“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 has called it “music of fluidity and austere beauty…with a visceral intensity of expression.” The New York Times has characterized it as “striking…her vocal music has an almost nineteenth-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. She was nominated for a Juno Award - the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Awards – for The Debrecen Passion, the title track on her vocal/orchestral album with Boston Modern Orchestra Project, on which she also performed as a soprano soloist. The Boston Globe named the album one of the Top Ten Classical Recordings of 2016. Gramophone Magazine praised the “penetrating individuality” of the music on the album, calling the title track "an iridescent wonder."
Current projects include a Piano Concerto for Nicolas Namoradze commissioned by the Honens International Piano Competition; a new work for mezzo-soprano Lucy Dhegrae and Third Sound Ensemble co-commissioned by Chamber Music America, New Music USA, and other co-commissioners; a Horn Concerto for James Sommerville co-commissioned by a consortium of five orchestras in the U.S and Canada; and a choral piece in celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Boston’s Emmanuel Music. Among her most recent works, Imprimatur (String Quartet #2) opened the Aspen Music Festival in 2018 as a joint commission from the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Harvard Musical Association, and the Krannert Center/University of Illinois for the Jupiter String Quartet. Her piano trio Queen of Hearts was commissioned by Chamber Music Northwest for the Claremont Trio, and her Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra, commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, was premiered by Nicholas Kitchen and the New England Conservatory Percussion Ensemble, conducted by Frank Epstein. Kati Agócs currently has a curatorial residency with Metropolis Ensemble at 1 Rivington Street in the Bowery on New York’s Lower East Side. Her concert series “A Stone’s Throw” showcases her recent chamber music together with new works by emerging composers, including a number of commissions that she has organized. A portrait concert of works by Kati Agócs was recently presented in Boston’s Jordan Hall by Hub New Music and guest artists. The Boston Musical Intelligencer cited “stunningly varied works that clearly emerge from a single personality…a distinct voice that is challenging without being elusive…an unshakable emotional core.” Another portrait concert is planned for next season in New York at a venue to be announced. Kati Agócs was a guest composer at Oberlin University in Spring 2020, and will serve as Composer-In-Residence for the Charles Ives Music Festival for Summer 2021.
Music by Kati Agócs has been commissioned and performed by many premier ensembles and organizations including the Toronto Symphony, Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Minnesota Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, American Composers Orchestra, New World Symphony, Chicago Composers Orchestra, Ensemble Reconsil Vienna, Lontano (U.K.), Albany Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Metropolis Ensemble, Da Capo Chamber Players, 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, and Eighth Blackbird who toured the U.S. with her Immutable Dreams. 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, and awards from the Aaron Copland Fund and the Presser Foundation. Residencies include 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, and 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