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Dirge & Second Line (from The Whistlin' Dixie Suite) - Arcadian Winds
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Craig Peaslee

Winner of the 2022 American Prize for Instrumental Chamber Music Composition (Fragile for Brass Quintet), Craig Peaslee is a composer, arranger, and guitarist whose music explores the hybridization of American Jazz and Western Classical music traditions. 


A disabled veteran, Craig’s works are representative of the struggles veterans encounter with assimilation and alienation while returning to civilian life and the experience of serving active duty. Other works directly confront the socio-political issues of our time, conveying the issues in musical terms in order for the listener to think more critically regarding their community, culture, and society. With a clear personal musical identity, Craig’s harmonic, rhythmic, and technical explorations sear a sonic imprint into the audience through the fusion of disparate genres into the liminal space between idioms and cultures. 


In 2021, Craig’s orchestral work, Second City Strut, took First Place in the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Composition Contest. He also saw two of his works become finalists in three separate categories of the American Prize: The Death of a Nation for string quartet and pre-recorded media in the Composition for Chamber Ensemble category (for which it received a Special Judges’ Citation for Social Relevance and Musical Quality), and Second City Strut a finalist in the Orchestra Composition category and Third Place in the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award. 

For a variety of projects, Craig has received funding from the Presser Foundation, ARTZenter, Illinois Arts Council, Shay Foundation, Kohler Foundation, University of Miami, Frost School of Music, and Northern Illinois University. These projects include the albums And Justice for ... and Windswept.

Craig has presented projects at the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine of Florida, the University of Miami, Northern Illinois University, Ohio University, Frost School of Music, Indiana State University, Northern Georgia University, Florida International University, and conferences hosted by the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers, the Society of Composers Inc., and the National Association of Composers/USA.

Recent performances of compositions and arrangements have been by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Henry Mancini Orchestra, Julius Quartet, Bowery Trio, Northern Illinois University's Graduate Brass Quintet, Arcadian Winds, Flight 5-8-4 Big Band from Los Angeles, The Moonlighter's Orchestra, Extra Crispy Brass Band and Brew City Big Band of Milwaukee, and the jazz ensembles of the University of Wisconsin, Northern Illinois University, Ohio University, and the University of Miami's Frost School of Music.

Growing up in a rural village, Craig is passionate about presenting new music to small communities and areas that do not normally get the opportunity to attend concerts featuring new music. For these reasons, Craig enjoys writing music that is accessible while also sounding new and invigorating.

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