“One of the brightest stars in her generation of composers” (Audiophile Audition), Kati Agócs writes music that delivers visceral power and otherworldly lyricism with soulful directness and has served on New England Conservatory’s composition faculty since 2008. Her diverse and growing body of works has often been praised for its elegance and emotion and is performed by leading musicians worldwide. The Boston Globe calls it “music of fluidity and austere beauty…with a visceral intensity of expression.” The New Yorker has praised its “elemental strength and generous lyricism,” while the New York Times has called it “striking…her vocal music has an almost 19th-century naturalness.” 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 and is a double nominee for Classical Composition of the Year in the Juno Awards (aka the Canadian Grammy Awards).
Recent premieres include Transluminescence — Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, commissioned by the Esther Honens International Piano Competition for Nicolas Namoradze, a Horn Concerto for James Sommerville co-commissioned by a consortium of five orchestras in the U.S and Canada, and the cantata Voices of the Immaculate for Lucy Dhegrae and Third Sound Ensemble. As part of its Composer Portraits series, Miller Theatre in New York presented a Kati Agócs portrait concert featuring the world premiere of Voices of the Immaculate, co-commissioned by Miller Theatre at Columbia University, Chamber Music America, New Music USA, and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. In The New York Times, Zachary Woolfe wrote: “For once, singing of complete and utter clarity…a simmering new cantata, conceived with transparency as a first principle…entirely, word for word, lucid…her text demands to be heard, and is.”
Other recent works include Morning Star, a motet commissioned by Boston’s Emmanuel Music in celebration of their Fiftieth Anniversary; Imprimatur (String Quartet #2), commissioned by the Harvard Musical Association, Krannert Center/University of Illinois, and the Aspen Music Festival and School to open the Aspen Music Festival; Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra, commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University for the New England Conservatory Percussion Ensemble directed by Frank Epstein; and The Debrecen Passion, a work for chorus and orchestra with texts by Szilárd Borbély, commissioned by The Jebediah Foundation for Lorelei Ensemble and Boston Modern Orchestra Project. The Boston Globe named her album The Debrecen Passion one of its Top Ten Classical Albums of 2016. Gramophone Magazine praised its “penetrating individuality” calling the title track “an iridescent wonder.”
Her music has been commissioned and performed by many other premier ensembles and organizations including the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Reconsil Vienna, Lontano, Albany Symphony Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Claremont Trio, Hub New Music, Jupiter String Quartet, Continuum, Da Capo Chamber Players, Ensemble Contemporain de Montreal, New Juilliard Ensemble, and the multiple Grammy-award winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird, who toured the U.S. with Immutable Dreams. Residencies include the Charles Ives Music Festival, Chelsea Music Festival, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Oberlin University, National Youth Orchestra of Canada (as Composer-in-Residence for their Fiftieth Anniversary) and a curatorial residency with Metropolis Ensemble in the Bowery on New York’s Lower East Side.
Awards and honours include the Guggenheim Fellowship; the Arts and Letters Award, Charles Ives Fellowship and Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; a recording grant from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music; Composer fellowships from the Massachusetts Arts Council and the New York Foundation for the Arts; The Boston Foundation’s inaugural Brother Thomas Fellowship; 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; residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo; and commissioning grants from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Born in 1975 in Canada of Hungarian and American parents, Kati Agócs earned doctoral and Masters degrees from the Juilliard School, studying with Milton Babbitt, and was a voice student of Adele Addison. She is an alumna of the Aspen Music School, Tanglewood Music Festival, Sarah Lawrence College, and Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (United World Colleges), where she represented the province of Ontario. She maintains a work studio in Flatrock, Newfoundland. Her works are published by Kati Agócs Music and 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