August 27, 2016

Testimonials and Reviews

Musician Testimonials 


The moment I heard David’s “True Divided Light” (for viola and piano) as well as his “Sonata for Cello and Piano” I was convinced that he would compose a world-class work for tuba. His mastery of lyrical writing, his ability to write compelling “new” music which is firmly grounded in history and structure, and his beautiful, neo-Romantic writing won me over immediately. David’s idea to write a piece which capitalized upon the lyrical qualities of the tuba set against a canvas of string orchestra and harp was brilliant and thrilling. It is truly a piece of chamber music- in the same way that a Mahler symphony is: constantly morphing colors and textures, every musician’s part has soloist overtones, forms that build to epic climaxes, moments of transparency bumping up against full-throttled adrenalin. This piece is quickly becoming one of the most profound and “real” pieces in the tuba repertoire.

Jay Hunsberger
Principal Tuba, Sarasota Orchestra
Faculty, University of South Florida


Stewart Robertson Simply put, working with David has been one of the most exciting and rewarding collaborations of my conducting career.  Beginning with the premiere of the first cello concerto and encompassing orchestral, choral and operatic works, I’ve been privileged to conduct many of David’s works both in the USA and Europe.  Most recently I commissioned David to write an operatic version of “Anna Karenina” to celebrate the opening of the new opera house in Miami.  The result was a triumph for David and subsequently we recorded the opera with the St. Louis Symphony.

Each time I approach a new work of David’s I’m caught by surprise over something novel, something unexpected.  His style has changed over the years but what has been constant is that each new work has a luminosity, a sense of magic that is impossible to explain in words.

Although David’s technical command of orchestration is astonishingly rich in the Straussian sense, his work somehow seems to become simpler, more transparent with each new composition.  This transcendental quality is ever-present and is a unique and key element that draws audiences of all kinds to be captivated on an initial hearing.

Stewart Robertson
Music Director Emeritus, Glimmerglass Festival NY
Artistic Director Emeritus, Atlantic Classical Orchestra, FL



To me, David ‘s music is full of emotion and color, in an easily understandable language for audiences and performers.  He understands form, shape and content and the piece, “True Divided Light” starts out as an exotic dream.  It then leads to the fast, wild, diabolical, moto perpetuo second  movement that can leave everyone breathless, performers included!  It is a huge high to be able to play it and I adore this piece!

Geraldine Walther
Violist, Takacs  Quartet



David Carlson is the real thing.  His music is supremely well-crafted, emotionally fulfilling, and technically challenging.  I’ve had the honor and privilege of commissioning two works from him for saxophone quartet, and have performed his pieces throughout the US and abroad.  Audiences are consistently thrilled and moved by his music, and as a musician, I am constantly challenged and continually rewarded by playing it.  After the premiere of his most recent work for saxophone quartet, conductor Leif Bjaland told me, “That was the most exciting concert I heard all season.”

I have known David for nearly 30 years, and have eagerly anticipated every new work and every new recording.  I have never been disappointed.  His work will endure, and I am happy to have played a small part in the creation of his magnificent oeuvre.

David Henderson
Tenor Saxophone and Founder of Premiere Saxophone Quartet


Emil MilandDavid Carlson’s music is close to my heart. I have had the honor of collaborating with this master craftsman for many years . His voice is singular, inventive and engaging. His musical taste and knowledge is impeccable. Playing David’s music has made me a better cellist and musician. Thank you, Maestro !!

Emil Miland
Cellist, Soloist and Chamber Musician
San Francisco Opera Orchestra



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