Brian W. Holmes was born in Washington D.C. on August 6, 1946. He graduated from Pomona College and earned a PhD in experimental low temperature physics from Boston University. He is now (1999) a professor of Physics at San Jose State University in San Jose, California, and is active as a free-lance horn player, performing with the San Jose Symphony and Opera San Jose.
While in Boston, Holmes studied horn with Harry Shapiro and played in the Cambridge Symphonic Brass Quintet. Many of his arrangements for brass and chorus have been performed and recorded by Revels, Inc. One such arrangement, "Strike Up Your Instruments of Joy," is published by Thorpe as part of the Revels Choral Series (No. 392-03032).
As a composer, Holmes often writes for solo voice and chorus. His involvement with Revels sparked an interest in setting texts related to Christmas. Five Medieval Songs and Carols for women's chorus, Five Medieval Carols for mixed voices, Now is the Time for baritone, chorus, brass and timpani, and the one-act Christmas opera One Shepherd Stayed Behind (with words co-written with his father, Fenwicke Holmes) all reflect this interest.
Another choral work for Christmas that shows Holmes natural gift for melody, coupled with fine compositional technique, is the prize-winning carol "I Saw a Fair Maiden" for unaccompanied mixed voices (Thorpe No. 392-03053).
Brian Holmes has also composed numerous songs, song cycles, choral works and instrumental works, including a concerto for toy piano and orchestra. Several works have been recorded by the Peninsula Women's Chorus and by the Stanford University Chorale.
Holmes interests in physics and music overlap. He does research on the physics of musical instruments and has occasionally composed music related to science. His "Updike's Science," for example, is a set of six songs about science, composed to humorous poems of John Updike. He has also lectured on the physics of musical instruments at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oberlin College, Cornell University, Brown University, Boston University, Boston College, Pomona College, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Physical Society, and the Acoustical Society of America.
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