Woodwind and Brass
Programs of Study
UMSL Opera Theatre
Winners and Judges
Workshops and Outreach
UMSL School of Fine and Performing Arts
Associate Professor, Music Theory
Coordinator of Music Theory Studies
Zachary Cairns coordinates the music theory curriculum at University of Missouri-St. Louis. He received his Ph.D. in Music Theory from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester (2010), an M.A. in Music Theory (2003) and a B.S. in Music Education (2000) from Penn State University. While at Penn State, he also earned a Performer’s Certificate in Percussion.
Dr. Cairns has presented papers at the Society for Music Theory, as well as numerous regional, national, and international conferences. His primary area of research is the avant garde music of post-Stalinist Russia, focusing primarily on the serial music of Edison Denisov. His work has been published in Music Theory Online, Indiana Theory Review, Gamut, and he has forthcoming articles in Music Theory and Analysis, and Studia musicologica. In 2012, he was awarded a grant from the University of Missouri Research Board to conduct research at the Tanyeev Library of the Chaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, Russia.
As a composer, Dr. Cairns' works have been performed across the United States and in Europe. His work "Two Pieces for Baritone Saxophone and Percussion" won first prize in the 2014 Percussive Arts Society's Composition Contest. An expanded version of that work, "Interactions for Baritone Saxophone and Percussion," was premiered at the World Saxophone Congress (SaxOpen) in Strasbourg, France in July 2015. His "Eight through Eleven" was commissioned by the UMSL Trumpet Ensemble, and was premiered at the International Trumpet Guild Conference in May 2015. A work for wind ensemble titled "Refracted Moonlight" has been performed by several collegiate and advanced high school bands in Missouri and Pennsylvania. Recent premieres also include "Rhythmic Ceremonial Ritual" for 7 antiphonal tambourines (premiered by the UMSL Percussion Ensemble at the 2015 Missouri Music Educators Conference), and "The Land of Nod" for two-part treble choir with piano, clarinet, violin, and percussion (composed for and premiered by the Chorale of the St. Louis Children's Choirs).