2022 Chamber Competition Winner
"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 the 2021 Hermitage Prize from the Aspen Music Festival and School, 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, and his orchestral works have been performed by orchestras across the United States and Europe. His music appears on recordings by the Grossman Ensemble (Fountain of Time, 2020), Fuego Quartet (Migration, 2019), Lotus (Rogue Lotus, 2018), and American Wild Ensemble (Music in the American Wild, 2018).
Mettens is currently a teaching fellow in the Humanities Division at the University of Chicago, where he finished a PhD in 2021, studying with Anthony Cheung, Sam Pluta, and Augusta Read Thomas. He earned his master's 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. "