David R. Holsinger was born on December 26, 1945, in Hardin, Missouri. He was educated at Central Methodist College, Fayette, Missouri, Central Missouri State University, Warrensburg, and the University of Kansas, Lawrence. His primary composition study has been with Donald Bohlen at Central Missouri State and Charles Hoag at the University of Kansas. In 1999, following 15 years of service as music minister, worship leader, and composer in residence to Shady Grove Church in Grand Prairie, Texas, he joined the School of Music faculty at Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee, as Conductor of the Lee University Wind Ensemble. Holsinger’s duties include teaching advanced instrumental conducting and composition.
Over the past several years, Holsinger has been named a National Patron of Delta Omicron Music Fraternity, awarded the Distinguished Music Alumni Award from Central Missouri State University, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia’s Orpheus Award, as well as, honorary memberships in Kappa Kappa Psi National Band Fraternity and the Women’s National Band Directors Association. In April 2003, Holsinger was presented the Distinguished Alumni Award from Central Methodist College, and the following month, at Graduation Ceremonies, Dr. Paul Conn, President of Lee University presented the composer with the university’s prestigious “Excellence in Scholarship” faculty award for his continued achievement in musical composition.
In the Spring of 2009, Holsinger guest conducted the District V Honor Band in Georgia.
In the Spring of 2010, Holsinger guest conducted the West Virginia All-State Band in which he has composed a piece for titled "Coal Mountain Portrait.". This is the second time Holsinger has guest conducted the West Virginia All-State Band, the first in the Spring of 2007.
Over the past ten years, Holsinger served as Visiting Composer in Residence at eleven American colleges or universities, and held the Acuff Chair of Excellence in the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tennessee. In 1999, the Christian Instrumental Directors Association awarded Holsinger its “Director of the Year” citation. The composer was also honored with biographical inclusion in “The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music”, Vol. I and III, and in Norman Smith’s “Program Notes for Band”.
Compositions by Holsinger receiving outstanding reviews include The Easter Symphony, a three movement, 55 minute chorale symphony based on the Passion of Christ, and the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Command Band commission, To Tame the Perilous Skies. High marks by reviewers have also been given to the memorial work, Consider the Uncommon Man; Praises, a six-movement ballet suite; Scrappy Bumptoe’s Picture Cards and Ragtag Diary, composed for the Kansas Brass Quintet; Sinfonia Voci for band and choir; and The Song of Moses, a four movement band/choral work premiered by the United States Air Force Band and Singing Sergeants and selected for broadcast nationally on a National Public Radio Special Project on Vocal Music in August, 1997.
Other much played works in Holsinger’s catalogue include The War Trilogy: 1971, a special edition of the Kent State contest winner; Abram’s Pursuit; a rollicking overture based on a story from the Book of Genesis; and Adagio, which was composed in the memory of a departed friend.
Much of Holsinger’s music is characterized by unrelenting tempos, ebullient rhythms, fluctuating accents, poly-lineal textures, vigorous asymmetrical melodies, and high emotional impact. Many of Holsinger's pieces are characterized by a lively and kinetic mood. He frequently makes use of shifts in time signature, with the overall effect of rhythmic richness. In his composition In The Spring, at the Time when Kings Go Off to War, he even uses additive meter, or irregular subdivisions of beats with his already unusual time signatures.
His works include:
ABRAM'S PURSUIT, a rollicking overture based on a story of Abram from the Book of Genesis
AT THE STRONGHOLDS OF EN GEDI
A CHILDHOOD HYMN, which is based on the hymnsong "Jesus Loves Me"
ADAGIO, composed in memory of a departed friend, an intensely emotional synthesis of both joy and pain.
AMERICAN FACES, a triumphant overture celebrating the diversity of America.
BALLET EXALTARE, A Grade 5 piece written in a somewhat more classical style for Holsinger.
BALLET SACRA, a 15-minute work that includes a short choir part in the middle section.
BATTLE MUSIC (2001), a work inspired by Revelations 12:7; “And there was war in Heaven...”
Clust Fluster Bluster March
Coal Mountain Portrait, his latest piece that was commissioned by the WV Bandmasters Association for the 2010 WV All-State Band which he conducted and it debuted on March 6, 2010.
CONSIDER THE UNCOMMON MAN, a memorial work
DIVERTIMENTED DANCES, composed for the 2006 Massachusetts All-State Festival which he also conducted. It is a series of seven dances.
The Easter Symphony, a three movement, 55 minute chorale symphony based on the Passion of Christ
Elegy on an American Folktune: Remembering Erin Suzanne Hutchison
Every Morning New
Fantasy on a Gaelic Hymnsong
Fort Canterbury March
GEARS PULLEYS CHAINS (2005), a playful tribute to the mechanical history of Shelby, Ohio
Havendance (1985) overture for concert band, written for Holsinger's daughter, Haven. This piece is arguably the most musically eclectic of the "Holsinger children" pieces.
Nilesdance (1987), written for Holsinger's son, Niles, characterized by a certain, short repeating phrase.
Graysondance (1995), written for Holsinger's son, Grayson. This most recent of the "Holsinger children" pieces is characterized by a jazzy mood, featuring walking bass lines and other such elements.
Gmyway's Revenge! (1994) This piece is a three-movement work for symphonic band. It was written for the tenth anniversary of the Greater Milwaukee Youth Wind Ensemble, reflected in the name of the piece. The first movement of the piece is entitled "Alla Brashly Bravura: 'Enter the Hero, Sir Gmyway of Vordak,'" characterized by its rather whimsical nature. The second movement, "Intermezzo? Thoughtso!: 'The Beguiling Countess Adnil,'" is a considerable shift in character, beginning with a lonesome flute solo and slowly augmenting to include the rest of the band. The third, and perhaps most infamous (among band students, horn players, esp.), movement is entitled "Presto Zoomissimo-issimo-issimo!:'In Pursuit of Rattazinski, der Villain!'" It is perpetually kinetic, often characterized by a syncopated 5/4 rhythm. The names of these movements have significance in the context of the premiere of the piece. "Vordak" is a rearrangement of "Dvorak," the surname of the conductor of this piece's premiere. "Adnil" is simply Dvorak's wife's first name (Linda) spelled backward. Finally, "Rattazinski" refers to a rival conductor. Gmyway's Revenge is considered a staple of the concert band literature.
HERO MUSIC (2005), commissioned to celebrate the life of a well loved Tennessee band director
IN THE SPRING, AT THE TIME WHEN KINGS GO OFF TO WAR
LITURGICAL DANCES is subtitled Benedecamus Socii Domine which translates "Let us (all), as companions, Praise the Lord!"
THE MAELSTROM, Commissioned for the L'Anse Creuse High School Wind Symphony in Harrison Township, Michigan.
ON AN AMERICAN SPIRITUAL is based upon the African hymnsong "Were you there?"
ON ANCIENT HYMNS AND FESTAL DANCES
"ON A HYMSONG OF LOWELL MASON" is based on Lowell Mason's 1832 work Olivet (My Faith Looks Up To Thee).
ON A HYMNSONG OF PHILIP BLISS (1989) is Holsinger's translated the American hymn “It is Well with my Soul”. It is his largest selling work and has been used in several televised memorial performances in recent years, including commemorative services for the Challenger astronauts, Ronald Reagan, and the fallen heroes of the American armed forces. This piece was written to honor Rev. Steve Edel, the retiring principal of Shady Grove Christian Academy, and was presented to him as a gift by the academy's concert band.
ON THE GRAND PRAIRIE TEXAS
Partita Allegro, for woodwind chir
Peasant Dance Village
PRELUDE AND RONDO
Prairie Dances It contains many alternating time signatures.
To Tame the Perilous Skies was commissioned by the 564th Tactical Air Command Band, United States Air Force, located in Virginia, and received its premiere performance in the fall of 1990. Although it leaves the storyline completely to the listener's imagination, "Perilous Skies" was conceived as a programmatic work literally depicting two opposing forces colliding in battle. The elongated canonic introduction presents a six-pitch intervallic display that is used throughout the composition, both as an intact melodic statement and a fragmented germative device, to depict every extra-musical element from serenity to air war to triumphal deliverance. Little did Holsinger realize the prophetic nature of the work, when at the time of its premiere the United Nations forces were assembling in the Persian Gulf; it was only a few months later that the world watched as modern technological air power "tamed the perilous skies" over Iraq and Kuwait. Then, in retrospect, this work is dedicated not only to the exceptional men and women of the Tactical Air Command, but to the spirit of the modern military aviator, taming the perilous skies that all men might live free of tyranny and oppression.
THE SYMPHONIC WIND MUSIC OF DAVID R. HOLSINGER, (Mark Recording Studios, Clarence, New York) feature major professional and university performing organizations in both live and studio sessions with the composer. Volumes 1 through 10 are available, and further volumes are planned. The first two discs were released in 1995.
Havendance was recorded in 1987 on "Yale University Concert Band in Japan, Denon 32CG-1877 (Yale Concert Band, dir. Thomas Duffy)
Holsinger was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for lifetime achievement in composition by Gustavus Adolphus College, and presented the Gustavus Fine Arts Medallion, the division’s highest award.
In April 2003, Holsinger was presented the Distinguished Alumni Award from Central Methodist University (formerly Central Methodist College)
In May 2003, Lee University presented Holsinger with the university’s "Excellence in Scholarship" faculty award
In November 2004, Holsinger was named the "2004 Honorary Alumnus of the Year" by the Alumni Association of Lee University.
Holsinger's works have been very popular in the world of drum and bugle corps since the 1987 Cavaliers first put "Liturgical Dances" on the field. Other works performed include "To Tame the Perilous Skies" (1992 Cadets, 2nd place), "In the Spring, When Kings go off to War" and "On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss" (Both 1993 Cadets, 1st place), "Symphonia Ressurecttus" (2002 Spirit and 2003 Magic of Orlando), "Abram's Pursuit" (2003 Magic of Orlando), as well as "Battle Music" (2007 Bluecoats), and many other works performed by junior and senior corps frequently since 1987.
In 1993 Holsinger—himself a former marching band director—spent time with the Cadets to help them understand the music they were portraying.
Model trains are one of Holsinger's major obsessions.
David R. Holsinger conducted the 1999 Kentucky All-State Symphonic Band. Some of his works that were played and recorded included: To Tame The Perilous Skies, Consider the Uncommon Man, and On An American Spiritual.