10 Contemporary LGBTQ Composers You Should Know
In honor of Pride Month, we are celebrating the excellence of the LGBTQIA community by highlighting some of the very best LGBTQ+ artists creating work today. Today, we are highlighting ten contemporary LGBTQ composers you should know:
Steven Reineke is a composer and arranger, as well as Music Director of The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall and Principal Pops Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra at Kennedy Center. He has numerous wind ensemble compositions including Rise of the Firebird, in addition to his iconic symphonic works Casey at Bat, Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Celebration Fanfare. Reineke has arranged for musical artists of all genres, from Kendrick Lamar to Peter Frampton. In 2017, Reineke became the first conductor featured on All Things Considered on NPR, leading the National Symphonic Orchestra in live performance between news segments.
A local girl born in Fairhaven, MA, Julie Giroux has been composing since childhood; she had her first piece published at the age of nine. Giroux has composed music for orchestras, television, movies, choral ensembles, and even video games, frequently arranging and directing her compositions as well. She was the first woman to win the Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in 1992 for her work on the 64th Annual Academy Awards. She has arranged for the likes of Paula Abdul, Celine Dion, and Michael Jackson. She currently lives in Madison, WI and writes music for military and school bands, and travels the country conducting her new works.
Jennifer Higdon may have had a relatively late start to composing at the age of 21, but she has more than made up for lost time. The winner of two Grammys and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, Higdon is now one of the most performed living composers. In the 2017-18 concert season, she has enjoyed premieres and performances of her works with the Chicago Symphony, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra to name a few. Higdon premiered her first opera, Cold Mountain, in 2016 to wide critical acclaim, and has an upcoming commission for another in her hometown with Opera Philadelphia. She currently holds the Rock Chair in Composition at The Curtis Institute of Music.
Alex Temple is a composer who mixes her love of Western classical tradition and pop culture into electronic music as well as compositions for voice and piano. Temple’s exploratory blending of form has been performed across the country by the American Composers Orchestra, Fifth House Ensemble and Cadillac Moon Ensemble, among others. She also tours and performs her own music, both as a soloist and as the keyboardist for the chamber-rock group The Sissy-Eared Mollycoddles. Temple has also performed using her voice, synthesizers, and household objects as a part of the ensemble a·pe·ri·od·ic. In November, her new monodrama The Three Principles of Noir will premiere at Carnegie Hall. @alextemplemusic
Michael Tilson Thomas
Michael Tilson Thomas, known affectionately in the classical music community as M.T.T., is a conductor, composer, and pianist who currently serves as the Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony. Though he plans to step down from this role in 2020, he will continue in his role as the Founding Artistic Director of New World Symphony, a fellowship-driven ensemble that aims to prepare early career musicians for leadership positions in orchestras all over the world. Thomas has written works that riff on the writings of Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Anne Frank; he composes for orchestras and soloists alike. This summer, M.T.T. will be kept busy with San Francisco Symphony concerts, as well as an international Carnegie Hall Perspectives tour with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. @mtilsonthomas
Chrysanthe Tan keeps busy in Los Angeles, where she jumps between her professions as a singer-songwriter, composer, and violinist. She composes mostly solo and chamber works, often influenced by or incorporating spoken word poetry. Tan’s music has enjoyed performances at Rockefeller Center, the US Embassy in Cambodia, the New Orleans Jazz Festival, and the Museum of Metropolitan Art. As a violinist, Tan has recorded, performed, and toured with a slew of major pop artists, including Ariana Grande, Halsey, and Alicia Keys, as well as played on TV shows like Glee and America’s Next Top Model. She also co-hosts the podcast Underscore, which features multi-genre artists who are pushing beyond the boundaries of classical music. Tan most recently released a cover of “Bundle of Joy” from Inside Out. @ChrysantheTan
Frequently compared to Phillip Glass because of his minimalist style, Conrad Cummings composes operas, as well as works for individual vocal performers and orchestras of all sizes. His work has been performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall to La MaMa to alternative clubs like The Knitting Factory. Cummings’ operas have been praised by The New York Times, The Village Voice, Opera News, and The New Yorker Magazine, often because of their accessibility for a modern audience. He teaches composition at Julliard as a member of the Evening Division. @CCummings_Music
Eve Beglarian is a performer, composer, and producer of Armenian descent living in the U.S. Since 2001, Beglarian has been working on A Book of Days, a series of recordings accompanied by images or video, with the goal of having one piece for each day of the year; she’s at 132 currently. Belgarian is known for her multimedia collaborations with vocalists, instrumentalists, writers, choreographers, and visual artists. A composer of choral, chamber, and orchestral music, she has been commissioned by The Los Angeles Master Chorale, the American Composers Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, among others. In 2015, Beglarian was the recipient of Rauschenberg Prize from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts for her “innovation, risk-taking, and experimentation”. She was also the winner of the 2017 Herb Alpert Award for Music. @evbvd
Mohammed Fairouz produces socially conscious work and has been lauded as “one of the most talented composers of his generation” by BBC World News. Fairouz started composing at the young age of 7, and went on to train and study locally at the New England England Conservatory of Music. He writes operas and orchestral music, as well as smaller-scale pieces for vocalists, soloists, and chamber ensembles. Most recently, Fairouz was commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival and School to write the song cycle Evermore, which explores how Edgar Allen Poe was inspired by the Qur’an. His operas The New Prince and The Dictator’s Wife enjoyed premieres last year, and his latest opera, Bhutto, about the life of Pakistani political figure Benazir Bhutto, is currently in development. @MohammedFairouz
Based in Los Angeles, Andrew Norman is an American composer whose work has been performed internationally. His music is inspired by his fascination with architecture, and is known for being bright and energetic in its form of storytelling. Norman was the composer-in-residence at the Boston Modern Orchestra Project from 2011 to 2013; during this residency, his piece for a string trio, The Companion Guide to Rome, was a runner-up for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Since then, Norman’s work has been commissioned and performed by the likes of the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Norman is also known for speaking out in favor of more equitable representation of gender in the world of classical composing. In 2017, he won the Grawemeyer Award for Music Compositions for his piece Play, as well as Musical America’s Composer of the Year award.
Featured photo: Chrysanthe Tan poses with her violin.