Athanasios Zervas | About



ATHANASIOS ZERVAS is a prolific composer, theorist, performer, conductor, teacher, and scholar. He has spent most of his career in Chicago and Greece, though his music has been performed around the globe and on dozens of recordings. He is a specialist on pitch-class set theory, contemporary music, composition, orchestration, improvisation, music of the Balkans and Middle East, and traditional Greek music.


He holds a DM in composition and an MM in saxophone performance from Northwestern University, and a BA in music from Chicago State University. He studied composition with M. William Karlins, William Russo, Stephen L. Syverud, Alan Stout, and Jay Alan Yim; saxophone with Frederick Hemke and Wayne Richards; jazz saxophone and improvisation with Vernice ‘Bunky’ Green, Joe Daley, and Paul Berliner; and jazz orchestration/composition with William Russo. 


Dr. Zervas is chief editor of the electronic music theory/composition journal mus-e-journal. His research interests focus on the music of Elliott Carter, Ralph Shapey, Dinos Constantinides, the “third stream”, and contemporary music for saxophone. His articles and research papers have been published by the University of Athens Greece, University of Macedonia Greece, the MUSE Institute of Greece, the Greek Composers Union, the Hellenic Saxophone Association, the mus-e-journal, and others. 


As a composer, Athanasios Zervas has written music for brass, woodwinds, strings, piano, voice, and electronics, as well as several works for film. His work has been performed across Europe, Africa, and the US, including a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City. He is the recipient of numerous academic and composition awards, among them the W. T. Faricy Award for Creative Music. His post-serial musical language reflects qualities of “new complexity aesthetics” and often fuses elements of Byzantine chant, microtonal sonorities, polyrhythm, and lyric fragments of traditional Greek tunes.


Dr. Zervas is the founder and soprano saxophonist of the Athens Saxophone Quartet, and he has performed around the world as a soloist for saxophone and flute. His European solo performances include the State Orchestra of Hellenic Music, Athens Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, State Orchestra of Athens, Athens Contemporary Ensemble, State Orchestra of Thessalonica, Larissa Symphony Orchestra, and the Symphony of Constanta (Romania). In the U.S., solo performances include the Louisiana Sinfonietta, Chicago Jazz Ensemble, and Chicago Symphonic Wind Ensemble. He has played at major concert venues around the world, including Carnegie Hall (New York City), Schubert Theater (Boston), Pick Staiger Concert Hall (Evanston, Illinois), Mandel Hall (Chicago), Ravinia Festival (Lake Forest, Illinois), Herodion Odeon (Athens), the Megaron Concert Hall of Athens, the Megaron Concert Hall of Thessaloniki, Epidarus Ancient Theater (Athens), and at the Olympic Stadium in the opening and closing ceremony during the 2004 Olympics. 

There are more than 60 compositions written for him by Greek, American, European, and African composers, and Dr. Zervas has recorded with BMG, EMI, FM Records, Libra Music Ltd, Mercury/Universal Co., Magni Records, and Centaur Records.


Athanasios Zervas is the music director and conductor of the Concert Band and the Big Band of the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki. He has served as guest conductor of the Orchestra of Contemporary Music of the Greek National Radio/TV, the Symphony Orchestra of the Greek National Radio/TV, and the Larissa Symphony Orchestra. From 1999 to 2006, he conducted the Athens Jazz Orchestra and the Athens Contemporary Ensemble. In Chicago, he was conductor of the St. Andrews Greek Orthodox Church Choir from 1993 to 1997.


Currently, Dr. Zervas is an Assistant Professor of music theory at the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki, Greece, where he has taught since 2003. Previously, he taught composition, theory, saxophone, and improvisation at Chicago State University, Columbia College Chicago, and Northwestern University. From 1997 to 2003, Dr. Zervas taught at the University of Indianapolis-Athens, the Music Conservatory of Nakas, the Contemporary Music Conservatory of Athens, the Art Music School, the Greek Military Academy, and the University of Crete-Rethymno. From 2002 to 2004 he was the coordinator of the Kalavrita International Summer Seminars in Contemporary Music/Composition and Saxophone, and in 2004 he was director of the international jazz festival at Megaron of Music-Thessaloniki.


Dr. Zervas was president of the Hellenic Saxophone Association from 1999 to 2008, and is a member of the Greek Composers Union, the Contemporary Music Society, the Greek Musicological Society, National Association of Composers/USA (NACUSA), and the North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA).

Resume & CV

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