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Fred Strong Papers

Collection ID: DCR MG 16

Content Description

This collection is primarily comprised of Fred Strong's musical compositions for piano and vocal scores, focusing on humanist, secular, and natural themes. Included in the collection is one of the composers most famous pieces – BANG! The Musical, a composition for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. As described by the composer, "BANG! takes the audience on a trip through time and space from the big bang to present-day Earth, with a humanist message about our choices and responsibilities. The music ranges from doo-wop to hip-hop and folk to jazz."


  • 1991-2020
  • Other: Date acquired: 04/12/2021



0.4 Linear Feet

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restrictions. Original compositions, audio visuals and booklets must be viewed in-person.

Conditions Governing Use

Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries. Fred Strong has granted ODU faculty, staff, and students permission to perform his compositions royalty free.

Biographical / Historical

Fred Strong was born in Shreveport, Louisiana but spent much of his early life in Norfolk, Virginia (1960 - 1979), where he graduated from Norview High School in 1970. After high school, Strong went on to study musical composition for one year at Shenandoah Conservatory, in Winchester, Virginia, after which he completed his studies at Old Dominion University (ODU).

Having learned the basics of music and piano from his mother, he began writing songs at an early age and sang in choral groups throughout all levels of schooling. While in high school, encouraged and mentored by his choir director, Claire McDermott, he became student director and began to write music of a more serious nature, several works of which were performed by Norview's concert choir, madrigals, and band. His love for writing music motivated him to seek a degree in composition. In addition to his time at ODU, Strong has studied with former Norfolk State University professor and composer Adolphus Hailstork, and taken classes in film scoring and arranging at L.A. Valley College in Los Angeles, California. For many years, Strong enjoyed a career in published music, working in New York City for the music publisher Carl Fischer and owning sheet music retail outlets in Norfolk, Virginia and Portland, Oregon.

Strong's works have been performed across the United States, including Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Williamsburg, Virginia, Los Angeles, New York City, Providence, Rhode Island, and and Washington DC, where his choral piece, The Well, was premiered on the steps of the United States Capitol Building. Until 2020, Strong lived in Portland, Oregon where he developed an annual, secular Winter Solstice celebration called Darktolight for which he wrote several works. For Darktolight 2012, he wrote a musical, BANG!, which celebrates life and evolution originating in the Big Bang. BANG! garnered national attention and is the world's first Freethought musical.

Strong currently resides in Williamsburg, Virginia with his wife, Sandra Brown.

Note written by Fred Strong

Language of Materials



The collection has been organized into two series: Series I: Original Compositions; and Series II: Musical.

Source of Acquisition

Fred Strong

Method of Acquisition

Acc. 2021.004 was hand-delivered to Special Collections and University Archives from the donor on 4/12/2021.

Processing Information

The collection was processed by LaraAnn Canner from April through July 2021.

A Guide to the Fred Strong Papers
Lara Canner
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Diehn Composers Room Collection Repository

189 Diehn Fine & Performing Arts Center
1339 49th St.
Norfolk VA 23529 US