Composer David Smooke (b. 1969) currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland, where he teaches music theory, rock music history, and composition, and is the Chair of the Music Theory Department at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. The Washington Post claims that "Smooke has some of the most uninhibited brain cells around" and describes his music as "superb [...] a kaleidoscopic sonic universe where anything could happen [...] one of those rare pieces you fall in love with from the get-go." The Baltimore Sun adds that his music is “a highly creative, absorbing experience.” His honors include those from the Maryland State Arts Council, BMI (William Schuman Prize for Most Outstanding Score, BMI Student Composer Awards), the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Ragdale Foundation, the National Association of Composers USA, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and SCI/ASCAP (Regional Winner). He has composed commissions for groups and individuals including the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), CUBE, Rhymes With Opera, Great Noise Ensemble, Pictures on Silence, pianist Amy Briggs, bassoonist Michael Parker-Harley (of Alarm Will Sound), bassist Jeffrey Weisner (of the National Symphony Orchestra), toy pianist Phyllis Chen (of ICE), and cellist/singer Victoria Bass, and has worked with such ensembles and performers as the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Pacifica String Quartet, eighth blackbird, the California E.A.R Unit, Verge Ensemble, Dark in the Song, the University of Chicago Contemporary Chamber Players (now called Contempo), Dal Niente, Syzygy (the Rice University faculty new music ensemble), the University of Iowa Center for New Music, conductor Cliff Colnot, and cellist/singer Jody Redhage. His music has been featured on festivals including those hosted by Queens College (Aaron Copland School of Music), Rice University, Northwestern University, Bowling Green State University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Louisiana State University, the University of Iowa, S.U.N.Y. Buffalo, Bowdoin College, Bard Collage, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and East Carolina University.
Previously he was on the faculties of Ohio University, the Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University, the Merit School of Music, the University of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, the Birch Creek Music Performance Center, and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony Workshops.
David performs improvisations and original works on various instruments including toy piano, supported by Schoenhut toy pianos. He has created free improvisations on toy piano alongside such luminaries as Michael Formanek, Susan Alcorn, Tim Feeney, Courtney Orlando, Erik Spangler, John Dierker, Dave Ballou, Bonnie Lander, Adam Hopkins, and Dana Jessen. He has performed as part of pieces by interdisciplinary artist Mayumi Ishino at venues in NewYork City, Philadlphia and Virginia, and is currently building solo improvisations utilizing electronic processing of toy piano, microtonally-tuned autoharp and other instruments. In 2010, David founded League of the Unsound Sound (LotUS), an ensemble that he co-curates with Ken Ueno that is devoted to rethinking the theatrical element of experimental music, both written and improvised. In May 2010, David also launched a weekly column with NewMusicBox, the online magazine of the American Music Center.
He received an M.M. degree from the Peabody Conservatory, a B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where he received the Century Fellowship, the highest fellowship offered by the Humanities Division. His composition teachers have included Shulamit Ran, David Rakowski, John Eaton, Robert Hall Lewis, Ronald Caltabiano and Richard Wernick.