When Augusta Read Thomas was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, her citation read, “Thomas’ impressive body of works embodies unbridled passion and fierce poetry. Championed by such luminaries as Barenboim, Rostropovich, Boulez, and Knussen, she rose early to the top of her profession.”
Thomas was born in Glen Cove, New York in 1964 and started composing music at a young age. She studied composition with William Karlins and Alan Stout at Northwestern University, Jacob Druckman at Yale University, and Paul Patterson at the Royal Academy of Music.
She has taught at the Eastman School of Music and at Northwestern University, where she served as the endowed chair. She works with the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood, and teaches teenage composers, whose works the New Haven Symphony will premiere this May.
Thomas states that her style avoids conventions and is dependent upon improvisations such as those found in jazz and the music of Luciano Berio. She calls her style “a captured improvisation.”
A full-time composer, Thomas has written pieces fro the Cleveland Chamber Symphony Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Mstislav Rostropovich. Chanticleer’s album Colors of Love, which included several of Thomas’ songs, won a Grammy, and her Astral Canticle for violin and flute was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
The New Haven Symphony will premiere her Radiant Circles for Orchestra this month, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra will premiere White Fire of the Stars: Songs of Eternity in December at Carnegie Hall.
WFIU will feature the music of Thomas throughout the month of March.