Kevin Francis Joseph Harris was born in Kansas City, Kansas on March 19, 1965. When he was 7 years of age, his parents enrolled him in piano lessons and he continued his studies until he was 11 years old when he expressed an interest in music composition. It was at this time he composed his first piece of music, a short work for piano called Kleine Klavierstück in C Major, WoO 1. He wrote the piece by hand in the exercise pad his teacher had given him for doing music theory exercises. There are some corrections which were made by his teacher, but the work’s theme was his own invention.
When he was 12 he began taking an interest in other instruments: percussion and the clarinet. He enrolled in his school’s orchestra and played percussion for a short time then moved to the clarinet. Within 2 weeks of taking up the woodwind instrument his teacher was so impressed, he moved Harris into Advanced Band. Harris stopped playing the clarinet a couple years later.
By the time Harris was 23 years old he had once again become interested in piano and music composition. It was about this time he met his friend Claude, an amateur composer who would generously spend time after work and during lunch breaks teaching Harris the basics of music composition. His efforts came to fruition in early 1993 when Harris composed a set of three Klavierstück (Piano Pieces), followed by his first String Quartet in F Major. In 1994 Claude moved to Seattle, Washington and left Harris to continue his studies on his own. Over the next two years Harris would teach himself what he needed to know.
= The Mozart Years, 1994-2000 =
Harris then began a period of prolific music production. From 1994 until 2000 Harris composed over 50 compositions, ranging from simple piano pieces to chamber works. In 1997 he began to consider writing an opera, but abandoned the idea. The sketches he made for the opera did, however, become parts of other compositions. The overture became the first movement of his Sinfonia in C Major. The opening Aria for the opera became a Concert Aria for Soprano and Orchestra. By 1999 however, Harris began to slow down and in 2000 stopped composing completely.
= 2001-2004 =
Harris returned to composing in early 2001 and produced a piece for piano, a single movement Quintet for Strings and began working on a Violin Sonata in August 2001. Work on this piece was interrupted when, on September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center and The Pentagon were the targets of terrorist attacks. Harris was emotionally distraught over the events of that day and on September 12th composed a piece which would be one of his crowning achievements: his Adagio for a Nation in D minor, Op. 24. When this piece was made available on the internet in mid-September it was applauded as a great tribute to all those who lost their lives and to the heroes of that day. Harris then went on to complete his Violin Sonata.
In 2002 he met Jeffrey Brody, an American composer and director of the Longwood Opera Company in Boston. Maestro Brody took Harris under his wing for two years, teaching him further in the art of composition, with particular focus on harmony.
In 2003 he was commissioned to compose a set of works for a wedding, as the bride wished to have something unique for her special day. Harris only had a few weeks to compose the pieces and chose to commit them to memory rather than take the time to write it all down on paper. At the wedding he performed the pieces from memory and they were a big success. He would finally write the pieces in January 2004 and called them Musica del Nozze, Op. 26. He followed them up with one of his most powerful pieces for piano, the Fantasie für Klavier, Op. 27 and the Nachtmusic für Kinder (Night Music for Children), Op. 28.
In late 2005 Harris resumed composing after a break of nearly two years, setting forth pen to paper to begin composing his first full Symphony. However, the Symphony was put aside and never completed. After losing his sister to a drunk driver, his drive to compose music vanished.
= 2010-present =
In late 2010, Harris released his first composition in five years: Duet for Piano and Oboe in C Major, Op. 30. He would go on to release the Klavierstück, Op. 31 and in February 2011 released his Orchestral Fantasy in F, Op. 32. In these works we hear a dramatic shift in style, away from the late 18th century and into the early-mid 19th century. Beethoven is one of Harris’ biggest influences after Mozart, so it’s no surprise to hear this style change. Harris has been composing 2-4 pieces a year since he resumed composing in 2011. He is planning to increase his output in 2015, depending on how much time he has to devote to music.
= Harold Kaska =
In 1993 Harris met Harold Kaska after dedicating his first three compositions to his Great Aunt Kathryn, who was Harold’s mother-in-law. Harold and Harris became fast friends despite their great difference in age (Harold being thirty-nine years older), and Harold soon became Harris’ biggest supporter. Over the next eight years Harold would inspire Harris to keep composing great music. The two would talk to one another on the phone for hours every weekend, discussing new opera productions in San Francisco, Harold’s military service in World War II and trying to get Harris to listen to works by more modern composers. One of these would be Puccini’s La Boheme, which Harris refused to listen to. On April 27th, Harold called Harris and told him he wasn’t in the best of health. That his stomach had been bothering him for some time. He told Harris to listen to La Boheme from start to finish, to give it a honest listen, Harris agreed. Two days later Harold passed away in his sleep at the age of 76, Harris was devastated. Harold had been his best friend, like a second grandfather to him and, not to mention, one of the biggest reasons he composed music. Harris fulfilled his promise and listened to La Boheme in its entirety. He disliked it, but carried out Harold’s last request. Harris hadn’t composed any new music for nearly two years and with Harold’s passing, he felt compelled to resume. A couple weeks after Harold’s death he composed the Klavierstück No. 8 in C Major, Op. 22. It would mark the end of Harris’ Mozart period as he began to develop a hybrid style of his own. It would mark the beginning of a more active period of composition.
= Memberships =
Harris is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers – also known as ASCAP, The American Composers Forum and The Society of Composers.
Official web site: http://opus.pixelworxfactory.com