“One of the brightest stars in her generation of composers” (Audiophile Audition), Kati Agócs has served on New England Conservatory’s composition faculty since 2008. Her music delivers visceral power and otherworldly lyricism with soulful directness and is performed by leading musicians worldwide. The Boston Globe has called it “music of fluidity and austere beauty…with a visceral intensity of expression” and has encouraged audience members to “go, listen, and be changed.” The New York Times has characterized her chamber music as “striking” and her vocal music as possessing “an almost nineteenth-century naturalness.” Gramophone Magazine has praised the “penetrating individuality” of her vocal/orchestral music, calling it "an iridescent wonder." A recent Guggenheim Fellow, Kati Agócs is also a winner of the prestigious Arts and Letters Award, the lifetime achievement award in music composition from The American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her album The Debrecen Passion on the BMOP/sound label was named one of the Top Ten Classical Recordings of 2016 by The Boston Globe. The title track was nominated for Classical Composition of the Year in the 2017 Juno Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Awards.
As part of a curatorial residency with Metropolis Ensemble, Kati Agócs is currently spearheading a concert series in New York showcasing her chamber works. For her series, A Stone’s Throw, she is commissioning new works by emerging composers for premiere in their loft space at 1 Rivington Street in the Bowery. She is also a Visiting Composer this year at the Aspen Music Festival and School and a Composer in Residence at The Walden School. In 2018 the Aspen Music Festival opened with the world premiere of her second string quartet Imprimatur, commissioned jointly by the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Harvard Musical Association, and the Krannert Center/University of Illinois in celebration of the 15th anniversary of The Jupiter String Quartet. Also in 2018 her Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra, commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, had its world premiere by Nicholas Kitchen and the New England Conservatory Percussion Ensemble with Frank Epstein conducting, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performed the Canadian premieres of Vessel and Devotion with Bramwell Tovey conducting.
Music by Kati Agócs has been commissioned and performed by many premier ensembles and organizations including the Toronto Symphony, Boston Symphony Chamber Players, the Minnesota Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, American Composers Orchestra, New World Symphony, Chicago Composers Orchestra, Ensemble Reconsil Vienna, Lontano, Albany Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Metropolis Ensemble, Da Capo Chamber Players, The Claremont Trio, Hub New Music, Ensemble Contemporain de Montreal, Sioux City Symphony Orchestra for the Iowa Piano Competition, James Sommerville for the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Eighth Blackbird, and numerous others. Awards and honours include the Charles Ives Fellowship and Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an inaugural Brother Thomas Fellowship from The Boston Foundation, fellowships from the Massachusetts Arts Council and New York Foundation for the Arts, the ASCAP Leonard Bernstein Fellowship at the Tanglewood Music Center, a Fulbright Fellowship to the Liszt Academy in Budapest, a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education, awards from the Aaron Copland Fund and the Presser Foundation. And residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Virginia Center. She has served as a Composer-in-Residence with the Bowdoin International Chamber Music Festival, Chelsea Music Festival, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (for their Fiftieth Anniversary season). Born in Canada of Hungarian and American parents, Kati Agócs earned doctoral and master's degrees from the Juilliard School, studying with Milton Babbitt. She is also an alumna of the Tanglewood Music Center, The Aspen Music School, Sarah Lawrence College, and Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (United World Colleges). Her scores are distributed internationally by Theodore Front Musical Literature.
M.M., D.M.A., The Juilliard School. Studies at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, Aspen Music School, Tanglewood, Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (United World Colleges), and Sarah Lawrence College. Composition with Milton Babbitt. Additional studies with George Tsontakis, Zoltán Jeney, Michael Gandolfi, John Harbison, Joan Tower, Christopher Rouse, and James MacMillan. Voice with Adele Addison and Adrienne Csengery.
Photo by Kate Lemmon Photography