Alan Theisen
Associate Professor of Music
Theory and Aural Skills, Saxophone
Department: Music
Office:  Moore 118
P.O. Box:  6693
Phone:  (828) 689-1565
  • Ph.D. in Music Theory and Composition, Florida State University
  • M.M. in Music Theory, University of Southern Mississippi
  • B.M. in Music History and Literature, University of Southern Mississippi

Alan Theisen (b. 4 October 1981) is professor of music at Mars Hill University where he is the coordinator of music theory and composition. He previously taught at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University (Bloomington) after receiving his Ph.D. in music theory and composition from Florida State University and degrees (B.M. – Music History & M.M. Music Theory) from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Theisen’s compositions have been performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia. His music, frequently commissioned by chamber and large ensembles, has been described by composer Dimitri Terzakis as being “the product of a unique talent.” Commissioning organizations include the Argot Trio, A/B Duo, Force Majeure Quintet, Tromboteam!, Samford University, Kontra Duo, Trio Bel Canto, pianist Holly Roadfeldt, the Mana Quartet, Duo Fujin, members of the US Army bands, and the Asheville Community Band. Theisen’s works combine an expressive melodic sensibility, a diverse harmonic language, and elaborate formal designs.

Theisen’s composition for saxophone, “Arcanum,” was recorded by internationally known musician, Chris Condon, and released on Condon’s CD, “Pieces.” Dr. Theisen’s composition has been called “a tour de force for saxophone…that is destined to become a standard.”  You can watch the video of Condon’s performance at Mars Hill University in September 2016 by clicking on the link below.

Theisen also specializes in the analysis & pedagogy of post-1900/contemporary classical music and has presented research on these topics at multiple national and regional music conferences. Theisen has served on the executive and editorial boards of the South Central Society for Music Theory, Music Theory Southeast, Elliott Carter Studies Online, and the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy (online division).

He remains active as a saxophonist (classical recitals, wind ensembles, jazz bands, musical theater productions) and performed in the 2000 and 2003 World Saxophone Congresses. Recent national appearances as a classical saxophonist include performances with Chamber Cartel (Atlanta) and as guest recitalist at the Wichita State University New Voices Festival. Theisen performs with the Asheville Jazz Orchestra, the Nouveau Passe Orchestra, the Gamble-Wilson Swing Orchestra, Rational Discourse (an Asheville-based progressive jazz-rock group), and has played reed books for the Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre and Asheville Community Theatre.

Theisen is the founder and director of the Mars Hill New Music Festival (established 2012).

Visit Dr. Theisen’s website:


Listen to Dr. Theisen perform his own composition Song of Peace for Yusef

Listen to Dr. Theisen perform his arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango with fellow members of the MHU Woodwind Faculty

Saxophonist Chris Condon performed Dr. Theisen’s composition Arcanum in September 2016 in Broyhill Chapel on the campus of Mars Hill University