Underwood, James, American composer; b. Richmond, Calif., March 4,1951. He played the trumpet as a youth, then studied composition with Robert Basart at Calif. State Univ. in Hayward (1969-75; M.A., 1975) and with Frederick Fox at Ind. Univ. (1978-82; D.A., 1982). His music is prudently modernistic, with atonal and polytonal divagations from modal harmonic structures within a general Baroque framework; there is an element of neo- Handelian humor in some of his compositions.
ORCH Variations on B-A-C-H (Hayward, Calif., June 8, 1973); The Orchestral Noises of October Nights (1980-81; Bloomington, Ind., March 31, 1982); Joyyoku (1984; Indianapolis, Sept. 24, 1985); Sonorous Regionsfor Chamber Orch. (1986); Bachanliafor a Lot of Cellos (1986; perf. by 40 cellos, Bloomington, Ind., Feb. 3, 1987); Glider (Bloomington, Ind., April 24,1990); Kyrie (1991); Grendel (Bloomington, Ind., Oct. 25, 1992); Grendel’s Mother (Bloomington, Ind., Oct. 24, 1993); Back Home? Again?? (1995). CHAMBER : Lamentfor Clarinet (1970); Textures Ifor 5 Instruments (1971), IIfor Flute (1979), and IIIfor 2 Cellos (1972); Loomingsfor Double String Quartet and Bass (1979); 4 Jurassic Scenesfor Trombone, Bass Trombone, and 3 Percussionists (1980); Nightworkfor 8 Instruments (1981); Brave New Zoosfor String Quartet (1982); Reactionsfor Piccolo (1982); Green County Purplefor Bassoon (1983); Cadenzasfor Alto Trombone, String Quartet, Piano, and Percussion (1983); Delugefor Brass Quintet (1983); 3 Phantasmsfor Violin and Piano (1987); Intro and Weird Boogaloofor 4 Horns (1994). VOCAL : The Roadfor Chorus and Orch. (Richmond, Calif., lune 11,1969); Requiemfor Man’s Voice and Orch. (1970); Dynamismsfor Soprano and Orch. (Hayward, Calif., May 2,1975); Arms and the Boyfor Soprano, Narrator, Flute, Bass Clarinet, Trumpet, 2 Violins, Viola, Piano, and 5 Percussionists (1979); To Erosfor Soprano, Violin, Viola, Piano, and Percussion (1980); After Dinner with Al Caponefor Soprano and Trumpet (1981); Remembrancefor Soprano and 6 Instruments (1982); Duke et Decorum estfor Soprano and Chamber Orch. (1987; Bloomington, Ind., Dec. 1, 1988); Friendsfor Soprano and 5 Instruments (1991).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire