Dr. Anthony Kelley leaves an unforgettable impression on those he befriends; his opinions and ideas full of vibrancy and depth, always sparking a new curiosity in oneself. I had the esteemed pleasure of being taught by Dr. Kelley for all of my freshman year in Music Theory and came away with so much more than composing basics and theoretical understandings. I learned a handful of lifetime lessons from a passionate composer, teacher, and musician.
Dr. Kelley received his B.A. and A.M. in music composition at Duke University in 1991 and his Ph. D. at UC Berkeley in 2001. During his career at Duke, Dr. Kelley received the Mary Duke Biddle Scholarship for Musical Composition and the Henry Schuman Prize for Musical Composition. After graduating from Duke, Kelley became the Composer-in-Residence with the Richmond Symphony for three years under the Meet-the-Composer grant. He later joined the Duke music faculty in 2000 and continues to teach music theory, music appreciation and composition. Kelley is also a performer and co-director of the BLAK Ensemble (a modern improvisational blues group) and continues composing, residing part-time on Duke’s East campus.
In 1998, the American Composers Orchestra premiered Dr. Kelley’s “The Breaks” and in 1999, during his residency with the Richmond Symphony, his piano concerto “Africamerica” premiered with soloist Donal Fox. The Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta, North Carolina, Oakland East Bay, Marin (CA) and San Antonio symphony orchestras have all performed Kelley’s compositions. By 2008, Kelley was awarded for his works in the Full Frame and 28th Black Maria film festivals and the Aaron Copland Foundation Recording Project.
His compositions include: “Grist for the Mill” from The Alfalfa Club; soundtrack to both Conjuring Burden (2006) and The Doll (2007); music to Duke’s “Spring Awakening” stage production (2008); “Contra-Funkti, 1-6.” Check out this article “There’s No Time Like The Present: Young Composers on Composing Today and What It’ll Be Like Next Century” from the perspective of three young composers (Dr. Kelley included) and Kelley’s oral presentation on classical and jazz traditions.