Gary Chamness is a researcher at the Baylor College of Medicine and the president of the Foundation for Modern Music. Chamness met Robert Avalon in San Antonio in the 1980s. Chamness transcribed many of Avalon's original hand manuscripts. In an interview that took place in December 2013, Dr. Chamness describes meeting Avalon for the first time, their work together over the years, and Avalon's lasting legacy at the Foundation of Music. The complete interview is available at the Woodson Research Center. Here is a brief excerpt about their close collaboration.
Gary Chamness: I first met Robert in San Antonio and I couldn't assign a date to it. One never knows the dates that are going to be important when they happen, or often doesn't anyway. It would've been probably the late eighties while he was still in San Antonio. I was attending a meeting of a group of professionals, some of whom apparently knew Robert and his music and had gotten him to perform at one of these meetings, which I thought was interesting. I was sort of fascinated by this composer guy, and got to know him at that time.
Throughout his career, Robert Avalon gave interviews about his music and the creative process. The Woodson Research Center houses recordings of these interviews including the one published here in its entirety from WRR 101.1 FM Program Guide, which was published a month before the composer's untimely death in 2004.
Other interviews can be accessed from the collection through the Woodson Research Center. In 2002, Robert Avalon travelled to England with a group of musicians to perform a concert at the famed Wigmore Hall. Prior to the concert, Avalon was featured on the the BBC's program In Tune, which was broadcast before his Febrary 1 concert. Avalon along with violinist Brian Lewis perform the Violin Sonata (1st (partial) and 3rd movts.).
Art Gottshalk is the professor of music composition at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. He was one of the founding members of the Foundation of Music, which eventually was taken over by Robert Avalon in the late 1990s. In this brief excerpt, Dr. Gottschalk shares his impressions of Avalon as a composer. The complete interview can be requested at the Woodson Research Center.
Art Gottschalk: I think that's the major thing that Robert AValon was able to accomplish. He brought his music and the music of other contemporary composers both local and contemporary, recent and international to a constituency that otherwise was not being addressed. In many places including Houston, contemporary music is often confined to the academy. As an outsider, he didn't have that available to him necessarily. I mean he could have rented academic space, but he certainly didn't have access to the academic audience and frankly, I've always been a little leery of the academic audience anyway. I don't like putting on concerts for the same people over and over and over. So with Robert, it was a different crowd. It was more of an arts crowd, people that were interested in new things and trends in all aspects of art, including music, and these people came from all walks of life. Many of them were Robert Avalon supporters and that's how they, they really came because they knew and they admired Robert, but they came to these concerts and experienced the music of other composers as well.