The Kennedy Center

Augusta Read Thomas

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    Meet the Musician: Augusta Read Thomas' music

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    Meet the Musician: Augusta Read Thomas and the NSO


Augusta Read Thomas, born in 1964 in Glen Cove, New York, is the Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra until May 2006. She was an Associate Professor on the composition faculty at the Eastman School of Music from 1993-2001 and is now a Professor of Music at Northwestern University. Since 2000, Ms. Thomas has been on the Board of Directors of the American Music Center. Her work is published exclusively by G. Schirmer.

Conductors including Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Mstislav Rostropovich, Seiji Ozawa, Christoph Eschenbach, Cliff Colnot, Esa-Pekka Salonen, David Robertson, Lorin Maazel, Marin Alsop, Oliver Knussen, Andrey Boreyko, George Benjamin, Leonard Slatkin, Gerard Schwarz, Jack Delaney, Hans Vonk, Markus Stenz, Dennis Russell Davies, Mariusz Smolij, Jahja Ling, Lawrence Leighton Smith, Gil Rose, Bradley Lubman, and Hugh Wolff have conducted her music.

Upcoming projects include: Silver Chants the Litanies, homage to Luciano Berio, for solo horn and ensemble, commissioned by Southern Methodist University, Jack Delaney, conductor, for a premiere in February 2004 in Dallas; Tangle , for orchestra, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to be premiered with David Robertson conducting in March 2004 in Chicago; Galaxy Dances, a ballet for orchestra, commissioned by The National Symphony to be premiered with Mstislav Rostropovich conducting in May 2004 in Washington D.C.; Whispers of Summer for 3 cellos, commissioned by the Manchester International Cello Festival and premiered in May, 2004; Gathering Paradise, Emily Dickinson Settings, for solo soprano and orchestra, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to be premiered with Lorin Maazel conducting in September 2004 in New York; and Grace Notes, for orchestra, for the Pierre Boulez birthday concert in January 2005, commissioned, with Festival Présences, by The Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, to be conducted by Markus Stenz in Paris.

Recent projects include: Light the First Light of Evening, for chamber orchestra, commissioned by the London Sinfonietta for the 50th birthday celebration of Oliver Knussen, premiered at Queen Elizabeth Hall in June 2002, George Benjamin conducting; Chanting to Paradise, for soprano soloist, large chorus, and orchestra, commissioned by the NDR and Christoph Eschenbach was premiered and toured through Germany in November 2002. This work received its American Premiere in January 2003 by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Mr. Eschenbach conducting. Canticle Weaving , for trombone and orchestra, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was premiered in March 2003, Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting.

Past projects and premieres include: Prayer Bells, for orchestra, commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and premiered in May 2001; Daylight Divine, for soprano, children's chorus, and orchestra, commissioned by John Nelson, Indianapolis Children's Choir, the American Boy Choir and Soli Deo Gloria, premiered at the Festival Saint Denis in Paris in June 2001; Aurora: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, co-commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, premiered with Daniel Barenboim as solo pianist and conductor in Berlin in June 2000; Ceremonial, commissioned and premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim conducting in January 2000; and Song in Sorrow, for solo soprano, six additional solo female voices, orchestra, and chorus, commissioned and premiered by the Cleveland Orchestra, Jahja Ling conducting in June 2000.

Ms. Thomas' chamber-opera Ligeia, (Librettist: Leslie Dunton-Downer, based on a short story by Poe) was awarded the prestigious International Orpheus Prize (Luciano Berio: President of the jury) and was performed in Spoleto, Italy (Luca Ronconi, Director). Ligeia, commissioned by Mstislav Rostropovich and Rencontres Musicales d'Evian, was premiered by Maestro Rostropovich in the 1994 Evian Festival. The American Premiere took place at the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado in July 1995.

Augusta Thomas was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University from 1991 to 1994. She was a Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College in 1990. She studied with Jacob Druckman at Yale University; Alan Stout and Bill Karlins at Northwestern University.

Augusta Thomas has received prizes and awards from: The Siemens Foundation in Munich, ASCAP, BMI, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the John W. Hechinger Foundation, the Kate Neal Kinley Foundation, The Debussy Trio Music Foundation and Thomas van Straaten, Columbia University (Bearns Prize), the Naumburg Foundation, the Fromm Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, Harriett Eckstein, Chamber Music America, a prize in the French International Competition of Henri Dutilleux, The Rudolph Nissim Award from ASCAP, the New York State Council for the Arts, a Finalist Award in the Massachusetts Artists Fellowship Program, and the Indiana State University Orchestral Music Prize. She was awarded the Third Century Award from the Office of Copyrights and Patents in Washington, D.C.
Augusta Thomas