Chuck Holdeman has written songs, works for band, orchestra, chamber music, and film and educational music. His one-act opera “Agostino and the Puccini Clarinet,” with libretto by Vincent Marinelli, was premiered in 2007 at the Music School of Delaware, and produced again in 2008. In 2006 his “Concerto tre d’uno” was commissioned and premiered by the Philadelphia Classical Symphony. The soloist and dedicatee was Richard Woodhams, principal oboist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, who performed the work again in 2011 for the International Double Reed Society in Tempe, Arizona.
2009 saw the premieres of both “At the Bend,” eight songs based on poems by W. S. Merwin, who was in attendance, as well as “Quintetto” for bassoon and string quartet which received its first two performances in Birmingham , UK and Bordeaux, France, featuring Paris opera bassoonist Ludovic Tissus. Tissus also was featured in the American premiere in New York in 2014 of “Trois Hommages: Ravel, Pärt, Bach,” which was presented in a new septet version including piano and string quintet.
Holdeman is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied bassoon with Sol Schoenbach and counterpoint with Matthew Colucci, later studying bassoon in France with Maurice Allard. He is principal bassoonist for the Bach Festival of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and performs with the Philadelphia’s new music group Relâche. He was a member of the Buffet Trio for 20 years, and for 28 years was a member of the Delaware Symphony, including 24 years as principal.
For Relâche he has composed two scores for silent films, for Maya Deren’s “At Land” and for Max Linder’s “Max fait de la photo.” Chuck also composed two trios for members of Relâche, “Neighborhood Music” and “Mural Music.” Both of these community projects were based in South Philadelphia, the first for two after school programs with dancer Jenna Frome, United Communities Southeast Philadelphia, and American Composers Forum, Philadelphia Chapter. The second, in the fall of 2014, was a collaboration with ACF and Mural Arts Philadelphia, based on refugee residents re-settled from Burma and Nepal.
In 1999 Chuck Holdeman was named Composer of the Year by the Pennsylvania and Delaware State Music Teachers Associations, which commissioned “Crossover Soundings,” for piano 4-hands, and in 2000 he was the first recipient of the Delaware Division of the Arts Master Artist Fellowship. In 2003 Holdeman received the Beekhuis Award for outstanding service and performance in the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. The DSO commissioned and performed the orchestral version of “Crossover Soundings” as well as “The Curse” for narrator and orchestra. For 15 seasons Chuck initiated and facilitated the DSO’s high school composition project, and was commissioned again by the DSO on the occasion of his retirement from the orchestra to compose “Petit Concert” for wind octet.
Chuck has produced two CDs, one featuring “Buffet Music,” commissioned by Hampden-Sydney College for the Buffet Trio, and the other an all original solo album, partially recorded in the Cistern, an empty two-million-gallon water storage tank in Port Townsend, Washington. The Cistern’s 20 to 40 second reverberation time enables the bassoon to play chords among other magical effects. “Sonate en Trio” is included in the Meyer Media recording by Mélomanie Florescence. “Lyric Seasons” was released in 2012 on CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon.
Working with librettist Bill Bly, Chuck completed his second opera, Young Meister Bach, a one-act based on mishaps in the early career of J. S. Bach. It premiered March 1 and 2, and May 3 and 10, 2014 in Bethlehem and Philadelphia, commissioned and produced by the Bach Festival of Bethlehem. Chuck has recently completed two suites for solo piano, also somewhat inspired by Bach and the baroque dances of Bach’s solo instrumental suites, as well as a wind quintet, and two sets of variations, the first on Stravinsky’s little known bassoon duo Lied Ohne Name, and the second a bassoon quartet, variations on Berlioz’ Chant de Brander. And he continues work on an 8-part piece for baritone voice, oboe, viola, and piano, based on the poetry of Jeffrey Harrison.