27-year-old Andrew “AJ” Harbison is a singer/songwriter and composer living with his lovely wife in Costa Mesa, California. He was homeschooled throughout his elementary and secondary education, and graduated from high school in the summer of 2001 at the age of 15. In May 2007 he graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Fullerton, with a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition. His teachers have included James Ramos and Robert Watson (piano) and Leonard Rhodes, Pamela Madsen and Ken Walicki (composition).
He began playing the piano at the age of eight and composing at ten. In Colorado, where he lived for eight years, he received three first-prizes and one honorable mention in his division in the Pikes Peak Young Composers Competition, as well as numerous piano honors. When his family moved to California in April 2000, he began to take an interest in popular music. He taught himself to play the guitar, and has played both guitar and keyboard in various local southern California bands. His piano studies continued, and he received various awards including prizes at the Inland Empire Piano Festival, a bronze medal at the Southern California Junior Bach Festival Complete Works Audition, being named a Merit Award Winner at the University of Redlands Community School of Music and the Arts, and winning first place (in an ensemble with a vocal student and a flute student) in the Vocal Ensemble–Competitive division of the Music Teachers Association of California VOCE Recital Competition. He was awarded a full two-year scholarship to study music at California State University, Fullerton, and was named to the Dean’s List each semester during his undergraduate degree work. In May 2005 he was selected for the Men’s Chorus Award for his musical excellence and leadership in that ensemble under the direction of Robert Istad. He was also one of the first three recipients of the Alan A. Mannason Scholarship in Composition at the University. The faculty of the Music Department chose him to be the student speaker representing the Department at the University’s College of the Arts Commencement ceremony in May 2007.
AJ has composed in various styles and genres, including art and concert music, popular songs and theatrical music for LifeHouse Theater’s (Redlands, CA) original production of Pollyanna. In December 2005 he released a solo EP, entitled Following A Star, which he recorded on his iBook G4 laptop computer and which contains seven of his original pop songs for acoustic guitar and voice. At California State University, Fullerton, he performed as both a pianist and a singer in various student and university recitals, including the University Singers choir under the direction of John Alexander (Spring 2006) and Robert Istad (Fall 2006 to Spring 2007). While studying composition at the University, he completed works for solo piano, men’s chorus, string quartet, mixed ensemble and large ensemble. His senior composition recital, produced in April 2007, included five of his compositions and utilized more than 30 performers. Following his graduation, AJ and three of his college friends (including his future wife) traveled the United States for four months by car in Fall 2007. In addition to writing music and working a day job, AJ is the author of The Listening Blog (http://www.thelisteningblog.com), a weblog containing reviews, analysis and observations on the music he listens to and the Southern Californian sound-world he experiences. He recently became a published composer when Kallisti Music Press in Philadelphia published his art song New Hope; they intend to publish several more of his works in the near future. He plans to begin attending graduate school for composition in the fall of 2013, after working in the “real world” and continuing to write and perform.