Murray Gross

An award-winning composer and teacher, Murray Gross has also been honored by the American Symphony Orchestra League as one of the outstanding conductors in the nation. His compositions have been performed across the country, been broadcast over National Public Radio, and have received many honors including a Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) Award.

Dr. Gross studied at the Interlochen Arts Academy, New England Conservatory and the Oberlin Conservatory. He spent two years composing and conducting in Munich, Germany, and also trained at the Pierre Monteux Domaine School and the International Bartok Festival in Hungary. Chosen by Antal Dorati in 1980 to serve as Assistant Conductor of the Detroit Symphony, he led that orchestra in hundreds of educational, pops and community concerts. An active guest conductor on several continents, he is the former Music Director of Michigan’s West Shore Symphony.

Compositions by Murray Gross have been heard in venues around the world played by numerous professional and collegiate ensembles including the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the New York New Music Ensemble, the Nobilis Trio, the Peninsula Festival Orchestra, and the Wisconsin Winds. His music has been broadcast over National Public Radio and received many honors including a Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) Award. Urban Myth, recorded by the North Texas Wind Symphony on the GIA Windworks series, is featured in volume 8 of “Teaching Music Through Performance in Band.” Other recent cd releases include Splash!, recorded by the Cavell Trio, Las Calles de Buenos Aires with the Scott/Garrison Duo, and The Wild, Wild West played by the h2 Sax Quartet. A new compilation of chamber music by Murray Gross titled Talking in my Sleep is available on the Blue Griffin label.


Charles A. Dana Professor of Music



Educational Background

  • D.M.A., Michigan State University
  • Artist’s Certificate, Munich Conservatory (Germany)
  • M.M., Oberlin College Conservatory
  • B.M., Oberlin College Conservatory

I am...

a musician with a broad range of interests. I combine decades of professional experience with my love of teaching to prepare Alma students for a variety of careers in music.



My career at Alma began in


I'm an expert in

conducting, composition, and music theory, with a strong interest in world music and film music.

Signature course(s):

Composition Lessons, Music Theory, Exploring World Music

Creative work:

2021 and 2022 have seen numerous performances of wind ensemble and chamber works in locations ranging from Italy to Florida to Alma.

Look in the Eyes of People You Don’t Know, based on a poem by Emeritus Professor William Palmer, was premiered by the Alma Symphony on April 13/14, 2019.

2018 saw four performances of Dark Forest for viola solo, in Denmark (Aarhus and Copenhagen), Iceland (Reykjavik) and at Central Michigan University. 

I Loved the Color Blue – this 25-minute song cycle for voice, clarinet, cello, and piano, has been performed at Alma College (2017), The University of Delaware (2017), Murray State University (2016), and Central Michigan University (2016). Excerpts from this cycle have been programmed on recitals throughout the country.

I Surrender: Rhapsody for Clarinet and Orchestra was premiered with the Alma Symphony in 2015 (Wesley Warnhoff soloist) and then performed at Central Michigan University in 2016 (Kennen White soloist).

Las calles de Buenos Aires was performed by the Scott/Garrison Duo with Rajung Yang at the University of Idaho (February 2016), Central Washington University (April 2016), and Washington State University (April 2016). This work was recorded and released on an Albany Records disc in 2016. A review in the Flutist Quarterly praised the “dramatic opening,” calling it a “stunning work,” and Fanfare magazine described the piece as “highly evocative music,” commenting that the “channeling of Piazzolla is sophisticated, as he doesn’t just imitate the Argentine but rather incorporates his gestures into an original musical language.”

Under the Influence for 13 winds was played in April 2016 at Western Illinois University, and April 2015 at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. This popular work has been played by the Bethel University Wind Ensemble (Kansas), the Florida State University Wind Ensemble, the Wisconsin Winds (resident professional ensemble of Carroll College), the Michigan State University Wind Ensemble, and at Western Illinois University.

Splash! for woodwind trio, was played at the University of Kansas, Columbus State University Georgia), and numerous other venues in the past three years. This work was released in 2017 on the Centaur label, performed by the Cavell Trio. A review in Clarinet magazine describes it as offering “three impressions of water, each with a different mood,” stating that it “stands out as particularly fine both for the group’s performances and for the quality of the composition.”

Ah Robin! was premiered by the Alma College Flute Quartet in April 2016.

One by One, a Hanukkah-themed choral piece composed for the Alma Choir, was heard at 2015 Festival of Carols at Alma College.

Just a Moment, for piano solo, was performed at the Indianapolis Historical Society Basile Theater (Indiana) and on the Alton Bynum Recital Series (Gordon College, Massachusetts) in 2015.

Me and My Shadow was played by cellist Jamie Fiste at Central Michigan University in 2015, and will appear on a CD to be released in 2019.

The prestigious Bowling Green New Music Festival included a performance of Watchman, tell us of the night (October 2015). A recording of this work by the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra is available through Naxos Music.

Urban Myth has received dozens of performances by collegiate ensembles, recently including the Oklahoma City University Wind Philharmonic and the Florida State University Wind Orchestra. This work can be heard on the GIA Windworks label as played by the North Texas Wind Symphony, and was given an eleven-page analysis in the book Teaching Music Through Performance in Band. The Sourcebook for Wind Band and Instrumental Music by Russ Girsberger, Frank L. Battisti, and William Berz devotes a chapter to analyzing Urban Myth.

Premiered at a conference of the North American Saxophone Alliance, Breathing Lessons has recently been performed at Ball State University, Central Michigan University, and at Michigan State University (2015).

The electro-acoustic work Traffic was chosen to be part of the Vox Novus 60x60 Environmental Mix, at Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, California (2014). Since then this piece has been heard at the opening concert of the Moonlight on the Mountain New Music Festival (Alabama) and at California State University (Long Beach).

After performances in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), New York City, and Alma, the alto flute solo Mulher Solitária was played by Jennifer Kennard at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts in Minnesota in March 2014.

I Surrender was performed by Javier Perez Garrido on February 14, 2014 at the Conservatorio Profesional de Música de Cartagena (Murcia), Spain. 

The Bateira Trio performed “I can’t quite remember…” at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall as part of the 2014 Composer’s Voice concert series.

Music history/theory/composition:

Composition and Theory