Dan Cavanagh is a composer, pianist, artistic director, and professor. For more, check out


Dan Cavanagh is a composer and pianist who has garnered numerous awards in both areas. He received a 2009 gold medal prize from the National Academy of Music’s International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition. His jazz piano trio was a finalist in the 2013 Bucharest International Jazz Competition, and he was a finalist in the 2011 Jacksonville Jazz Piano competition. Cavanagh received Honorable Mention in the 2007 Gil Evans/IAJE Commission Competition, Featured Performance at the 2006 International Jazz Composers’ Symposium, finalist in the 2002 and 2005 ASCAP Young Jazz Composers competitions, among other awards. His music continues to be performed across the country and internationally. He has received commissions from a wide range of jazz and classical groups across North America and Europe. His music can be found on a variety of American jazz and classical recordings, including Confronting Inertia by trumpeter John Adler, his big band record, Pulse, trio record with Joe McCarthy and Linda Oh, The Heart of the Geyser, and duo record with Dave Hagedorn, Horizon. Cavanagh’s music is published by Sierra Music Publications, Walrus Music (eJazzLines), UNC Jazz Press, and Echo Composers.

Cavanagh is the founding Artistic Director and pianist of the American Jazz Composers Orchestra, a big band dedicated to performing music written by living American composers. He has performed with Grammy-winners Joe McCarthy and Irma Thomas, and many leading jazz musicians. Cavanagh serves as an Associate Professor of Music and the Director of Music Industry Studies at The University of Texas at Arlington.

As a composer, I am very interested in intersections – intersections between different genres, art forms, composers and performers, audiences and musicians, society and art. I have long produced work that blurs lines in organic ways. Trained as a jazz composer, classical composer, and jazz pianist, I strive to write music within and between each tradition. Some of my composing in the past five years has dealt with the natural integration of improvisation into a more fully-notated context, apart from the standard jazz approaches. Drawing from my background in large jazz ensemble and classical composition, I recently wrote a substantial piano concerto that naturally integrates improvisation into the piano part. My compositional influences span the gamut of 20th- and 21st-century art music, from Witold Lutoslawski to John Hollenbeck, Maria Schneider to John Adams, Gil Evans to Dave Douglas, Billy Strayhorn to Anthony Braxton.