Davis Brooks comes from a diverse musical background as soloist, pedagogue, orchestral musician, studio musician, concertmaster on Broadway, conductor, and chamber musician. His teaching experience has included faculty appointments at Baylor University, Wayne State University, the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, and Bucknell University. He is Professor of Violin Emeritus at Butler University in Indianapolis, and the 2015-2016 University of Alabama School of Music Endowed Chair in Music Composition.

In addition to his present position as Acting Concertmaster of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Dr. Brooks was a member of the Mostly Mozart Orchestra at Lincoln Center for ten years, and for nineteen years, the New York Chamber Symphony, which produced over 20 critically acclaimed recordings during his tenure with them. Dr. Brooks has been concertmaster of the Chamber Orchestra of New England, the Harrisburg Symphony, and the Waco Symphony. He performs frequently with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and is active in the many recording studios in the Indianapolis area. In November 2016, his latest recording of new music, solo music written for him by ten Alabama composers, will be released. Dr. Brooks has previously released two solo cds, one of music for violin and electronic media entitled
Violin and Electronics, and one of music by composer C.P. First. Both are available on iTunes. Other recordings include Reflection on a Hymn of Thanksgiving by Frank Felice, With Every Leaf a Miracle by Mark Schultz, and Manunya by Frank Glover.

At Yale University, where he received a master's degree in violin performance, Dr. Brooks studied with Broadus Erle and Syoko Aki. His doctorate, also in violin performance, is from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Other important teachers with whom he has worked include Joyce Robbins, George Neikrug, Russell Hatz, and Raymond Page; he has studied chamber music with Julius Levine, Josef Gingold, Aldo Parisot, and members of the Tokyo, Alard and Guarneri Quartets.

Chamber music is his first love. He has been a member of the Indianapolis Chamber Players, the Commonwealth and Landolfi Quartets, as well as the Meridian and Essex Piano Trios. In addition, Dr. Brooks' special interests include both the performance of music by contemporary composers and performance on original instruments, particularly the music of the Baroque period. He is a founding member of both the Chicago 21
st- Century Music Ensemble and the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra. Recording for the progressive rock band The Psychedelic Ensemble has been a most pleasurable diversion, as has performing with the Indianapolis band Progressive Lenses.



Review: Davis Brooks, 'Violin and Electronics' 
Strad magazine April 2011
Davis Brooks is a violin Professor at Butler University in Indianapolis and associate concertmaster of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, and in the booklet notes to this CD he lists orchestral playing, chamber music, new music, studio sessions and period performances as just some of his activities. So it should come as no surprise that a CD of nothing but music for solo violin and electronics forms part of his eclectic career.
The music presented is a mixed bag, but enjoyable nonetheless, and Brooks is a committed and persuasive advocate for the works throughout, adapting his impressive playing to the composers’ diverse demands. The opener, James Mobberley’s In bocca al lupo (1990) showcases the violinist’s bravura playing in a solo part full of insistent tremelos set against a backdrop of electronically manipulated violin sounds. C. P. First’s Epiphany (1994) and James Aikman’s Fantasy (1991) inhabit darker sound worlds, and Brooks ranges from full throated, resonant playing on the G string to keening phrases in the uppermost register, often with a menacing electronic backdrop. His control of vibrato and tidy phrasing are a pleasure to listen to. He brings a singing tone to some of the angst-ridden phrases of Frank Felice’s Brace Yourself Like a Man (2001), and adopts a poignant flautando sound for the work’s closing bars. Hugh Levick’s Nosotros (2004) is more of a dance track, with Brooks delivering a stuttering atonal melody against a backing of sampled didgeridoos and Latin percussion – not the greatest vehicle for his skills. Sound is not flattering to the soloist – some of his more assertive gestures fall a bit flat.
David Kettle

Review: Davis Brooks, 'Violin and Electronics' 
NUVO 1/19/11
by Scott Shoger

I wasn't sure what to expect from Violin and Electronics, a seven-piece collection of new American music recorded by Butler University professor of violin Davis Brooks. But I was pleased to be sort of grabbed by the throat by the opening notes of "In Bocca al Lupo," a high-intensity, high-altitude, primal scream of a piece by James Mobberley that sees Brooks accompanied by (essentially) himself, in a duet between his live violin and a playback of pre-recorded violin samples. The album's liner notes explain that "In Bocca al Lupo" translates as "Into the Mouth of the Wolf" and is the Italian equivalent of "break a leg," and Brooks certainly delivers a rousing, intense, tremolo-laden performance, which endlessly reaches for climax or resolution.
The album doesn't relent on the second track, C. P. First's "Epiphany for Amplified Mandolin, Amplified Violin, and Tape," which features a pioneer in classical mandolin, Demitris Marinos, trading off agitated, uneasy phrases with Brooks. The two sometimes echo each other's thoughts in an almost improvised, jazz-like fashion, and at other times work in separate worlds, building intricate but chaotic structures.
And then, Brooks offers a breather in the form of Hugh Levick's "Nosotros for Violin and Pre-recorded Electronics," the world premiere recording of a piece I found a little puzzling, its late-'80s drum machine backing track sounding like (say) early Meat Beat Manifesto and uneasily contrasting with Brooks' violin, which slides up-and-down the primitive beats, sometimes drowned out by a drum track. Genuinely puzzling, because one may need to move past a sense that such obviously-synthesized drum beats sound cheesy or outmoded; regardless, the track was less emotionally impressive than the rest of the record.
I've nothing but praise and admiration for the remaining four pieces. "Fantasy for Violins and Electronics" makes its way through different musical languages: from the church, where Brooks trades phrases with an organ-like electronic backing track; to the symphony hall, in which violinist begins to meld with a more orchestral, lush electronic sound; and finally out into the cosmos, where drone and poly-rhythms back Brooks as he plays out into a free, heady atmosphere. As on many of the pieces, the electronic track is largely constructed from violin samples, which, even when manipulated, still tend to retain the characteristic timbre of a string instrument.
I'll give you a trippy image to illustrate Zack Browning's "Sole Injection for violin and computer-generated sounds": a bullet train, its wheels replaced by "Simon" games, which randomly and rhythmically light up and beep as the train inches along, away from the station and into (let's say) Candyland. And I'll share an inspiration: Browning reports in the liner notes that he based the piece on MC Hammer's "Adams Groove," which you may recall as the rapper's contribution to
The Adams Family soundtrack. I can think of no worse place to start a song, excepting perhaps Vanilla Ice's "Ninja Rap" from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, but the song is lost in translation, providing only raw material for Browning's magic square composition techniques, which end up supplying a circular, propulsive, bright electronic background for Brooks' violin.
The second of the two world premiere recordings on Brooks' album is a musical theodicy by Butler composition professor Frank Felice, "Brace Yourself Like a Man." The piece's opening theme, a gentle, reaching lament that's recalled at the close, finds Brooks at his most expressive and lyrical. Felice notes that the piece is concerned with those Job-like moments when man is lost in the whirlwind, and there are appropriate ups and downs to the music, rises and falls that mirror the life's vicissitudes.
In the liner notes for his "Shadow Steps for Electric Violin and Computer Music System," the last track from Brooks' album, Patrick Long points to a couple inspirations for his piece: Conlon Nancarrow, whose player piano studies might be said to have preceded computer music, Nancarrow having cut piano scrolls that employed rhythms too complex or fast to be played by any human being; and Carl Jung, whose work was not particularly influential on the development of computer music. Long sets up conflicts in his piece: between the anima and the animus, so he tells us; but less metaphorically, between the piano-computer in hyperdrive and Brooks, who (intentionally) struggles to keep up with the tempo on violin. It's an invigorating piece that offers Brooks one more chance to dig into a demanding score; and while I wouldn't claim to be an expert on violinists, I think it's safe to say that Brooks brings his impressive facility and emotional aptitude to bear on all of these pieces, offering compelling, thoughtful and, above all, exciting performances of these new (since 1989) electro-acoustic works.
Anyone with a passing interest in new music or electronic music ought to take a listen to Brooks' self-released album, designed on the Owl Studios digi-pack template by that label's graphic designer P.J. Yinger; and anyone with more than a passing interest might stop by Butler to hear what Brooks — or his colleagues Felice and composer Michael Schelle – are up to this year.

Review of Davis Brooks, 'Violin and Electronics'  by critic Jurgen Meurer at Babyblaue - Seiten
May 2011


Was uns der amerikanische Geiger Davis Brooks auf seinem Soloalbum präsentiert, ist schon wirklich schwerer Stoff! Der Albumtitel sagt schon klar aus, worum es geht. Wobei die Betonung eindeutig auf “Violin” liegt, denn in erster Linie geht es um die Interpretationen neo-klassischer Musik von einem ausgebildeten Geiger, der seine Versionen mit elektronischen Elementen anreichert.
Diese elektronischen Elemente sind aber nicht im Sinne von Arrangements im Stile der Berliner Schule gemeint, sondern passend zum eher avantgardistischen Ansatz des Albums.
Diese Art Musik deckt sich eher nicht mit meinen üblichen Hörgewohnheiten, insofern fallen mir Vergleiche wie auch eine Benotung sehr schwer. Der Avantgarde-Anteil ist recht hoch, wer Ohrwurmmelodien hören möchte, liegt hier sicherlich falsch.
Brooks interpretiert hier insgesamt sieben Werke diverser Komponisten neo-klassischer Musik, im einzelnen sind dies: James Mobberley (Jahrgang 1954), C.P. First (1960), Hugh Levick (1943), James Aikman (1959), Zack Browning (1953), Frank Felice (1961), Patrick Long (1968). Dass ich mich in dieser Branche nicht auskenne, zeigt, dass mir mit einer Ausnahme diese Namen rein gar nichts sagen. Es handelt sich ausschließlich um amerikanische Komponisten, mit denen Brooks zum Teil auch schon zusammen gearbeitet hatte.
Das Album wird eröffnet mit “in bocca al lupo” von James Mobberley. Im Titel geht es um das klassische “Hals- und Beinbruch”, das man als gut gemeinten Wunsch einem Künstler mit auf den Weg gibt, kurz bevor er die Bühne betritt. Der Einsatz von Tremolos soll die Nervosität eines Auftritts darstellen. Brooks spielt hier eine Sologeige, die von auf Computer abgespeicherten Geigensamples begleitet werden. Eigenwilliger Ansatz!
Es folgt die Neubearbeitung eines Titels von C.P. First, der Teil einer Serie von Stücken für Geige und Mandoline ist. Hier wird Brooks vom griechischen Mandoline-Spieler Dimitris Marinos begleitet. Auch hier gilt: harter Tobak, aber durchaus mit einigen ziemlich interessanten Aspekten.
„Nosotros for violin and pre-recorded electronics“ hat eine sehr perkussive Note und erinnert mich sogar mal ein wenig an King Crimson zu „larks‘ tongues in aspic“ Zeiten, als David Cross und Jamie Muir an Geige bzw. Perkussionsinstrumenten wesentlichen Anteil am damaligen Sound von King Crimson hatten.
„Fantasy for violin and electronics“ bildet schon fast eine Ausnahme auf diesem Album, denn dieser Song strahlt – zumindest in einigen Passagen - im Gegensatz zu den meisten anderen Titeln auch mal eine gewisse Ruhe aus.
Diese Ruhe hält allerdings nicht lange an, was schade ist, denn von dieser Art hätte ich mir mehr erwünscht auf diesem Album. Es geht im Stile der ersten Titel weiter, der Hörer wird weiterhin extrem gefordert. Ich habe Schwierigkeiten, das Album im Ganzen zu hören, meist höre ich es in Etappen. Was vermutlich keine so schlechte Idee ist, denn das im ersten Moment Abschreckende dieser für mich neuartigen Musik beim ersten Durchlauf legt sich mit der Zeit, wenn man sich mal einzelne Titel herauspickt und „in Ruhe“ (was bei dieser Musik eigentlich nicht geht) zu Gemüte führt.

Wenn ich mich jetzt zum Beispiel an Titel Nummer 5 heranwage, erinnert mich ein kurzer Ausschnitt von der Atmosphäre her an eine Passage eines Titels vom Second Hand Album „Death may be your Santa Claus“, wo auch mal kurz ein Geiger ins Geschehen eingreift. Aber es bleibt dabei – diese Art Musik ist (und bleibt vermutlich) sehr ungewohnt, und letztendlich trifft es nicht wirklich mein Geschmackszentrum. Eine interessante Hörerfahrung ist dies aber allemal.
Von daher ist dieses Werk für mich schon recht beeindruckend, denn es zeigt ein außergewöhnliches Zusammenspiel von klassischer Geige und elektronischen Spielereien, eine Ansammlung vieler interessanter Ideen, wenn auch das Gesamtwerk für meinen Geschmack etwas zu „nervös“ klingt.
Wie gesagt – extrem starker Tobak, was hier geboten wird, und von daher auch nur denjenigen zu empfehlen, die sich auch gerne mal an avantgardistischere Töne wagen.
Wer mehr über den Künstler erfahren möchte, wird
hier fündig.
Wie bereits oben erwähnt, fehlt mir die Erfahrung in diesem Musikbereich, und da ich die Originalvorlagen nicht kenne, kann ich auch deren Umsetzung nicht wirklich beurteilen und enthalte mich von daher ausnahmsweise bei der Benotung. Die Kompetenz des Musikers steht absolut außer Frage, für Geigenfreunde ist es sicherlich auch eine interessante Erfahrung, was so alles aus diesem Instrument herauszuholen ist.