Short bio

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The first composer to win the American Academy in Berlin Prize, Laura Schwendinger is a Professor of Composition at UW Madison. Her music, performed by leading artists of our day, Dawn Upshaw (on tour 1997-2013; TDK/Naxos DVD), Arditti& JACK Quartets, Jennifer Koh, Janine Jansen, Miranda Cuckson, Matt Haimovitz, ICE, Eighth Blackbird, New Juilliard Ensemble, Collage, StonyBrook Premiere, Boston Musica Viva, Aspen Ensemble, Dinosaur Annex, Trinity Choir NOVUS, American Composers Orchestra and Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, and at Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln-Center, Times Center, Symphony Space, BargeMusic, Corcoran Gallery, Institute of Advanced Study-Princeton and Tanglewood, Aspen and Ojai Music Festivals; and at the National Arts Centre Canada, Théâtre Châtelet, Wigmore Hall, and Berlin Philharmonic, and was an American League of Orchestras Composer-in-residence with the Richmond Symphony in 2016. Her honors include a Guggenheim, Koussevitzky (2), Fromm, Radcliffe Institute, Copland House, Harvard Musical Association, Chamber Music America, League of American Orchestras, New Music USA, two American Academy of Arts and Letters awards (a Goddard Leiberson Fellowship for “mid-career composer of exceptional gifts” and Ives scholarship), First-prize ALEA III, MacDowell (9), Yaddo (7), Tyrone Guthrie Center(5), Bogliasco and Rockefeller Bellagio Centers. Premieres include a Miller Theater commission, ACO UnSafe Commission, Sounding Beckett (Off-Broadway, Classic Stage Co.), and a National Opera Center Discovery award for her opera Artemisia, which will be produced in NY and SF in 2019.
 
Her reviews include..“Evok(ing) a sense of serene mystery and infinite beauty”, “evincing an acute sonic imagination and sure command of craft.”, “darkly attractive, artful and moving…” "talent to burn…ballsy, confident music-making in both writing and execution…proves that serious contemporary music does not have to dumb down to be immediately accessible and emotional”,“...her music has at its core her own impressive point of view... … displays an acute ear for engaging melodic contours and evocative settings”, “not a single moment in her works sounds contrived, formulaic, or artificial…intensely and strongly "alive", “This was shrewd composing, the genuine article. Onto the ''season's best'' list it goes.” The NY Times Playlist review of her High Wire Acts, “The works grouped together on this captivating disc… she sketches musical short stories of somnambulant fragility and purpose.”

Laura before the performance of one of her works at Carnegie Hall

Composer talk before concert at Institute for Advanced Study Princeton with Sebastian Currier moderator and members of

New Millenium Ensemble. With Melinda Wagner, Augusta

Thomas and Laura Schwendinger

The Lincoln Trio and Stacy Garrop at the premiere of Arc of Fire, A Koussevitzky commission. On WMFT, Revlevant Tones, Chicago

Longer bio

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The first composer to win the American Academy in Berlin Prize, Laura Elise Schwendinger, Professor of Composition at The University of Wisconsin Madison and Director of the Contemporary Ensemble there was born in Mexico City. Her music has been performed by many leading artists or our day, including Dawn Upshaw (Tour 1997-2013; Voices of Our Time, a TDK/Naxos DVD), the Arditti String Quartet, Jennifer Koh, Janine Jansen, Miranda Cuckson, Matt Haimovitz, Christopher Taylor, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, University of Chicago’s Contempo, the New Juilliard Ensemble, Collage New Music, the StonyBrook Premiere Series, Boston Musica Viva, the Aspen Ensemble, Dinosaur Annex, Lincoln Trio, the Trinity Choir and NOVUS, American Composers Orchestra (at Carnegie Hall) and the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra of Hungary; Conducted by such conductors as Nicole Paiement, George Manahan, Steven Smith and Julian Wachner and at venues including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall- Lincoln Center, Times Center, Symphony Space, BargeMusic, Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Tanglewood, Aspen and Ojai Music Festivals; And internationally at the National Arts Centre Canada, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Wigmore Hall in London, Talis Festival in Saas Fe Switzerland and the Berlin Philharmonic in Germany.
 
A 2016 recipient of a National Opera Center’s Discovery grant for her opera Artemisia, her many other honors include those from the Guggenheim, Koussevitzky (2) and Fromm Foundations, Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, Copland House, Harvard Musical Association, Chamber Music America Commission, A League of American Orchestra/ New Music Alive orchestral residency with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra (sp 2016), the MacDowell (10) and Yaddo (8) colonies, Tyrone Guthrie Center Ireland (5), the Bogliasco Foundation, and Rockefeller’s Bellagio Center, the American Academy of Arts and Letters (a Goddard Leiberson Fellowship given to “mid-career composer of exceptional gifts” and an Ives scholarship) and first-prize of the 1995 ALEA III Competition. Notable premieres include a Miller Theater “Pocket Concerto” commission, an American Composers Orchestra UnSafe Commission SHADINGS, the New Juilliard Ensemble, Sounding Beckett (Off Broadway at the Classic Stage Company) and her High Wire Act, which has been performed by dozens of groups across the country. Her work recorded by the Lincoln Trio, on Cedille’s Notable Women (a "hidden gem" in UK Guardian), received great critical praise. William Zagorski (in Fanfare) wrote of it “it evokes a sense of serene mystery and infinite beauty.” John Van Rhein wrote of Eighth Blackbird’s performance of High Wire Act (Chicago Tribune) “it evinced an acute sonic imagination and sure command of craft.” Of her Song for Andrew Anthony Tommasini wrote (NYT) “The piece is darkly attractive, artful and moving…” and of her Fable, Richard Buell (Boston Globe) wrote in his review “This was shrewd composing, the genuine article. Onto the ''season's best'' list it goes.” Corinna Fonseca-Wollheim wrote of her CD High Wire Acts in the NY Times “The chamber works grouped together on this captivating disc show off Laura Elise Schwendinger’s acute ear for unusual textures. In these works… she sketches musical short stories of somnambulant fragility and purpose.”
 
Three CDs of her music on Centaur and Albany were released recently to great acclaim. From her seven Fanfare reviews for these discs "You know you have talent to burn, when you intend just to major in the flute, but instead (out of the blue) John Adams recommends you also go into composition, just on the strength of a few submitted works.", "This is ballsy, confident music-making in both writing and execution and proves that serious contemporary music does not have to dumb down to be immediately accessible and emotional. Highly recommended.'  (Barnarby Rayfield), “...her music has at its core her own impressive point of view...its material is tightly wound and full of surprising shifts and contrasts—Schwendinger isn’t afraid to stretch her muscles—that allow the violin to bristle and wax rhapsodic (and, occasionally, wistful), responding to the fanciful, emphatic orchestral provocation. In these works, Schwendinger displays an acute ear for engaging melodic contours and evocative settings”(Art Lange), "... an exquisite slow section in the middle of the movement before it ends, emphatically, with gu illotine-like chopped chords in the orchestra, that force the work towards its conclusion.”…“not a single moment in her works sounds contrived, formulaic, or artificial. It is all very intensely and strongly "alive" (Lynn Rene Bailey). Her most recent CD Quartets features the JACK Quartet in four works for strings, including Creature Quartet, her work about the extinction of species. Colin Clarke wrote “The sheer intensity of both music and performance thereof is spellbinding, as if the passion of the composer for her subject shines through like a light”

Laura and Mike Goldberg, WCVE NPR radio Richmond Virginia

Medium length bio

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The first composer to win the American Academy in Berlin Prize, Laura Elise Schwendinger, is a Professor at UW Madison. Her music has been performed by leading artists or our day including Dawn Upshaw (Tour 1997-2013; Voices of Our Time, TDK/Naxos DVD), the Arditti and JACK Quartets, Jennifer Koh, Janine Jansen, Matt Haimovitz, Miranda Cuckson, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, New Juilliard Ensemble, Collage, StonyBrook Premiere Series, Boston Musica Viva, Aspen Ensemble, Dinosaur Annex, Lincoln Trio, Trinity Choir-Novus and American Composers Orchestra (Carnegie Hall 2012) and the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra of Hungary; At venues including, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Times Center, Symphony Space, BargeMusic, Wigmore Hall, Corcoran Gallery, Carnegie Hall, the Tanglewood, Aspen, Bennington and Ojai Music Festivals, and internationally at such venues as Berlin Philharmonic, Theatre Chatalet in Paris, and the National Arts Centre CA. Her honors include those from the Guggenheim, Koussevitzky and Fromm Foundations, Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies at Harvard University, Copland House, Harvard Musical Association, Chamber Music America Commission, MacDowell and Yaddo colonies, and Rockefeller’s Bellagio Center, two American Academy of Arts and Letters awards (a Goddard Leiberson Fellowship for “mid-career composer of exceptional gifts” and Ives scholarship), first-prize of the 1995 ALEA III Competition, and ia League of American Orchestras New Music Alive residency with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra (Sp 2016). Other notable premieres include a Miller Theater commission, an American Composers Orchestra Commission SHADINGS, the New Juilliard Ensemble, Sounding Beckett (Off Broadway at the Classic Stage Company), Creature Quartet by JACK Quartet at the prestigious Wisconsin Union Theater, and her High Wire Act, which has been performed by dozens of groups across the country. William Zagorski (in Fanfare) wrote of her C’e La Luna Questa Sera? on the Lincoln Trio’s Cedille CD, Notable Women, “it evokes a sense of serene mystery and infinite beauty.” John Van Rhein wrote of Eighth Blackbird’s performance of High Wire Act (Chicago Tribune) “it evinced an acute sonic imagination and sure command of craft.” Of her Song for Andrew, Anthony Tommasini wrote (NYT) “The piece is darkly attractive, artful and moving…” and of her Fable, Richard Buell (Boston Globe) wrote in his review “This was shrewd composing, the genuine article. Onto the ''season's best'' list it goes.” In her NY Times CD Playlist review, Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim wrote “The chamber works grouped together on this captivating disc show off Laura Elise Schwendinger’s acute ear for unusual textures. In these works… she sketches musical short stories of somnambulant fragility and purpose.” Three CDs of her music on Centaur and Albany featuring Christina Jennings, Matt Haimovitz, the Chicago Chamber Musicians, and the JACK Quartet were released to great acclaim. An upcoming CD featuring her piano works performed by pianist Christopher Taylor, will be released in 2019.

@ 2016 Laura Elise Schwendinger

Laura Schwendinger

Composer

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