Mark Engebretson

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Mark Engebretson, DM, Northwestern University (born 1964, California) is a saxophonist and composer. He has written music for orchestra, wind ensemble, chorus and chamber formations. His music often combines computer music and live performance.


Mark Engebretson (b. 1964) is Professor of Composition and Electronic Music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is the recipient of a North Carolina Artist Fellowship in Composition (for the Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Orchestra), a Fulbright Fellowship for studies in France, and has received major commissions from Harvard University’s Fromm Music Foundation (Acrylic Waves), the University of Wisconsin-Madison (They Said: sinister resonance), the Thomas S. Kenan Center for the Arts (Deliriade) and the Barlow Foundation.

Current compositional projects include a new work commissioned by the Greensboro Symphony for the 60th birthday celebration of renowned violinist and conductor Dmitry Sitkovetsky. Performers who have championed his music include the Oasis, Vienna and Red Clay Saxophone Quartets, Due East, saxophonists Susan Fancher, James Romain, Steve Stusek, Jonathan Helton and Paul Bro, violinists Dmitry Sitkovetsky and Marjorie Bagley, trombonist Mark Hetzler and flutist Tadeu Coelho. Other significant performances have been given by the Orquestra Sinfônica da Universidade da São Paulo, the Cleveland Winds, the Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra and the Greensboro Opera. Engebretson is the founder and director of the UNCG New Music Festival (2003–present), and has had performances of his works at SEAMUS, ICMC, Wien Modern, Third Practice, Festival of New American Music, ISCM, BGSU Festival of New Music and Art, Carnegie Hall, Sala São Paulo, Argentina, Albania, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, China, across America and throughout Europe. Over twenty of his compositions are recorded on the Albany, Innova, Lotus, Parma/Navona and Mark labels.

Mark Engebretson taught composition at the University of Florida, music theory at SUNY Fredonia and 20th-century music history at the Eastman School of Music. He studied at the University of Minnesota (graduating summa cum laude), the Conservatoire de Bordeaux and Northwestern University, where he received the Doctor of Music degree. At Northwestern he studied composition with M. William Karlins, Pauline Oliveros, Marta Ptaszynska, Michael Pisaro, Stephen Syverud and Jay Alan Yim and saxophone with Frederick Hemke. His teachers in France were Michel Fuste-Lambezat and Jean-Marie Londeix.


As a composer his influences include György Ligeti, Paul Lanski, Steve Reich, and Iannis Xenakis. Eric Stokes introduced him to experimental music and found sound (i.e. found object art using sounds as its material).[1] Engebretson has received commissions from Harvard University’s Fromm Music Foundation (2007) and the Thomas S. Kenan Center for the Arts (2008). His compositions have been performed at Indiana State University New Music Festival (Terre Haute, Indiana) and International Society for Contemporary Music Festivals (Tirana, Albania and Baku, Azerbaijan) as well as contemporary music festivals such as Wien Modern (Vienna), Gaida Festival (Vilnius, Lithuania), Ny Musikk (Bergen, Norway) and the Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival. The world premiere of SaxMax was given at the 14th World Saxophone Congress in Ljubljana, Slovenia by James Romain.[2]

Melody, timbre, virtuosity, clear and balanced formal structure, the integration of new media, multiple levels of associations, and a desire for fresh, engaging expression all drive his creative work. In this case, the concept of melody can be interpreted quite broadly: a melody could be a singing, arcing line, a single tone with constant microtonal or timbre changes, a jumping, jagged, asymmetrical riff, or a lick played on a snare drum. A fascination with both performance and compositional virtuosity joins melody to form the basis of his ongoing interest in writing works that push my boundaries as a composer and that engage superstar performers in technical and musical challenges. Engebretson's view is that such works teach us something about music, endless possibilities, and ourselves.


  • 1. Moore, Tom (3 October 2008). "Tom Moore Interviews Mark Engebretson". Opera Today website. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  • 2. Romain, James. Henri Selmer Paris website. Conn-Selmer, Inc.. Retrieved 11 February 2010.

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