John Franzen

  I have written and directed three operas.
 “Doomeager”  - San Francisco at the Firehouse Theater 
 “Bone Songs”  - Copenhagen at the Mermaid Theatre
 “Lightning”  -  Minneapolis at The Heart of the Beast Theater 

I was Music Director and Composer for the Firehouse Theater in San Francisco for 4 years.  We toured nationally from New York to Los Angeles. 

I have been the Music Director and/or Composer for several theater companies in Minneapolis and have composed numerous scores for theatrical productions.  I was Composer-in-Residence for the city of Minneapolis for one year which was sponsored and funded by a joint grant of the U.S. government, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the city of Minneapolis.  I was active in the modern dance community in Minneapolis, writing many scores for choreographers across the country. 

I have composed original music for 3 films.  One of them, “Autumn Passage” won a bronze medal at the Chicago film festival.  The other 2 films were shown as part of an art installation in London, New York, and Minneapolis.

Much of my work has involved experimental concepts using electronic and traditional instruments as well as theatrical and dance elements.  However, I have written many pieces for theater in traditional veins such as folk, jazz, ethnic, classical, and popular idioms. 

I have been a music teacher all of my life primarily focusing on the guitar.  Banjo is my second instrument.  I have taught ages 3 to 80.  I have taught the mentally and physically handicapped individuals at various social agencies.  I have worked with at-risk teenagers, helping them form a rock band.  I taught guitar at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul.  I have taught guitar to inmates at Stillwater State Prison, helping them achieve their BA degrees.  For 3 years I taught music for several grade schools throughout the state of Minnesota under the auspices of the Minnesota Board of Education.  In the schools I taught math, science, English, history, and art through the use of music. 

I can teach guitar styles such as classical, blues, folk, jazz, and popular with a emphasis on finger-style.  I teach students to read notation as well as to improvise.  I introduce music theory to help them understand what they are playing.  I play traditional “clawhammer” as well as bluegrass on the banjo.  I play steel-string, classical, electric and MIDI guitars.  I use various computer-aided tools for composition and performance.  I am accomplished in MIDI sequencing, notation, and software synthesis.  I usually write and record all of my music with the computer. 

My education includes ethnomusicology, musical composition, and electronic music at the University of Minnesota and contemporary music composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  

 My special musical interests include early music, American folk, and experimental music.  I have been an electronic musician since the early 1970’s using homemade synthesizers, tape machines, and computers.  I compose, play, and record music daily.  I am an eclectic person who loves music from ancient times to the future.  

 I admire music from the whole planet.

My non-musical interests include photography, hiking and reading.

I have been a Human Resources Director, professional photographer, retail store manager, salesman, and ice cream vendor in past lives.