Gregory Spears

GREGORY SPEARS writes instrumental and vocal music that blends together stylistic aspects of romanticism, minimalism, and early music. His work has been called “astonishingly beautiful” (New York Times), “coolly entrancing” (The New Yorker), and “some of the most beautifully unsettling music to appear in recent memory” (The Boston Globe).

Spears' first opera, Paul’s Case, recently described as a “masterpiece” and a “gem” (New York Observer) with “ravishing music” (New York Times), was developed by American Opera Projects Composers and the Voice Program. It was premiered last season by Urban Arias in Arlington, VA and was performed again in 2014 at New York's Prototype Festival. It will be presented in a new production at Pittsburgh Opera featuring their resident artists in February 2014. His music has also been performed by Houston Grand Opera (HGOco), the American Composers Orchestra, American Opera Projects, Center City Opera Theater, Opera Index, the NOW Ensemble (MATA), Present Music Ensemble, So Percussion, the Sebastian Chamber Players, the Eighth Blackbird Ensemble, and members of the Los Angeles Opera Domingo-Thornton Young Artists Program. 

In 1999 he was awarded a First Music Commission to write a piece for the New York Youth Symphony, which was given its premiere at Carnegie Hall. Spears has also collaborated with musicologist Simon Morrison 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. Spears was commissioned by poet Tracy K. Smith to write two new songs for the 2011 Rolex Arts Weekend at the New York Public Library and by the JACK Quartet to write a piece based on his experience as composer-in-residence at the Buttonwood Psychiatric Unit in New Jersey. Other commissions have come from OPERA America, the Present Music Ensemble, countertenor Ryland Angel, choreographer Christopher Williams and Houston Grand Opera (HGOco). New Amsterdam Records released his early music-inspired chamber Requiem to critical acclaim in 2011. 

Recent projects include a dance-opera, Wolf-in-Skins, with choreographer Christopher Williams, and a new completion of the Mozart Requiem, which was premiered by the Miami-based Seraphic Fire vocal ensemble and the Firebird Chamber Orchestra in 2013. Spears is currently working on a new evening-length opera Fellow Travelers in collaboration with librettist Greg Pierce and director Kevin Newbury, which was workshopped in the fall of 2013 by Cincinnati Opera/Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. 

Spears has won multiple prizes from BMI and ASCAP as well as grants and honors from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Composers Forum, the Fulbright Foundation, 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 has been an artist-in-residence at Yaddo, the Aaron Copland House, and the MacDowell Colony. Selected chamber works are published by Project Schott NY (PSNY). He lives in Brooklyn.