Twice the recipient of the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network's Music Award (2013 & 2016), Craig Peaslee's music has been described as bold, brash and unapologetic. Coming to the contemporary composing scene as a jazz performer and arranger, Craig’s compositions have a strong foundation in jazz music and continually find him searching for new ways to incorporate jazz into works for the classical concert music stage, as well as classical elements into jazz pieces.
His works can be traditional, multi-faceted, dissonant, genre-bending and have been known to directly confront social and political issues in order to bring attention to such topics as well as get listeners to critically think and discuss the challenges facing the world we live in. Craig's recent compositions include Second City Strut (2019) for orchestra, tres bailes latinos (2019) for cello and piano, The Death of a Nation (2018) for string quartet and prerecorded media, 8'66" (2018) for solo piano, and The Whistlin' Dixie Suite (2018) for wind quintet.
Recent performances of his works and arrangements have been by Boston's Arcadian Winds, the Flight 584 Big Band from Los Angeles, Extra Crispy Brass Band, The Brew City Big Band in Milwaukee, NIU’s Jazz Orchestra, and The Moonlighter's Orchestra. He was included on a recent compilation album Windswept (Navona Records) featuring the Arcadian Winds woodwind quintet.
Craig holds a Master of Music Degree from Northern Illinois University, other previous studies have been at The Academy of Art University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (where Craig received his baccalaureate in music composition), Roosevelt University and the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan. Instructors he has studied with include Libby Larson, James Aikman, David Maki, Mark Mantel, Reginald Thomas, Phillip Sink, Brian Penkrot, Sahba Aminikia, Jon Welstead, Jon Monhardt, Curt Hanrahan, Don Malone, John Gates and Laura Schwendinger.
Having been raised in a rural village, Craig is impassioned about being able to present new music to smaller communities and areas that do not normally get the opportunity to attend presentations of new and contemporary music. For these reasons, Craig enjoys writing music that is accessible while also sounding new and invigorating.