Nicholas Vasallo

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Nicholas Vasallo
Born (1979-10-28) October 28, 1979 (age 34)
Occupations Composer

Nicholas Vasallo (born October 28, 1979) is an American experimental composer of Filipino and Taiwanese descent.[1] In 1997, Vasallo graduated from Monte Vista High School in Danville, California, where he began his musical career as an electric guitarist and vocalist in a hardcore band called Y.F.H. (which later became Antagony). He has been credited as being the father of a genre of extreme metal called deathcore.[2] Vasallo has since evolved from a rock musician into an award-winning composer and professor of music. He is best known for his compositions combining heavy metal sounds and aesthetics with avant garde classical composition. He has released three albums containing his compositions with different independent labels. His music is published by Santa Barbara Music Publishers and released by Innova Recordings.


He graduated from California State University, East Bay with a B.A. in Music. As a Chancellor's Fellow at University of California, Santa Cruz, Vasallo completed his M.A. in 2009 and subsequently went on to finish his D.M.A. in 2011 as a President's Fellow. His teachers included David Evan Jones, Paul Nauert, David Cope, Hi-Kyung Kim, Frank La Rocca, Jeffrey Miller, Rafael Hernandez, Ken Ueno, and Francois Rose.

He taught at California State University, East Bay,[3] Gavilan College, University of California, Santa Cruz, and Los Medanos College. He teaches at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.[4]


As a composer, Vasallo's work has encompassed a variety of genres and projects. Most notably with his extreme metal band Oblivion, deathgrind band Antagony,[5] film music career,[6] pop punk band Scolding Romeo and concert music works.[7] Polystylism or Eclecticism has been linked to his compositions[8] which range from electronic, orchestral, wind band, trombone ensemble, solo piano, choral, and instrumentations utilizing the overdriven sound of electric guitar.[9] His compositional approach involves mixing disparate elements from Extreme Metal to Taiko, Spectral Music, Algorithmic Music, and various 20th-century compositional techniques. Vasallo is a recipient of the 2010/2011 President's $21k Dissertation-Year Fellowship, the first Arts student to ever receive the honor.[10]

His music has been performed internationally by groups such as Contemporary Music Ensemble Korea,[11] Del Sol String Quartet, San Francisco Choral Artists, Atlanta Schola Cantorum,[12] and Watsonville Taiko.[13] Vasallo models his musical structures on extra-musical phenomenon, including pre-constructed narrative events either created on his own or appropriated. He describes musical ideas and instruments as "complex and surprising characters that exist in reality or imagination."[14] Vasallo's ongoing goal is to hybridize extreme metal with modern classical music.[15]

As a performer, Vasallo is active as an electric guitarist and extreme metal vocalist. He is currently the lead vocalist and songwriter for the extreme metal band Oblivion.[16]


  • 2012 Henryk Mikołaj Górecki International Composers Competition[17]
  • 2011 Indiana State University Contemporary Music Festival Music Now Composition Award[18]
  • 2011 Truman State University/MACRO Composition Award[19]
  • 2011 All the Cool Parts Idol Winner[20]
  • 2010/2011 President's Dissertation-Year Fellowship Winner[21]
  • 2009/2010 UCSC Music Department Discretionary Funds Award
  • 2009 San Francisco Choral Artists New Voices Award[22]
  • 2009 Porter College Graduate Arts Research Grant Award
  • 2008 David Cope Award for Compositional Excellence
  • 2008 Seattle Pianist Collective Award
  • 2008 UCSC Student Orchestral Competition Winner
  • 2008 60x60 Project (Pacific Rim mix) Official Selection[23]
  • 2007/2008/2009 UCSC Chancellors Doctoral Fellowship
  • 2007 CSUEB Student Choral Competition Winner[24]


Studio albums
Year Album details
2007 The Burning
  • Released: 2007
  • Label: Ars Nova Classics (ARSNOVA 0105)[25]
2011 let the machines do it for us
  • Released: 2011
  • Label: Kunaki(PX00ISYXUX)[26]
2012 Monuments Emerge
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: Innova Recordings(innova 821)[27]


  1. ^ "Filipino, Taiwanese" Hapa Voice: A Celebration of Multiracial Identity
  2. ^ No Clean Singing - ANTAGONY – Why you need to know this band…
  3. ^ CSU East Bay faculty page
  4. ^ Cal Poly Pomona faculty page
  5. ^ "Antagony (USA)" Metal Archives
  6. ^ Nick Vasallo Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ "Music alum, lecturer 'guest composer' at Feb. 24 Symphony concert" by Diane Daniels, Inside CSUEB News Blog
  8. ^ "Nick Vasallo: The Burning" by Steve Hicken Sequenza 21
  9. ^ "The Vertigo Series Part I (LIVE @ CSUEB)"
  10. ^ "Music student gets $21,000 fellowship" by Bonnie Horgos - Santa Cruz Sentinel (May 28, 2010)
  11. ^ "Biography: Contemporary Music Ensemble Korea" Pacific Rim Festival
  12. ^ "California composer Nick Vasallo will center the program." CLASSICAL: Atlanta Schola Cantorum, Piccolo Spoleto
  13. ^ "Nicholas Vasallo’s 'Antares Rising'" University of California, Santa Cruz News and Events
  14. ^ YouTube - REDSHIFT - When the War Began (2013). Composed by Nick Vasallo
  15. ^ - Black Swan Events (2010-2011) concerto for electric guitar and orchestra
  16. ^ Oblivion Info
  17. ^ "Results of the 1st H.M. Gorecki International Composers Competition - Cracow 2012" "H.M. Gorecki International Composers Competition
  18. ^ "45th Annual Contemporary Music Festival" Indiana State University 45th Annual Contemporary Music Festival
  19. ^ "2011 Composers Competition Results" Macro Music Composers Competition Winners
  20. ^ "2010 ACP Idol results"
  21. ^ "$21,000 President's Dissertation Year Fellowship" by Public Information Office, University of California, Santa Cruz News, June 28, 2010
  22. ^ "Past Winners" San Francisco Choral Artists New Voices Competition
  23. ^ "42) Evanescent Revolutions II Nick Vasallo" Vox Novus 60x60 Project
  24. ^ "CSUEB Choral Composition Competition Winner Nick Vasallo" by Buddy James, California State University, East Bay, Sounds of the Music Department
  25. ^ "Nick Vasallo: The Burning" Ars Nova Classics
  26. ^ "Nicholas Vasallo: let the machines do it for us" Kunaki
  27. ^ "Nick Vasallo: Monuments Emerge" Innova Recordings

External links[edit]