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Gregory  Spears

Born: 1977
Country of origin: United States of America
"What sets [Spears's operas] apart is the intimate power of Spears’s musical voice, which is unlike that of any composer now working—a kind of shivery, fraught simplicity…In giving us glimpses of hidden selves, his music becomes universal in reach." (The New Yorker)

Gregory Spears writes music for modern and period instruments that blends aspects of romanticism, minimalism, and early music. His work has been called "astonishingly beautiful" (The New York Times), "coolly entrancing" (The New Yorker), and "some of the most beautifully unsettling music to appear in recent memory." (The Boston Globe) In recent seasons he has been commissioned by The Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Cincinnati Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Seraphic Fire, and the JACK Quartet, among others.

Spears has won prizes from BMI and ASCAP as well as awards and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Vagn Holmboe Competition. He holds degrees in composition from the Eastman School of Music (BM), Yale School of Music (MM), and Princeton University (PhD) and traveled to Denmark on a Fulbright Fellowship to study composition with Hans Abrahamsen. He has been an artist-in-residence at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Aaron Copland House, the Rauschenberg Residency at Captiva Island, and was a participant in American Opera Projects' Composers and the Voice 2007-2008 season.

Gregory Spears won a Jerome Composers Commissioning Award to support the composition of his string quartet Buttonwood for the JACK Quartet. The piece was inspired by his experience as composer-in-residence at the Buttonwood Psychiatric Unit in the winter of 2010. At the time, Spears was teaching a course at the Princeton Writing Program called Music and Madness, which explored the connection between mental illness and creativity. Spears has also collaborated with musicologist Simon Morrison at Princeton to realize the original score for Prokofiev's ballet Romeo and Juliet, which was premiered by the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Bard Festival in 2008.

Other recent commissions have come from OPERA America, poet Tracy K. Smith, Christopher Williams Dances, the Dalton School Orchestra, Houston Grand Opera (for the Persian-themed one-act opera The Bricklayer), pianist Marika Bournaki, the Present Music Ensemble, and the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra. In 1999 Spears was awarded a First Music Commission to write a piece for the New York Youth Symphony, which was given its premiere at Carnegie Hall. His music has also been performed by the American Composers Orchestra, Inscape Chamber Orchestra, the NOW Ensemble (the MATA Festival), So Percussion, and Eighth Blackbird.

Much of Spears’ work involves period instruments. Recently, he was commissioned by Seraphic Fire to write a New Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei to replace Franz Süssmayr's contribution to the Mozart Requiem. The new movements were premiered in Miami by Seraphic Fire and the Firebird Chamber Orchestra and were performed with period instruments as part of Seraphic Fire's 2016 East Coast tour. His recent dramatic cantata Virginiana, commissioned by the period instrument ensemble New Vintage Baroque and the Damask vocal ensemble, was inspired by eighteenth-century music. New Amsterdam Records released his early music-inspired chamber Requiem to critical acclaim in 2011. Requiem was commissioned by Christopher Williams Dances and underwritten by the O'Donnell-Green Music and Dance Foundation. He is also writing a dance-opera, Wolf-in-Skins, in collaboration with choreographer Christopher Williams. Excerpts were featured at the OPERA America New Works Forum, and Part One was produced by Philadelphia Dance Projects featuring performers from the Sebastian Chamber Players period ensemble. The Sebastian Players also gave the New York premiere of Our Lady, commissioned by countertenor Ryland Angel as part of the Twelfth Night Festival at Trinity Wall Street.

Spears' first opera, Paul’s Case, recently described as a "masterpiece" and a "gem" (New York Observer) with "ravishing music" (The New York Times), was developed by American Opera Projects, premiered by Urban Arias, restaged at the Prototype Festival in New York, and presented in a new production by Pittsburgh Opera. His opera oratorio O Columbia premiered in 2015 at Houston Grand Opera, and was hailed as “elegantly balanced” and “piercingly moving” (The Wall Street Journal). His children’s opera Jason and the Argonauts, with a libretto by Kathryn Walat, premiered with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2016. Spears' most recent opera, Fellow Travelers, was written in collaboration with librettist Greg Pierce and director Kevin Newbury and premiered at Cincinnati Opera in June 2016. The work was widely acclaimed and described as “an important work”, “ravishing” (Cincinnati Enquirer), “sharp-edged” and “assured of lasting appeal” (The New York Times). Upcoming projects include a double trumpet concerto commissioned by Concert Artists Guild and the BMI Foundation for trumpeter Brandon Ridenour.

Other recent projects include The Tower and the Garden for SATB choir and strings, a commission from The Crossing in Philadelphia, as well as a new song cycle, Walden, commissioned by Vocal Arts DC for baritone Brian Mulligan and pianist Timothy Long. Upcoming premieres include a double trumpet concerto commissioned by Concert Artists Guild and the BMI Foundation for trumpeter Brandon Ridenour, and a new work for harpsichordist Kathleen McIntosh and cellist Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, commissioned by Eleanor Eisenmenger. Gregory Spears is currently working on a new opera with US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, on commission from the Cincinnati Opera, scheduled for premiere in July 2020.

Gregory Spears’s music is published exclusively worldwide by Schott Helicon Music Corporation.

http://www.gregoryspears.com/
1977
Born in Virginia (USA)
1996
ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award
1997
Awarded BMI Foundation Student Composer Award
1999
Awarded a First Music Commission for the New York Youth Symphony and the Carlos Surinach Commission from BMI Foundation; Fulbright Foundation Fellowship at the Royal Danish Academy of Music
Graduated (BM) Eastman School of Music
2000
Virgil Thompson Scholar (Yale University)
2001
Awarded ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award; American Composers Orchestra Whitaker Reading Sessions
Norfolk Chamber Music Festival composition fellow
2002
Graduated (MM) Yale School of Music
Awarded Naumberg Fellowship (Princeton University, 2002-2006), Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Woods Changler Memorial Prize (Yale School of Music)
2004
Artist-in-Residence at Yaddo Artist Community
2007
Resident composer for American Opera Projects’ Composers and the Voice
Graduated (PhD) Princeton University
2008
Original score for Prokofiev’s ballet "Romeo and Juliet" (realization by Gregory Spears and Simon Morrison) premiered by Mark Morris Dance Company and the Bard Festival
2009
American Composers Forum Jerome Composers Commissioning Grant
2010
Premiere of "Buttonwood" with the JACK Quartet; Premiere of "Requiem", commissioned by Christopher Williams Dances
Composer-in-Residence at the Buttonwood Psychiatric Unit
2011
Artist residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo
"Requiem" released on New Amsterdam Records
2012
Premiere of "The Bricklayer" by Houston Grand Opera (HGOco)
Artist residency at the MacDowell Colony
2013
World premiere of "Paul’s Case" with Urban Arias, directed by Kevin Newbury; Premiere of a new "Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei" for the Mozart Requiem by Seraphic Fire and the Firebird Chamber Orchestra; Premiere of "Wolf-in-Skins: Part I" with Christopher Williams Dances
Artist-in-Residence at the Aaron Copland House
2014
"Paul’s Case" presented at PROTOTYPE Festival (New York) and Pittsburgh Opera
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library Gilder-Lehrman Fellowship, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
2015
World premiere of "O Columbia" with Houston Grand Opera (HGOco), directed by Kevin Newbury; Premiere of "Virginiana" by New Vintage Baroque and the Damask Ensemble
Awarded 2015 Carlos Surinach Commission from BMI Foundation
2016
World premiere of "Fellow Travelers" with Cincinnati Opera
Rauschenberg Foundation Artist-in-Residence, in collaboration with choreographer Christopher Williams

per page
  1. Paul's Case

    Paul's Case

    Opera in 2 acts
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    librettist: Spears, Gregory
    Edition: performance material
    Language: English
  2. A New Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei for the Mozart Requiem

    A New Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei for the Mozart Requiem

    for mixed chorus (SATB) and soloists, and orchestra
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Instrumentation: mixed chorus (SATB) and soloists, and chamber orchestra
    Edition: performance material
    Language: Latin
  3. O Columbia

    O Columbia

    An opera-oratorio in three parts
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Instrumentation: 2 oboes and strings
    Edition: performance material
    Language: English
  4. A New Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei for the Mozart Requiem

    A New Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei for the Mozart Requiem

    version for period instrument ensemble, mixed chorus (SATB) and soloists, organ, and strings
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Instrumentation: mixted choir (SATB) and soloists, organ, strings, and period instrument ensemble
    Edition: performance material
    Language: Latin
  5. Toccata (Troika) in preparation

    Toccata (Troika)

    for solo piano
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Instrumentation: solo piano
    Edition: score (also performance score)
    Order No.: ED 30285
    €31.95  *

    Out of stock

  6. Toccata (Wild Horses) in preparation

    Toccata (Wild Horses)

    for solo piano
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Instrumentation: solo piano
    Edition: score (also performance score)
    Order No.: ED 30286
    €31.95  *

    Out of stock

  7. Virginiana

    Virginiana

    for solo voices (SMezTB) and early instrument ensemble
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Instrumentation: solo voices (SMezTB) and early instrument ensemble (or modern instruments)
    Edition: performance material
    Language: English
  8. Fellow Travelers

    Fellow Travelers

    Opera in two acts
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Edition: performance material
    Language: English
  9. Jason and the Argonauts

    Jason and the Argonauts

    An opera for young people
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Instrumentation: harpsichord, violin, viola, and cello
    Edition: performance material
    Language: English

per page
Profile
"What sets [Spears's operas] apart is the intimate power of Spears’s musical voice, which is unlike that of any composer now working—a kind of shivery, fraught simplicity…In giving us glimpses of hidden selves, his music becomes universal in reach." (The New Yorker)

Gregory Spears writes music for modern and period instruments that blends aspects of romanticism, minimalism, and early music. His work has been called "astonishingly beautiful" (The New York Times), "coolly entrancing" (The New Yorker), and "some of the most beautifully unsettling music to appear in recent memory." (The Boston Globe) In recent seasons he has been commissioned by The Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Cincinnati Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Seraphic Fire, and the JACK Quartet, among others.

Spears has won prizes from BMI and ASCAP as well as awards and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Vagn Holmboe Competition. He holds degrees in composition from the Eastman School of Music (BM), Yale School of Music (MM), and Princeton University (PhD) and traveled to Denmark on a Fulbright Fellowship to study composition with Hans Abrahamsen. He has been an artist-in-residence at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Aaron Copland House, the Rauschenberg Residency at Captiva Island, and was a participant in American Opera Projects' Composers and the Voice 2007-2008 season.

Gregory Spears won a Jerome Composers Commissioning Award to support the composition of his string quartet Buttonwood for the JACK Quartet. The piece was inspired by his experience as composer-in-residence at the Buttonwood Psychiatric Unit in the winter of 2010. At the time, Spears was teaching a course at the Princeton Writing Program called Music and Madness, which explored the connection between mental illness and creativity. Spears has also collaborated with musicologist Simon Morrison at Princeton to realize the original score for Prokofiev's ballet Romeo and Juliet, which was premiered by the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Bard Festival in 2008.

Other recent commissions have come from OPERA America, poet Tracy K. Smith, Christopher Williams Dances, the Dalton School Orchestra, Houston Grand Opera (for the Persian-themed one-act opera The Bricklayer), pianist Marika Bournaki, the Present Music Ensemble, and the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra. In 1999 Spears was awarded a First Music Commission to write a piece for the New York Youth Symphony, which was given its premiere at Carnegie Hall. His music has also been performed by the American Composers Orchestra, Inscape Chamber Orchestra, the NOW Ensemble (the MATA Festival), So Percussion, and Eighth Blackbird.

Much of Spears’ work involves period instruments. Recently, he was commissioned by Seraphic Fire to write a New Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei to replace Franz Süssmayr's contribution to the Mozart Requiem. The new movements were premiered in Miami by Seraphic Fire and the Firebird Chamber Orchestra and were performed with period instruments as part of Seraphic Fire's 2016 East Coast tour. His recent dramatic cantata Virginiana, commissioned by the period instrument ensemble New Vintage Baroque and the Damask vocal ensemble, was inspired by eighteenth-century music. New Amsterdam Records released his early music-inspired chamber Requiem to critical acclaim in 2011. Requiem was commissioned by Christopher Williams Dances and underwritten by the O'Donnell-Green Music and Dance Foundation. He is also writing a dance-opera, Wolf-in-Skins, in collaboration with choreographer Christopher Williams. Excerpts were featured at the OPERA America New Works Forum, and Part One was produced by Philadelphia Dance Projects featuring performers from the Sebastian Chamber Players period ensemble. The Sebastian Players also gave the New York premiere of Our Lady, commissioned by countertenor Ryland Angel as part of the Twelfth Night Festival at Trinity Wall Street.

Spears' first opera, Paul’s Case, recently described as a "masterpiece" and a "gem" (New York Observer) with "ravishing music" (The New York Times), was developed by American Opera Projects, premiered by Urban Arias, restaged at the Prototype Festival in New York, and presented in a new production by Pittsburgh Opera. His opera oratorio O Columbia premiered in 2015 at Houston Grand Opera, and was hailed as “elegantly balanced” and “piercingly moving” (The Wall Street Journal). His children’s opera Jason and the Argonauts, with a libretto by Kathryn Walat, premiered with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2016. Spears' most recent opera, Fellow Travelers, was written in collaboration with librettist Greg Pierce and director Kevin Newbury and premiered at Cincinnati Opera in June 2016. The work was widely acclaimed and described as “an important work”, “ravishing” (Cincinnati Enquirer), “sharp-edged” and “assured of lasting appeal” (The New York Times). Upcoming projects include a double trumpet concerto commissioned by Concert Artists Guild and the BMI Foundation for trumpeter Brandon Ridenour.

Other recent projects include The Tower and the Garden for SATB choir and strings, a commission from The Crossing in Philadelphia, as well as a new song cycle, Walden, commissioned by Vocal Arts DC for baritone Brian Mulligan and pianist Timothy Long. Upcoming premieres include a double trumpet concerto commissioned by Concert Artists Guild and the BMI Foundation for trumpeter Brandon Ridenour, and a new work for harpsichordist Kathleen McIntosh and cellist Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, commissioned by Eleanor Eisenmenger. Gregory Spears is currently working on a new opera with US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, on commission from the Cincinnati Opera, scheduled for premiere in July 2020.

Gregory Spears’s music is published exclusively worldwide by Schott Helicon Music Corporation.

http://www.gregoryspears.com/
Works
Chronology
1977
Born in Virginia (USA)
1996
ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award
1997
Awarded BMI Foundation Student Composer Award
1999
Awarded a First Music Commission for the New York Youth Symphony and the Carlos Surinach Commission from BMI Foundation; Fulbright Foundation Fellowship at the Royal Danish Academy of Music
Graduated (BM) Eastman School of Music
2000
Virgil Thompson Scholar (Yale University)
2001
Awarded ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award; American Composers Orchestra Whitaker Reading Sessions
Norfolk Chamber Music Festival composition fellow
2002
Graduated (MM) Yale School of Music
Awarded Naumberg Fellowship (Princeton University, 2002-2006), Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Woods Changler Memorial Prize (Yale School of Music)
2004
Artist-in-Residence at Yaddo Artist Community
2007
Resident composer for American Opera Projects’ Composers and the Voice
Graduated (PhD) Princeton University
2008
Original score for Prokofiev’s ballet "Romeo and Juliet" (realization by Gregory Spears and Simon Morrison) premiered by Mark Morris Dance Company and the Bard Festival
2009
American Composers Forum Jerome Composers Commissioning Grant
2010
Premiere of "Buttonwood" with the JACK Quartet; Premiere of "Requiem", commissioned by Christopher Williams Dances
Composer-in-Residence at the Buttonwood Psychiatric Unit
2011
Artist residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo
"Requiem" released on New Amsterdam Records
2012
Premiere of "The Bricklayer" by Houston Grand Opera (HGOco)
Artist residency at the MacDowell Colony
2013
World premiere of "Paul’s Case" with Urban Arias, directed by Kevin Newbury; Premiere of a new "Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei" for the Mozart Requiem by Seraphic Fire and the Firebird Chamber Orchestra; Premiere of "Wolf-in-Skins: Part I" with Christopher Williams Dances
Artist-in-Residence at the Aaron Copland House
2014
"Paul’s Case" presented at PROTOTYPE Festival (New York) and Pittsburgh Opera
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library Gilder-Lehrman Fellowship, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
2015
World premiere of "O Columbia" with Houston Grand Opera (HGOco), directed by Kevin Newbury; Premiere of "Virginiana" by New Vintage Baroque and the Damask Ensemble
Awarded 2015 Carlos Surinach Commission from BMI Foundation
2016
World premiere of "Fellow Travelers" with Cincinnati Opera
Rauschenberg Foundation Artist-in-Residence, in collaboration with choreographer Christopher Williams
Products

per page
  1. Paul's Case

    Paul's Case

    Opera in 2 acts
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    librettist: Spears, Gregory
    Edition: performance material
    Language: English
  2. A New Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei for the Mozart Requiem

    A New Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei for the Mozart Requiem

    for mixed chorus (SATB) and soloists, and orchestra
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Instrumentation: mixed chorus (SATB) and soloists, and chamber orchestra
    Edition: performance material
    Language: Latin
  3. O Columbia

    O Columbia

    An opera-oratorio in three parts
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Instrumentation: 2 oboes and strings
    Edition: performance material
    Language: English
  4. A New Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei for the Mozart Requiem

    A New Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei for the Mozart Requiem

    version for period instrument ensemble, mixed chorus (SATB) and soloists, organ, and strings
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Instrumentation: mixted choir (SATB) and soloists, organ, strings, and period instrument ensemble
    Edition: performance material
    Language: Latin
  5. Toccata (Troika) in preparation

    Toccata (Troika)

    for solo piano
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Instrumentation: solo piano
    Edition: score (also performance score)
    Order No.: ED 30285
    €31.95  *

    Out of stock

  6. Toccata (Wild Horses) in preparation

    Toccata (Wild Horses)

    for solo piano
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Instrumentation: solo piano
    Edition: score (also performance score)
    Order No.: ED 30286
    €31.95  *

    Out of stock

  7. Virginiana

    Virginiana

    for solo voices (SMezTB) and early instrument ensemble
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Instrumentation: solo voices (SMezTB) and early instrument ensemble (or modern instruments)
    Edition: performance material
    Language: English
  8. Fellow Travelers

    Fellow Travelers

    Opera in two acts
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Edition: performance material
    Language: English
  9. Jason and the Argonauts

    Jason and the Argonauts

    An opera for young people
    Composer: Spears, Gregory
    Instrumentation: harpsichord, violin, viola, and cello
    Edition: performance material
    Language: English

per page
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