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Kati Agócs

Composer Kati Agócs was born 1975 in Windsor, Canada, of Hungarian and American background, and has been on the composition faculty of the New England Conservatory in Boston since 2008. Bridging the gap between lapidary rigor and sensuous lyricism, her music is performed by leading musicians and ensembles across the globe. A 2008 citation from the American Academy of Arts and Letters praised the "soulful directness" of her music, its "naturalness of dissonance," and its "melody, drama, and clear design." The Boston Globe recently described it as "moving and taut" and "music of fluidity and austere beauty," while The New York Times has characterized it as "striking," and “filled with attractive ideas,” and has described her vocal music as possessing "an almost 19th-century naturalness." Fanfare magazine portrayed her violin-piano duet Supernatural Love as "serene and unworldly, exploring space with sound in a way that seems to evoke the time before the universe hosted life."

Recent commissions include Shenanigan, a lively concert opener commissioned by the Hamilton (Ontario) Philharmonic; Vessel, premiered by the New York-based Metropolis Ensemble on a half program of Kati Agócs works at Symphony Space in Manhattan as part of Meet the Composer’s 2011 Three-City Dash Festival, together with an online virtual residency (; and Northern Lights, a suite for solo harp that incorporates folk songs from three different regions of Canada.

Orchestral and large-ensemble music has been her focus in recent years. Among additional larger recent works are her Requiem Fragments, commissioned and premiered by the CBC Radio Orchestra in 2008; Elysium, for amplified cello, ensemble, and tape, written for Cultural Olympiad of the Vancouver Winter Olympics and premiered in Vancouver in 2010; …like treasure hidden in a field, commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra; By the Streams of Babylon, commissioned by the Albany Symphony (Albany, New York), and Perpetual Summer, commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, of which Agócs was composer-in-residence. Perpetual Summer, premiered in July 2010 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, addresses the issue of global warming and was awarded special distinction in ASCAP’s 2011 Rudolph Nissim Competition, one of three works selected by a jury of conductors out of over 260 anonymously-submitted new orchestral scores.

Her solo and chamber works are frequently performed as well; among others, harpist Bridget Kibbey has incorporated Agócs’s Every Lover Is a Warrior into her regular recital repertoire, and her violin and piano work Supernatural Love has toured the world. The Grammy-winning new music group eighth blackbird toured the U.S. with Immutable Dreams, which was written originally for the Da Capo Chamber Players and has been taken up by at least eight other ensembles since its New York premiere in 2007. Recent chamber commissions include works for the flute ensemble Alize (Montreal), Duo Concertante, Orchestra of St. Luke's (Chamber Ensemble), PRISM Saxophone Quartet, saxophonist Timothy McAllister, pianist Fredrik Ullén, New York City Ballet's Choreographic Institute, and The Juilliard School (for its annual Irene Diamond Concert). Time Out New York featured the premiere recording of Every Lover is a Warrior - - part of harpist Bridget Kibbey's debut CD Love is Come Again - -as one of its Top Ten Recordings of 2007, calling Agócs an "innovative" and "promising" composer, and describing her music as "powerful".

Awards include a 2008 Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an Inaugural Brother Thomas Fellowship from the Boston Foundation, a residency to sing her work with orchestra from Meet the Composer and the American Symphony Orchestra League’s 'Music Alive: New Partnerships'; the 2007 ASCAP Leonard Bernstein Fellowship at the Tanglewood Music Center, multiple grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, a Fulbright Fellowship to the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education, a composition fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Jerome Foundation commission, the Presser Foundation Award, and honors from ASCAP in their Morton Gould Young Composer Awards. Fellowships and residencies include the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Dartington International Music Festival (Dartington, U.K.), the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (Yale Summer School of Music), the Aspen Music Festival, the Virginia Arts Festival, Yaddo, and MacDowell colonies.

Kati Agócs earned Doctoral and Masters degrees from The Juilliard School, where her principal teacher was Milton Babbitt. She maintains a permanent work studio in the village of Flatrock, near St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Sept. 2011

Visit Kati Agocs' website.

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Canadian Music Centre