J. Anthony Allen is a creator of things. Sometimes they’re related to music, but not always. He uses his background as a composer to inform whatever he sets his mind to creating, whether it’s
music for an orchestra, a business, an app, a new electronic instrument, or ideas for his next composition (ask him about sailing the Arctic in nonstop sunlight).
While he was born and raised in Michigan and now lives in Minneapolis, Allen and his work have traveled the world, cropping up in Denmark, the Netherlands, Hungary, the Czech Republic, France, and Italy.
He’s written music for almost any medium you can imagine, from film and the Minnesota Orchestra to TV, radio, and video games. (More on that later.)
As a creator, he wants to push forward with a purpose. He’s all about challenging the exclusivity of concert music, of music education, of composition. He founded Slam Academy in 2011 in Minneapolis because he wanted to make electronic music education accessible and affordable. To a similar end, he wrote a book called Music Theory for Electronic Music Producers. In his compositions, he draws on developments in diverse musical communities. Allen is all about connecting the dots and using one area of his expertise to inform another.
Which is why he’s a: composer, producer, songwriter, engineer, sound designer, DJ, remix artist, multimedia artist, performer, inventor, Ableton Live Certified Trainer, entrepreneur, and Assistant Professor of Music, Media, and Management at Augsburg University. You can find his music on all of the downloadable and streaming services including Amazon, Apple, and Spotify.
Allen can’t seem to stop studying. He holds degrees from the University of Minnesota (PhD, Music Composition with a minor in Visual Arts), Peabody Conservatory (MM, Composition and MM Electronic Music), and Grand Valley State University (BA, Music). While at the University of Minnesota, his primary instructors were Judith Lang Zaimont, Douglas Geers, Christopher Theofanidis, Bruno Amato, McGregor Boyle, Kurt Ellenberger, Benjamin Broening, Pieter Snapper, and Robert Schectman. He’s also studied at the Centre de Création of Music Iannis Xenakis (CCMIX) in Paris, France.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune named Allen a “Mover and Shaker” in their business column as he’s constantly searching out new opportunities and adding accolades and accomplishments to his résumé. To name just a few:
Minnesota Orchestra, Aspen Conductors Orchestra, and Peabody Conservatory Orchestra have performed his work. His work has also been presented at the following conferences: International Computer Music Conferences, Society of Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS), Electronic Music Midwest festivals, Spark Festivals of Electronic Music and Art, Music at the Anthology Festival (MATA), June in Buffalo Festival, Aspen Music Festival, and Guitar Foundation of America National Conference.
While at the 2004 and 2005 Aspen Music Festivals, Allen received the Susan and Ford Schumann Award. He’s also won the Prix D’Ete Award (First Prize, Peabody Conservatory), Macht Orchestral Prize and P. Bruce Blair Award (Peabody Conservatory), SCI/ASCAP Student Commission Prize (regional winner), two Peabody Institute Career Development Grants, Arts Quarter Collective Grant (University of Minnesota), a Meet the Composer Creative Connections grant, many ASCAP Standard Awards, several grants from American Composers Forum, and the first-ever Young Alumni Award (from his alma mater, Grand Valley State University). (That one meant a lot.)
His recent publications have appeared in Organized Sound (Cambridge University Press), The Living Music Journal, and proceedings of the third annual Spark Festival, not to mention his Music Theory for Electronic Musicians, available now on Amazon.com.
Allen wants other people to be creators of things, too, so he devotes a lot of his time to teaching. He’s taught in Amsterdam at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, in the Computer Music Department of Peabody Conservatory, at the University of Minnesota, and at academies and institutions throughout the Midwest covering subjects like Advanced Notation and Introduction to Music Software and MIDI as well as classical, jazz, folk, and rock guitar.
He has also spent significant time on a boat sailing the Arctic writing music to nonstop sunlight.
J. Anthony Allen is a creator of many things. He creates music, he creates classes, he creates community. He organizes and arranges, studies and teaches, codes and revises, collaborates, and performs.