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NATHAN CURRIER

NATHAN CURRIER

Awards

Works

Recordings

Reviews


Winner of the Academy Award, given for lifetime achievement, from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, as well as the Rome Prize and Guggenheim Fellowships, Nathan Currier has frequently been honored for his compositions. He was the winner of the 2008 International Sackler Prize for Music Composition. The recently established award honors one composer each year with a $20,000 commission to compose a new work, followed by the premiere and recording of the work. Currier has frequently been the recipient of other important prizes and awards, such as the Academy Award, given for lifetime achievement, from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Rome Prize, Guggenheim, Fulbright, NEA, NYFA, Fromm, Ives, Barlow, and ASCAP prizes in composition, as well as the Silver Medal, as a pianist, in the International Piano Recording Competition, for a performance of Bach's Goldberg Variations.

This season, his Possum Wakes from Playing Dead for cello and harp, commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic, will be premiered in Berlin. Currier also received a 2008-2009 Fellowship from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, which will culminate in the premiere of his major new work, War Music, an evening length work of music and theater, with a libretto by leading British poet Christopher Logue and Currier, in both Virginia and New York City.

Currier taught for over a decade at Juilliard, serving on the Evening Division and MAP faculties, and is currently teaching at the University of Virginia. He studied at Juilliard and Peabody, was the Leonard Bernstein Fellow in composition at Tanglewood, and also holds a Diplome, with First Prize, from the Royal Conservatory of Belgium. The diversity of his composition teachers – Joseph Schwantner, Frederic Rzweski, David Diamond, Bernard Rands and Steven Albert – reflects the encompassing palette of his music. Renowned critic Tim Page has written that “Currier’s music is often wildly virtuosic,” and that his “engaging, virtuosic and richly inventive” works do not “fit into any of the pre-fabricated categories that have been set aside to describe composers,” concluding that, “ultimately, Currier is an independent, with no seeming allegiance to any creed but the most valuable one of all – that of creating a succinct, personal and well-crafted music.”

Currier is also actively involved with climate science, and since last year has spoken at UNICEF headquarters at the United Nations, Columbia University, New York University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Richmond, among others, as a member of Al Gore’s Climate Project. His scientific involvement with Gaia theory, a direct outgrowth of his musical activity and his many years spent working on the massive oratorio Gaian Variations also continues, and Currier will appear as co-author on an upcoming article, Plate Tectonics and Gaia, with longtime NASA scientist Paul D. Lowman.

Other important musical works include his quintet Thirty Little Pictures of Time Passing, part of the Berlin Philharmonic’s chamber music series, and the evening length environmental oratorio Gaian Variations at Avery Fisher Hall with the Brooklyn Philharmonic. His very first commissioned work, premiered in India, was hailed by the critic as a “piece of genius,” with the prediction that “the world will hear a lot and drink deep of the creative cup of Nathan Currier. ” His one act monodrama A Kafka Cantata was rated the #1 Musical Event of the Year in Pittsburgh by that city’s chief newspaper after its premiere there, and his music has also been broadcast nationally in the U.S. on National Public Radio with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and heard at major musical establishments such as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. His music is recorded on Chandos, Crystal and New World Records, and is published by Theodore Presser Co. He has composed works for groups such as the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra, The New York Festival of Song, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Chelsea Ensemble, the Shanghai Quartet, the Verdehr Trio, the Aurea Ensemble, and the Juilliard Pre-College Chorus and Orchestra, as well as for distinguished soloists such as pianist Leon Fleisher, tenor Paul Sperry and harpist Marie-Pierre Langlamet. Other notable soloists who have performed his music include Emmanuel Pahud, Ransom Wilson, Paul Neubauer, John Aler, Marietta Simpson, Anne Akiko Meyers, and Nancy Allen. Currier has also frequently been given residency awards, such as at the Bellagio Center in Italy and the Camargo Foundation in France, as well as MacDowell, Yaddo, VCCA, Millay, Ucross, and Ragdale.

Currier resides in Virginia, and grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, coming from a musical family.

For more information, please visit www.nathankindcurrier.com

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Awards


1999: Academy Award, American Academy of Arts & Letters

1995: Rome Prize

1993: Guggenheim Fellowship

1993: National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship

1992: New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship

1991: Charles Ives Fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters

1991: Fromm Foundation at Harvard University Commissioning Grant

1990: International Olympia Competition Finalist

1989: Juilliard Orchestral Composition Competition

1988-1989: ASCAP Awards to Young Composers

1987-1988: Fulbright Grant

1987: Barlow International Competition

1987: The Leonard Bernstein Fellowship at Tanglewood

1984: International Piano Recording Competition, Silver Medal


Works

Chamber Ensembles and Instrumental Solos | Orchestra | Vocal and Choral




Chamber Ensembles and Instrumental Solos


A Musical Banquet for Violin, Cello and Piano (1987) -- 26'
Published: #114-40532
Additional Information: Winner, International Barlow Prize

Movements:
A rock song
Aria for cello and piano
Duo for violin and cello
First fughetta
Fourth fughetta
Improvisation
Music box (cradle song for violin and piano)
Ragtime
Second fughetta
Third fughetta

Recordings

Available Separately:

Solo Part (#114-40532C)
Set of parts (#114-40532P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40532S)


A Nursery Sleep for Harp, Flute and Cello
Available From Composer


A Quilt Canzona for Piano, Left hand
Available From Composer


Adagio and Variations for Violin, Clarinet and Piano (1987) -- 33'
Published: #114-40531
Commission Information: Verdehr Trio
Additional Information: Based on "Adagio" (1986)
Recordings
Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40531P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40531S)


Entropic Developments for Violin, Clarinet and Piano
Available From Composer


Étude Chaconne for Piano Solo
Available From Composer


From the Grotto: A Sonata for Mozart's Secret Society for Piano Solo (1995) -- 30'
Published: #110-40757


Hush Cries the Lamb for Violin and Piano (1993) -- 12'
Published: #114-40883
Commission Information: Composed with the support of the Guggenheim Foundation


In a Burning Forest for Violin, Clarinet and Piano
Available From Composer


Overlappings for Flute, Alto Sax, Clarinet, Trombone, Percussion, Piano 4 hands, Violin and Cello
Available From Composer


Piano Sonata in Seven Movements
Available From Composer


Sambuca Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp (1993) -- 15'
Published: #114-40719
Recordings
Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40719P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40719S)


Sarah's Laugh for Guitar Solo (1993) -- 10'
Published: #114-40840
Commission Information: William Matthews


Sonata for Flute and Piano in Two Movements (1995) -- 9'
Published: #114-40841
Commission Information: Composed with the support of the Guggenheim Foundation


String Quartet in Three Movements
Available From Composer


String Trio for Violin, Viola and Cello
Available From Composer


Tanz-Nachtanz for Clarinet and String Quartet
Available From Composer


The Quartet Book for String Quartet
Available From Composer


Thirty Little Pictures of Time Passing for Flute, Harp, Violin, Viola and Cello
Available From Composer


Thirty-Three Piano Pieces for Piano Solo
Available From Composer


Two Pieces for Harp
Available From Composer



Orchestra


Beckmesser's Revenge for Full Orchestra
Available From Composer


Chants and Dances for Orchestra (1989) -- 19'
1(Alto, Picc.)-2(2 E.H.)-2-0; 1-1-0-0; Timp., Perc., Pno., Accn., Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Additional Information: Winner of the 1989 ASCAP Awards, and the 1989 Juilliard Orchestral Composition Prize


E-flat Prelude for Orchestra
Available From Composer


Hildegard's Symphony for Harp and Large Orchestra
Available From Composer


Hymn to Rosa Valado's Dying Earth for String Orchestra (1992) -- min. 6'
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Artist Rosa Valado for an installation/exhibit.


Saltimbanques Four Pieces for Orchestra
Available From Composer


Symphony in Eleven Chapters for Orchestra
Available From Composer


The Last Thoughts of Gregor Samsa for String Orchestra
Available From Composer



Vocal and Choral


A Kafka Cantata for Tenor and Chamber Ensemble
Available From Composer


Commentary Mass for Chorus, String Quartet, Harp, Celeste, Guitar and Glock
Available From Composer


From the Moon's Orchestra for Mezzo-soprano and Piano
Available From Composer


Gaian Variations for Full Chorus, Chamber Choir, SATB Soli and Orchestra
Available From Composer


Looking Out for Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Clarinet, French horn, Cello and Piano
Available From Composer


Nothing Abides for Soprano, Flute, English Horn, Clarinet, Cello, Harp, Piano and Percussion
Available From Composer


The Cicada for Baritone and Orchestra
Available From Composer


Three American Songs for Baritone and Piano
Available From Composer


Recordings


Adagio and Variations for Violin, Clarinet and Piano


Crystal Records CD743: The Making of a Medium, Music Written for the Verdehr Trio, Vol. 3



A Musical Banquet for Violin, Cello and Piano


Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) CD 873: From the Grotto



Sambuca Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp


Chandos Records, Ltd. Chan 9395: Meditations



From the Grotto: A Sonata for Mozart's Secret Society for Piano Solo


Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) CD 873: From the Grotto



Reviews

"Currier does not fit into any of the pre-fabricated categories that have been set aside to describe composers. Despite the intense expressive qualities of his best music, he is not quite a 'neo-Romantic' for there is none of the angst-ridden grandiosity that typifies so much work in that genre. To call him a 'neo-Classicist' would be more accurate but still reductive, for he is willing to take the emotional leaps that are proscribed within the tidy worlds of most composers in this genre. And while Currier's music is often wildly virtuosic it never seems overcrowded with notes, as so much work by the so-called 'maximalists' does... Ultimately, Currier is an independent, with no seeming allegiance to any creed but the most valuable one of all - that of creating a succinct, personal, well-crafted music to the best of his ability…"

-Tim Page


Adagio and Variations for Violin, Clarinet and Piano

"Nathan Currier's Adagio and Variations received its New York Premiere... This is an ambitious work, more than a half-hour long... the composer seemed to be displaying his command which he used very well... one admired the sheer sweep of the music, its grand, late-Romantic grasp, its mixture of pointillism and panorama."

-Tim Page, New York Newsday

"…a great piece of genius. …The atonal range of Currier was amazing. There was the spontaneity of jazz without its tradition of flippancy. There was the tradition of classical music without its pompous, secret airs. The miniatures were sketches in line strokes. Simple, yet firm – evoking a figure with a straight, curve or wave… Walter Verdehr was right when he referred to Currier as a 'genius.' The world will hear a lot and drink deep of the creative cup of Nathan Currier… the Verdehr Trio gave an inkling of what's stirring in America, and Currier is a beacon…"

-Joseph Pinto, Maharashtra Herald (India)


Sambuca Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp

"…the young American composer Nathan Currier benefited from the best performance he could dream of for his Sambuca Sonata, three highly successful pieces, full of compositional discoveries, and a sense of humor that was both very effective and enjoyable."

-Le Figaro

"Currier invokes jazz, blues, and rubato playing, giving a sense of freedom to the three-movement piece. The mood of [movement] II is spatial, disconnected from measures and rhythms. In contrast, [movement] III is fast, quick notes played in syncopated rhythm... well balanced, and pleasing to hear."

-American Record Guide


From the Grotto: A Sonata for Mozart's Secret Society for Piano Solo

"Like all the best composers, Currier mostly sounds like himself. There are obvious influences, but the language is entirely personal, perhaps the very hardest thing to achieve in music… The virtuoso piano work, From the Grotto, that opens the disc pretty much lays it all out for the listener… traces of everything from the over-the top virtuosity that one associates with Sorabji to the pianistic madness of Stravinsky's Three Pieces from Petrushka… are combined into a brilliant work of compositional virtuosity and infinite energy. Perhaps the greatest compliment that one can pay the work is that it sounds very much of a piece, the different elements coming together to form something new and vital with nary a hint of pastiche about them… According to the Tower Records Web site this is the only CD devoted entirely to the music of Nathan Currier. Hopefully there will be many many more. Urgently recommended."

-Fanfare

"Nathan Currier has been winner of the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Charles Ives fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His major piano work, From the Grotto, has a direct impact for the clarity of its structure, the immediate appeal of its musical materials and their development, and its breathtaking virtuosity…"

-Citation: Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1999




Page last updated April 9, 2009