The Chicago Tribune has praised the music of David “Clay” Mettens (b.1990) as “a thing of remarkable beauty,” displaying a “sensitive ear for instrumental color.” His recent work seeks to distill the strange and sublime from the familiar. He reflects upon the experience of wonder in music that ranges from rich and sonorous to bright and crystalline, seeking expressive immediacy in lucid forms and dramatic shapes.
His work has been recognized with a 2016 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, the 2015 SCI/ASCAP graduate student commission, and a commission from the American Opera Initiative, premiered in December 2015 by the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. His orchestra piece “Sleeping I am carried…” was selected for the Underwood New Music Readings with the American Composers Orchestra and the 2015 [‘tactus] Young Composers Forum with the Brussels Philharmonic. Subsequently, the Brussels Philharmonic, led by Stéphane Denève, performed the piece in December 2016. In August 2017, as part of the Grafenegg Festival’s Ink Still Wet workshop, he conducted the premiere of his piece Burn Bright with the Austrian Tonkünstler Orchestra under the supervision of conductor-composer mentor Brad Lubman.
Additionally, his works have been performed by Tony Arnold and the soundSCAPE Festival Sinfonietta in Maccagno, Italy, on the Contempo Series at the University of Chicago, by Ensemble Dal Niente, the Civitas Ensemble, and the [Switch~ Ensemble] at the Queens New Music Festival. Saxophonists Chien-Kwan Lin, Timothy McAllister, and Otis Murphy performed his trio Everything that rises at the American Saxophone Academy Faculty Recital in July 2016.
He is currently a student in the PhD composition program at the University of Chicago, studying with Anthony Cheung, Sam Pluta, and Augusta Read Thomas. He earned his masters degree at the Eastman School of Music and completed undergraduate studies at the University of South Carolina.