Jere Hutcheson was born in Marietta, Georgia, in 1938. He studied composition with Frances Buxton at Stetson University, Helen Gunderson at Louisiana State University, H. Owen Reed at Michigan State University, and Gunther Schuller, and Ernst Krenek at the Berkshire Music Center, Tanglewood, Massachusetts. His earliest inspiration to become a composer came in his early teen years from his piano teacher, Harry Bolza.
Hutcheson's teaching career at Michigan State University spans 51 years from 1965 until 2016. He chaired the composition area from 1975 until 1992. He stated on more than one occasion that MSU was a land of opportunity for anyone with ideas and dreams. He often said, “MSU has been good to me.” He recognized that the great institution provided an environment in which he could grow in his scholarship, in his teaching skills, and most especially, in his passion – composition. He recognized the value of a composer’s being able to work side-by-side with conductors, performers, theorists, musicologists, as well as other composers.
Hutcheson has received composition fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, and the Vermont Composers Conference. He was accorded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Michigan Council for the Arts, and the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music. He has received numerous awards and commissions throughout his career. In 1976, the National Music Teachers Association honored him with the citation Distinguished Composer of the Year.
His works have been performed throughout the USA and Canada, as well as in Europe, Asia, and Australia. He has received performances by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Greater Lansing Symphony Orchestra, the Edward Tarr Brass Ensemble, the Verdehr Trio, the Norman Luboff Choir, the Duo Contemporain of the Netherlands, DuoDenum of Denmark, and many of the finest university wind ensembles and concert choirs in most states of the USA.
Hutcheson achieves a symphonic sound in his band scores. When asked how he manages this, his response can be summarized in the following: “I’m not entirely sure, but I know this much: My training was in piano. I never played in an orchestra or band. I come to my scoring through my fingers on the keyboard. My inner ear helps me to imagine and choose the sounds I like.” He has returned to the band medium often, producing several dozen works. Perhaps the best known of these are his five sets of Caricatures, short tone poems reflecting upon the stylistic features of a wide variety of writers, visual artists, composers, and theater personages.
In addition to a large output for the band and wind ensemble media, Hutcheson has written extensively for orchestra, chorus, voice, chamber ensembles, and piano.
Hutcheson’s instrumental compositions are published by C. Alan Publications, G. Schirmer, Subito Music, American Composers Edition, and Dorn Publications. His choral works are published through Walton and Subito Music.
The Jere Hutcheson Archive in the Library at Michigan State University holds Hutcheson’s complete compositional output (scores and recordings), as well as many early drafts, notes on compositional processes, correspondence, etc.
Jere Hutcheson co-authored MUSICAL FORM AND ANALYSIS with Glenn Spring (Waveland Press), 2013. His earlier texts include MUSIC FOR THE HIGH SCHOOL CHORUS, co-authored with James Niblock (ALLYN & BACON), 1967, and MUSICAL FORM AND ANALYSIS: A PROGRAMMED COURSE in two volumes (Allyn & Bacon/Crescendo Press), 1972.