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 “clear, consistently logical no matter how surprising the direction, and emotionally expressive without being simplistic or sentimental” (New York Classical Review).
A 2013 Rome Prize Fellow and 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, Nathan has been commissioned by leading ensembles and institutions including the New York Philharmonic, Tanglewood Music Center, Aspen Music Festival, Boston Musica Viva, and The New York Virtuoso Singers. The Boston Symphony Orchestra commissioned both Nathan’s chamber work, “Why Old Places Matter” (2014) for the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, and his orchestral work, “the space of a door” (2016), that Andris Nelsons and the BSO premiered in November 2016 to critical acclaim. Of the orchestral premiere, one reviewer wrote, “All I know is Saturday's concert ranks up there as one of the most memorable and pleasurable performances I have ever attended […] Nathan’s new work, “The Space of a Door,” more than held its own and stood out as one of the best new classical compositions I have heard in years” (MassLive).
Nathan’s works have also been presented nationally and internationally at the New York Philharmonic’s 2014 and 2016 Biennials, Louvre Museum, the 2012 and 2013 World Music Days, and at the festivals of Aldeburgh, Aspen, Cabrillo, Domaine Forget, MATA, Ravina Steans Institute, Tanglewood and Yellow Barn. Composer portrait concerts of Nathan’s music have been presented by the Berlin Philharmonic’s Scharoun Ensemble Berlin at the American Academy in Rome, by the Hudson Valley Music Club, and at the Tenri Cultural Institute (New York).
Nathan’s music has additionally been performed by orchestras including the National Symphony Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Omaha Symphony Chamber Orchestra, and Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra. Chamber ensembles have performed Nathan’s work, such as International Contemporary Ensemble, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, JACK Quartet, American Brass Quintet and A Far Cry. In addition, Nathan’s music has been performed by sopranos Dawn Upshaw, Lucy Shelton and Tony Arnold, violinist Jennifer Koh, and pianist Gloria Cheng.
Nathan served as Composer-in-Residence at the Chelsea Music Festival (New York) and Chamber Music Campania (Italy). In September 2017, Nathan completed an Artist Residency at Yellow Barn, where soprano Jessica Rivera, baritone Andrew Garland and pianist Molly Morkoski workshopped and recorded Nathan’s new 45-minute dramatic song cycle, “Some Favored Nook,” based on texts by Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, adapted by librettist Mark Campbell.
In 2015, Albany Records released a debut album 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. Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project plan to release a portrait album of Nathan’s orchestral and large ensemble music on the BMOP Sound label.
Nathan has been honored with awards including a Copland House residency, 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 Tanglewood Music Center.
Nathan is also a passionate educator and advocate for contemporary composers. He serves as Assistant Professor of Music in composition and theory at Brown University. At Brown, he co-curates the guest composer lecture series and teaches a variety of subjects from composition to popular music history that engage students with and without backgrounds in music. He has additionally served as Visiting Assistant Professor at Williams College and has taught composition at the New York Philharmonic’s Composer’s Bridge program and at Yellow Barn’s Young Artists Program.
Nathan completed his doctorate studying at Cornell with Steven Stucky, Roberto Sierra and Kevin Ernste, his masters from Indiana University studying with Claude Baker and Sven-David Sandström, his B.A. from Yale College where he studied with Kathryn Alexander and trumpeter Allan Dean, and a diploma from the Pre-College Division of The Juilliard School where he studied composition with Ira Taxin. Nathan additionally was a composition fellow at Tanglewood, Aspen and Aldeburgh where he worked with John Harbison, Augusta Read Thomas, Bernard Rands, Michael Gandolfi, Oliver Knussen, Colin Matthews, Christopher Rouse, and George Tsontakis.
Biography current as of 10/31/2017
ON NATHAN'S MUSIC
"Eric Nathan’s music, upon first encounter, conveys a compelling and infectious energy: virtuosity in the service of defining musical drama and character. [...] there’s often a thrilling hint of vicarious danger: it’s like watching an escape by a hair’s breadth, a daredevil feat. This music requires of its performers both the willingness and the ability to overcome its challenges in order to immerse the listener in its rich, multifaceted world. [...]
"Much has gone into the making of Nathan’s distinctive compositional voice. The tactile experience of performing, which involves the resolution of conflicts between notated and improvised music, between technique and expression, is the most direct source of this music’s vitality. The role of the dedicated performer in amplifying and potentially transforming a composed work factors significantly into his approach; with the demands of the music comes a willingness to trust a player to infuse a score with individuality. [...] Nathan also draws on personal, and cultural, experience, including visual art, for his inspiration. As part of his writing process he has recourse to arrays of photographs to catalyze new ideas—not in the sense of illustration, but as a way of focusing creative energy. The Italian sojourn during his Rome Prize year yielded musical responses to the ruins at Paestum, Rome’s multi-leveled archaeology, and other phenomena. The artistically satisfying weight of Nathan’s work comes from these complementary stimuli realized through compositional craft. It wouldn’t be outlandish, in fact, to suggest that in his well-balanced forms and clear, direct musical gestures, Eric Nathan is ultimately a classicist composer with such composers as Stravinsky and Schumann his ancestors."
- Robert Kirzinger
Composer; Boston Symphony Orchestra Assistant Director of Program Publications, Editorial
Liner notes to "Multitude, Solitude: Eric Nathan" (Albany Records)
Read full liner notes here