David "Clay" Mettens

The Chicago Tribune has praised the music of David “Clay” Mettens (b.1990) as “a thing of remarkable beauty,” displaying a “sensitive ear for instrumental color.” His recent work seeks to distill the strange and sublime from the familiar. He reflects upon the experience of wonder in music that ranges from rich and sonorous to bright and crystalline, seeking expressive immediacy in lucid forms and dramatic shapes.

His work has been recognized with a 2020 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, Ithaca College’s 2018 Heckscher Foundation Composition Prize, first prize in the 2018 Salvatore Martirano Composition Competition, a 2016 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, and the 2015 SCI/ASCAP graduate student commission. He received a commission from the American Opera Initiative for a one-act opera, which was premiered in December 2015 by the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. His dissertation piece stain, bloom, moon, rain, was recorded by the Grossman Ensemble and released on their first album, Fountain of Time, in August 2020. The Chicago Reader described the piece as “hypnotic and lithe... construct[ing] a riveting drama out of humble building blocks.”

Additionally, his works have been performed by Spektral Quartet, Yarn/Wire, the New York Vituoso Singers, soprano Tony Arnold and the soundSCAPE Festival Sinfonietta, on the Contempo Series at the University of Chicago, and by Ensemble Dal Niente.

He is currently a PhD candidate in music composition at the University of Chicago, where he has studied with Anthony Cheung, Sam Pluta, and Augusta Read Thomas. He earned his masters degree at the Eastman School of Music and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of South Carolina with a degree in music composition and a clarinet performance certificate.


Composition Seminar

Teaching Experience

MUSI 10300 Introduction to the Materials and Design of Music (Lecturer Winter ‘19)
MUSI 10400 Introduction to Music Analysis and Criticism (CA Fall ‘19)
MUSI 26100 Introduction to Composition (CA Winter ‘17 and Spring ‘20)
MUSI 26618 Electronic Music I: Composition with Sound (CA Fall ‘18, Lecturer Winter ’20 and Spring ’20)
MUSI 27300 Topics: History of Western Music III (Spring ’18)