, for Best Instrumental of the Year for the track, Snow Carol. Music from his second CD, Christmas Wonder, a collection of twenty Christmas carols arranged for solo piano, was published by Morningstar Music Publisher as was Morning Has Broken, a collection of seven hymn arrangements. In 2009, Morningstar published a third arrangement collection of Christmas Wonder in addition to Darkness and Light, Seasonal Reflections for Piano. Davenport also composed original music for Texan Reagan Johnson’s film, JONAS, and has recently enjoyed three state premieres and subsequent performances of his major chamber music work, BYNA: Life Songs of a Southern Appalachian Woman of Cherokee Descent. The composer was awarded a Meet the Composer grant from the Southern Arts Federation for this work, and he and the BYNA ENSEMBLE were awarded an American Composer’s Forum ENCORE grant.
Davenport has just completed Shepherd of Souls, a commissioned anthem for choir and piano from the St. Thomas More Parish. He serves as a judge for the Austin District Music Teacher’s Association Original Composition Contest, and for the Hymn and Classical Playing Contests. While he hopes to find more time to compose, he contemplates working on a sonata for violin and piano next year.
Delilah Elsen has researched and crafted a half dozen plays. Chief among these is Ida Lewis, A Visit With The Heroine, a two-act play, based on the life and times of the renowned Victorian lighthouse keeper. This research led Elsen to write the biography of Ida Lewis which is now being considered by publishers. Ida Lewis, A Visit With The Heroine was produced by the Rhode Island Shakespeare Theatre for the city of Newport, Rhode Island’s 350th anniversary and for the Bicentennial of the United States Lighthouse Service. The play was brought back by popular demand for a six-week run the following season and scenes from the play formed the basis of A Conversation With Ida Lewis, a work which toured to libraries throughout Rhode Island as part of a Rhode Island state project, What A Difference A Bay Makes, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2003 Elsen wrote The Day the Wright Brother’s Airplane First Flew—A Day to Remember, a monologue based on material from the Published Writings of Wilbur and Orville Wright and from an interview with Captain John T. Daniels, a patrolman stationed at Kill Devil Hills Lifesaving Station. This work was first performed for the Chamber Music Society of Wilmington’s concert celebration of the First Flight and was later performed on public radio, WHQR, as part of the station’s First Flight celebration, December 17, 2003. This work was chosen by WHQR to be included in their 20th anniversary CD of best offerings. Elsen has recently crafted lyrics from her play, Byna, which is the basis of a major chamber music work, Byna: Life Songs of a Southern Appalachian Woman of Cherokee Descent. As manager of the BYNA PROJECT, Elsen formed the BYNA ENSEMBLE and shepherded the work through three state premieres and several subsequent performances. The BYNA score has now been completed and is available to interested musicians and to interested music patrons for donation to university music departments. Elsen is presently at work on Winter Star, a two-act play with music and is researching and writing a work based on the life of a Cherokee Indian chief, Connecourt, also known as “Old Hop,” who lived in the Cherokee tribal lands of Western NC and east Tennessee during the colonial period. Elsen is presently serving on the Artistic Committee of Chamber Music Wilmington, having completed a six-year term on the board, and has earned a certificate from Duke University in Non-Profit Management.