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Received his education from the University of Wisconsin/Madison (B.Mus), the New England Conservatory of Music (M.M.), and Harvard University (A.M., Ph.D.). His teachers have included Leon Kirchner, Gunther Schuller, Donald Martino, John Harbison, and Wm. Thomas McKinley. He received the Koussevitzky Prize in Composition at Tanglewood, the John Knowles Paine Fellowship at Harvard, two ASCAP Grants to Young Composers, numerous Meet the Composer grants, two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a co-founder of the Boston-based consortium "Composers in Red Sneakers".
Bourland has composed over one hundred works for all media: solo instrumental, chamber, vocal and choral music, electro-acoustic music, and music for orchestra. These compositions are published by E.C.Schirmer/Boston, Margun Music, Dorn Publications, and Yelton Rhodes Music, and recorded on Northeastern Records, GM Recordings, and Cambria Records. Commissioners of Bourland music include the Modern Poetry Association/NPR, Pacific Serenades, The Foundation for New American Music, the Portland String Quartet, the Pro Musicis Foundation, Boston Musica Viva, ALEA III, and various GALA choruses. His film scores include "The Wolf at the Door" (1987, CBS/Fox Videocassettes), "The Trouble with Dick" (1986, Academy Video), "Night Life" (1988, RCA/Columbia Videocassettes), and the late James Merrill’s unreleased "Voices from Sandover" (1990, Princeton University). In 1991 Bourland scored a 13 part radio series for National Public Radio entitled "Poets in Person." Since 1992, Bourland received three consecutive commissions for full-length cantatas from five GALA Choruses: Hidden Legacies, Flashpoint/Stonewall (both with lyricist John Hall), and Letters to the Future, that have been performed throughout America. He recently completed a commission for the Topeka Symphony Orchestra’s 50th anniversary entitled Ozma. Currently he is working on a large work for chorus and orchestra entitled "Messengers" with author William McDuff. As an administrator, Bourland served as Chair of the Board for the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles from 1993 to 1995. At UCLA, Dr. Bourland is a Professor and the Director of the electronic music program in the Department of Music, and the Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee for the School of the Arts and Architecture.