“…one of the most promising composers to come out of Portland State in years.”

– Willamette Week


My name is Jay Derderian and I’m a composer, guitarist, and Portland Oregon native. I’m a composer of (mostly) chamber music and I’m very interested in exploring musical narratives that attempt to undermine the relationship between form and content to allow them to intersect and inform each other. My string quartet, Celestial Vistas (2007-10, rev. 2014), is an intense deconstruction of the palindrome. My other string quartet, Outside the Eyes (2012-13), which was commissioned by Portland’s Third Angle Ensemble and semi-finalist for the American Prize, removes the score entirely to give the performers the freedom to choose which version of the piece they want to play, simultaneously. Recent projects include Frozen Smolder (2015) for amplified violin, viola, and narrator with text by Portland author and poet Sandra Stone for the Third Angle ensemble, I want to unfold (2016), an electro-acoustic sax quartet commissioned and premiered by the Mana Quartet at the Festival of New American Music in Sacramento, and In The Tides I Break (2017) commissioned by Portland Piano International for their Rising Stars program. I graduated from Portland State University in 2011 with both my B.M. and M.M. in Music Composition where I studied with Bonnie Miksch and Bryan Johanson.

My music has been performed across the United States and I’ve received commissions and performances from some of the leading new music performers and ensembles including the Third Angle Ensemble, fEARnoMUSIC, The Portland Cello ProjectThe Mana Quartet, Portland Piano International, the Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, violinist Stella Peach, and the RE:Percussion Duo. I’ve also had my music performed by violist Andrew Stiefel, pianist Hayk Arsenyan, Cascadia Composers, the FPC Chamber Choir, and my music has been featured on the Vox Novus Composer’s Voice Series, the Portland International Piano FestivalMarch Music Moderne, and College Music Society concerts.

I’ve also recently published reviews in I Care If You Listen and Oregon Arts Watch; two online-only publications devoted to art and music.

Have questions? Want to connect or commission a new piece? Send me a message over at my contact page or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!

Non first-person bio.

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(photo by Tri’ah Derderian)