Christopher Lee Fraley, Composer
Pacific composer Christopher Lee Fraley focuses on telling stories through music, writing music that is tuneful and accessible while preserving those aspects that make classical music so engaging: interesting counterpoint, rich harmonies, expressive structures, varied color palette, and careful craftsmanship.
Fraley’s compositions have been premiered by the Byrd Ensemble, Cascadian Chorale, Radiance, Kona Choral Society, Master Chorus Eastside, and the Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra. He continues to write works for chorus, chamber ensembles, and orchestra, and his credits include over thirty choral settings, two operettas, string quartets, eight tone poems, a symphony, and pieces for piano and various chamber ensembles.
In addition to managing his publishing company, Fraley Music, Chris also sings tenor with Kona Choral Society, where he is tenor/bass section leader, board member, and substitute director, occasionally plays cello and guitar, and loves studying how musical sounds combine.
Long Form Biographical Sketch
Pacific composer Christopher Lee Fraley learned the art of composition by private study with several composers: Peter (Nagy-Farkas) Wolf (1994-2010), Bern Herbolsheimer (2007), Roupen Shakarian (2014), and John Muehleisen (2018-2019).
Fraley’s early compositional efforts were focused on orchestral and chamber music. From 1997 to 1999, he worked on several projects for Chaspen Foundation for the Arts (Redmond, WA), including two Young Composer’s Grants: the first in 1997 to write Red Riding Hood, a children’s operetta which premiered Oct-1997; the second to write and record Frog Prince, a children’s operetta which premiered Nov-1998. The November of 1999 saw a second set of performances of Red Riding Hood at Meydenbauer Center (Bellevue, WA).
2002 and 2003 were particularly fruitful, with notable orchestral and chamber performances including Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra (Fanfare for Life), Max Aronoff Chamber Music Series (Piano Trio No. 1 “The Fish Trio”), Foss High School via the Seattle Composer’s Alliance (Eire’s Call), and a recital titled Paintings of Song (String Quartet No. 2, Piano Trio No. 1, Eire’s Call, Piano Preludes).
From 2003 to 2007, Fraley continued to focus on writing orchestral and chamber music. During this period, he composed five more orchestral tone poems, another piano trio, an overture for brass band, and several other chamber works. In addition to writing more art songs, he began to write choral music.
After joining Cascadian Chorale (Bellevue, WA) as a tenor in 2008, Fraley’s interest in choral music was piqued, and it has been his primary focus ever since. Fraley was Cascadian Chorale’s composer-in-residence for 2011-2012, and they premiered his first mass, Missa Historiae, along with I Shall Not Care, Wistful Wind, The Plains, and Reminiscence.
Fraley’s choral works include settings of well-known texts such as Hine ma tov; Break, Break, Break; Wind of the Western Sea (Sweet and Low); A Light exists in Spring; Flanders Fields; and three settings of the Latin mass. Settings of original texts include Island Home, Reborn by Living Water, and In the Shadow of the Son. Arrangements include Now Thank We All Our God, Let Us Be Merry (A Virgin Unspotted), Let all mortal flesh keep silence, Brightest and Best, and Of the Father’s love begotten.
Aside from composing, Fraley worked for the estate of composer Alan Hovhaness from 2007 to 2019 as an advisor, copyist, and technologist, and worked as composer Abe Kapan’s private secretary and copyist from 2017 to 1019. Fraley continues to sing tenor, currently as section leader for the Kona Choral Society, and is learning to play electric guitar.
Fraley has created two creative choral music videos of note, Brightest and Best and A Light exists in Spring, both using animation and visuals to depict the story told by the text. He has dedicated considerable time to researching the science and theory of Just Intonation and its relationship to harmony.
Fraley is currently working on two a cappella mass settings, Missa Dramatica and Missa Cantus, and is always on the lookout for texts that resonate with him and inspire his creative work.