Eric Nathan, composer

Eric Nathan composer

Eric Nathan’s (b. 1983) music has been called “as diverse as it is arresting” with a “constant vein of ingenuity and expressive depth” (San Francisco Chronicle), “thoughtful and inventive” (The New Yorker), and as “a marvel of musical logic” (Boston Classical Review).

Nathan, a 2013 Rome Prize Fellow and 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, has garnered acclaim internationally through performances by Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic’s Scharoun Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Boston Musica Viva,  JACK Quartet, American Brass Quintet, Ensemble Dal Niente, A Far Cry and performers including vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Lucy Shelton, Tony Arnold, Jessica Rivera and William Sharp, violinists Jennifer Koh and Stefan Jackiw, trombonist Joseph Alessi, pianists Gloria Cheng and Gilbert Kalish, and violist Samuel Rhodes. His music has additionally been featured at the New York Philharmonic’s 2014 and 2016 Biennials, Carnegie Hall, Aldeburgh Music Festival, Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, Aspen Music Festival, MATA Festival, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Ravinia Festival Steans Institute, Yellow Barn, Music Academy of the West, 2012 and 2013 World Music Days, and Louvre Museum.

Recent projects include three commissions from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, including a chamber work, “Why Old Places Matter” (2014) for the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, and two orchestral works, “the space of a door” (2016), that Andris Nelsons and the BSO premiered in November 2016 and commercially released on the Naxos label in 2019, and “Concerto for Orchestra” which Nelsons premiered on the 2019-20 season-opening concerts, and repeats at Tanglewood in summer 2020. 

Nathan has received additional commissions from the New York Philharmonic for its CONTACT! series, Tanglewood Music Center, Aspen Music Festival for the American Brass Quintet, Boston Musica Viva, and the New York Virtuoso Singers and the Fromm Music Foundation. Nathan has been honored with awards including a Copland House residency, Civitella Ranieri Music Fellowship, ASCAP’s Rudolf Nissim Prize, four ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, BMI’s William Schuman Prize, Aspen Music Festival’s Jacob Druckman Prize, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and Leonard Bernstein Fellowship from the Tanlgewood Music Center.

In 2015, Albany Records released a debut CD of Nathan’s solo and chamber music, “Multitude, Solitude: Eric Nathan,” produced by Grammy-winning producer Judith Sherman, featuring the Momenta Quartet, trombonist Joseph Alessi, violist Samuel Rhodes, oboist Peggy Pearson, pianist Mei Rui, and trumpeter Hugo Moreno. (Le) Poisson Rouge presented a CD release concert of Nathan's music in October 2015. In 2020, Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project will release a portrait album of Nathan’s orchestral and large ensemble music on the BMOP Sound label.

Nathan served as Composer-in-Residence at the 2013 Chelsea Music Festival (New York) and 2013 Chamber Music Campania (Italy). He received his doctorate from Cornell and holds degrees from Yale (B.A.) and Indiana University (M.M.). Nathan served as Visiting Assistant Professor at Williams College in 2014-15, and is currently David S. Josephson Assistant Professor of Music in Composition-Theory at the Brown University Department of Music.

Eric Nathan's In Between premiered on March 4, 2022 with the Grossman Ensemble. 

Program notes:

In Between (2022) for ensemble was born out of the unique collaborative and explorative workshop experience afforded by composing for the Grossman Ensemble at the University of Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition. With this piece, I explore a newfound personal artistic space in my practice in between areas of improvisation, controlled aleatory, spatialized gestural choreography and detailed music notation. The players invent rustling, feathery sounds, the conductor “paints” gesturally through the ensemble in a music filled with chorale-like singing, meditative stillness and intricately vibrant musical textures woven through it all. The emotional inspiration for the work came from my standing in a forest near my house this fall on a late afternoon. As I stood there amidst the trees — these magisterial, quiet, monumental, and seemingly wise beings — I felt their imposing yet comforting presence, and listened to all the motion and movement that seemed to inhabit the “quiet” that surrounded me. It reminded me of a visit I made to my friend’s property in Vermont a few years prior, on an invitation to come and “meet” the trees that are so dear to him. He told me how at his age he now speaks with them and hoped they might speak to me. This has all been a starting point that unlocked my imagination in surprising ways, creating within and between spaces of stillness and activity and listening and singing. In Between for ensemble was commissioned by the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition for the Grossman Ensemble, and is dedicated to the Grossman Ensemble, conductor Timothy Weiss, and director and founder Augusta Read Thomas, with admiration and gratitude.

Eric Nathan's "In Between"