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Augusta Read Thomas

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The music of Augusta Read Thomas (b. 1964 in New York) is nuanced, majestic, elegant, capricious, lyrical, and colorful – “it is boldly considered music that celebrates the sound of the instruments and reaffirms the vitality of orchestral music.” (Philadelphia Inquirer) "This is music that is always in motion, as if coming perpetually out of a magician’s hat. It leads but doesn’t direct, and is playful and subtle, dancing on light feet. It is music that conjures." (Huffington Post)
 
A Grammy winner, her impressive body of works embodies unbridled passion and fierce poetry.  The New Yorker called her "a true virtuoso composer."  Championed by such luminaries as Barenboim, Rostropovich, Boulez, Eschenbach, Salonen, Maazel, Ozawa, and Knussen, she rose early to the top of her profession. 
 
Her discography includes 86 commercially recorded CDs and she has composed over 50 works for orchestra.
 
She won the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize among many other coveted awards.  She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 
 
Thomas was the longest-serving Mead Composer-in-Residence for Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez with the Chicago Symphony from 1997 through 2006, a residency that culminated in the premiere of Astral Canticle – one of two finalists for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Music.  During her residency, Thomas not only premiered nine commissioned orchestral works, but also was central toward establishing the thriving MusicNOW series on which she commissioned and programmed the work of many living composers.
 
Thomas has been commissioned by a consortium of opera companies, led by Santa Fe Opera in association with San Francisco opera, that includes: • Lyric Opera Of Kansas City • Minnesota Opera • Opera Theatre of Saint Louis •San Francisco Opera • Santa Fe Opera • Sarasota Opera • Seattle Opera. Her new opera will receive its world premiere in October 2019 at the Santa Fe Opera. This project is made possible by generous funding from the Melville Hankins Family Foundation and The Andrew Mellon Foundation
In February 2015, music critic Edward Reichel wrote, "Augusta Read Thomas has secured for herself a permanent place in the pantheon of American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. She is without question one of the best and most important composers that this country has today. Her music has substance and depth and a sense of purpose. She has a lot to say and she knows how to say it — and say it in a way that is intelligent yet appealing and sophisticated.”
 
The New York Times article of March 6, 2015 states that Thomas had the distinction of having her work performed more frequently in 2013-2014 than any other living ASCAP composer, according to statistics from performing rights organization.  Former Chairperson of the American Music Center, she serves on many boards, is a generous citizen in the profession at large, and, according to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, “has become one of the most recognizable and widely loved figures in American music.”  In 2016 she was named Chicagoian of the year.
 
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