David Holsinger was born in Hardin, Missouri, December 26, 1945. His compositions have won four major competitions, including a two time ABA Ostwald Award. His compositions have also been finalists in both the DeMoulin and Sudler competitions. He holds degrees from Central Methodist College, Fayette, Missouri, and Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg. Holsinger has completed course work for a DMA at the University of Kansas. The composer was recently honored by Gustavus Adolphus College with the awarding of a Doctor of Humane Letters Degree for lifetime achievement in composition and the Gustavus Fine Arts Medallion, the division’s highest honor, designed and sculpted by renowned artist, Paul Granlund. Holsinger, as the fourth composer honored with this medal, joins a distinguished roster which includes Gunther Schuller, Jan Bender, and Csada Deak. Holsinger is the Conductor of the Wind Ensemble at Lee University, in Cleveland, Tennessee.
(short biography courtesy the American Bandmasters Association)
Holsinger is a prolific composer for band. While he has his occassional tics (ostinatos, an “everything including the kitchen sink” approach to percussion), his music is consistently thrilling to play. His faster pieces blaze by in a whirlwind of excitement, and his slower numbers are thoughtful and genuinely beautiful. It is for these reasons that he is a favorite of players and audiences alike.
Holsinger has his own website: davidrholsinger.com, which answers really ANY questions you might possibly have about him, including a fascinating testimonial about the search for his birth mother. There is much multi-media content as well, including videos of him ruminating on expressive performance. Definitely check it out! Also, Absolute Astronomy did an extensive profile on him that is worth a look.
The score for On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss (1989) provides the following program note:
On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss is a radical departure of style of this composer. The frantic tempos, the ebullient rhythms we associate with Holsinger are replaced with a restful, gentle, and reflective composition based on the 1876 Philip Bliss – Horatio Spafford hymn, “It is Well with my Soul“. Written to honor the retiring Principal of Shady Grove Christian Academy, On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss was presented as a gift from the SGCA Concert Band to Rev. Steve Edel in May of 1989.
Here is the North Texas Wind Symphony performing Holsinger’s version:
Here is a contemporary reading of the hymn, complete with the lyrics. They come from a dark place, penned by Spafford after he lost his four daughters in a shipwreck.