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Anthony Giamanco was born September 22, 1958, in Detroit, Michigan. He began musical studies at the age of 8, and a few years later, took his first forays into music composition. In 1968, his family moved to Taylor. With the advent of his professional career at the age of 17, Anthony was appointed organist/choir director at Community United Methodist Church in Romulus, and, almost simultaneously was hired by St. Alfred Catholic Parish as organist, with his dad as cantor. He has since served as music director at Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Catholic churches throughout the state of Michigan. Although he had brief keyboard training early on with Ronny Phillips (Aneiros), serious study of the piano was postponed until he entered college. At Eastern Michigan University he minored in piano under Dady Mehta. As an elective, he began formal training on the organ with Mary Ida Yost and later, Michelle Johns. Although composition was his first love, he decided to become a voice major, the study of which introduced him to the joys of German lieder, particularly the masterpieces of Schubert.
Composing, however, was not to take a back seat for long. At Eastern Michigan University, in a small group setting, under the tutelage of Anthony Iannaccone, his compositional style began to blossom. As an adolescent, he taught himself how to form chords on the piano, and before long, he was writing short melodies, first with simple harmonies, then increasingly more adventurous, eventually applying his ever-growing knowledge to a variety of musical forms. Self-motivation in developing his ear at this early stage would prepare Anthony well for the more intense musical studies offered at the university level. Certainly analyzing Bach chorales, studying counterpoint, and immersing himself in recordings of masterworks from the Renaissance to the 20th century had an immeasurable influence on his writing.
After three years of college, Anthony settled in Ypsilanti near Eastern Michigan University. Piano, organ, voice and composition studies continued privately, although he actually composed very little music during that time. Opportunities, however, to sub for other church organists presented themselves occasionally, but did not provide a steady income, so he began taking on custodial work.
Around 1984, Anthony moved back to Taylor, and for the next several years, returned to his “roots” as a part-time church music director. Again, to supplement his income, he continued briefly as a custodian, as well as director of the Taylor Community Chorus, then was hired by the Detroit Public Schools as a full-time piano accompanist. He was, nevertheless, able to maintain his position as church music director on a two-day-a-week schedule. During this time, he reignited his love for composing. Although influenced primarily by classical music, his musical tastes became more eclectic, embracing jazz, pop, gospel and folk styles which increasingly informed his writing.
In 1996, his first composition, “Rise Up Shepherd, and Follow” (SATB a cappella), was published. Other choral works followed: “Good News! He’s Alive!” (SAB, piano); “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (TTBB, a cappella); “Take Up Your Cross” (2-part mixed, piano); “We Must Believe” (3-part mixed, piano); “Love Comes Trick-a-lin’ Down” (2-part treble, piano); and “The Cherry Tree Carol” (2-part, piano)—to name a few. Anthony’s first published organ work, “Kum Ba Yah” (Wayne Leupold Editions), was featured around that time in an early issue of The Organist’s Companion. Since then WLE has published many of his organ works, with more titles being readied for future issues.
Anthony’s first full-time position as music director came in early 2000 when he was hired by Shalom Lutheran Church in Pinckney, where he developed a vibrant music ministry, which included adult and children’s choirs, a handbell choir, a brass ensemble, and a contemporary band. He also had opportunities to compose and arrange music for all the ensembles, and dedicated his brass quintet piece, “Celebration March” to their quintet, Celebration Brass.
During this time, Anthony joined the Livingston County Chorale under the direction of Dr. Marilyn Jones, initially as a member of the tenor section, then as assistant director. A number of his choral pieces were performed by the chorale throughout his three-year tenure.
Although he continued composing organ music, his desire to write for the piano grew, and he began creating supplementary pieces for his students, as well as composing hymn settings and original sacred pieces for piano, many of which have since been published by Lorenz. Recently, music for handbells, brass and woodwind ensembles and string quartet have become more prominent in his writing.
In 2005, Anthony left Shalom to accept the full-time music director position at St. Mary Catholic Parish, also in Pinckney, just a mile down the road from Shalom. As at Shalom, Anthony was given the task of re-booting St. Mary’s music ministry, either invigorating or creating ensembles that include adult, youth and children’s choirs; a handchime choir, and two contemporary ensembles. He continues to thrive at St. Mary’s where he also recruits and trains adult and youth cantors for weekend Masses as well as weekday school Masses.
At various times, Anthony has been a member of the AGO, ACDA, and NAPM, among other organizations. He is currently a writer member of ASCAP.
Other musical endeavors include:
Composing a score for an English adaptation of an ancient Greek tragedy, “The Libation Bearers”, which was performed in ancient open-air amphitheaters throughout Greece by students from the University of Detroit-Mercy music/drama departments.
Serving as music director of the Dearborn Youth Theatre for 5 seasons.
Receiving first prize in a composition contest sponsored by Composers Guild for his vocal solo, “Christmas Again”, since published by Darcey Press.
Being awarded 2nd prize twice: once for his TTBB arrangement of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, since published by Jackman Music; and again, for an original vocal/piano setting of “The Lord’s Prayer”.
To date, composing three Mass settings for use in the Catholic liturgy: “Mass of St. Mary”, “Mass for a Global Family”, and “Mass of Praise and Glory” (International Liturgy Publications).
Directing a vocal jazz ensemble, The Moses Group.
Performing vocal recitals of masterworks by Schubert, Britten, Scarlatti,
Anthony currently lives in South Lyon, Michigan, where he continues composing and arranging, reading, exercising, and enjoying his eclectic collection of recordings.