Department of Music and the College
Renowned composer Augusta Read Thomas has become the 16th person to hold a University Professorship at the University of Chicago. She is widely considered to be among the world’s most accomplished and original contemporary composers, and has won acclaim for the dramatic, spontaneous quality of her work and her masterful use of instrumental color.
From 1997 to 2006, Thomas was Mead Composer-in-Residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which has commissioned seven major compositions from her. Her recent premieres include Daylight Divine for children’s chorus and orchestra; Murmurs in the Mist of Memory, commissioned by the International Sejong Soloists; Song in Sorrow for orchestra and chorus, commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra; Fugitive Star for string quartet, commissioned by the Caramoor Chamber Music Festival for the Avalon String Quartet; Ring Out Wild Bells to the Wild Sky for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by the Washington Choral Arts Society; and Aurora: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Her many awards include recognition from the Siemens Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her double concerto for flute, violin, and orchestra, Astral Canticle, was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Music. In May 2009, Thomas was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, considered to be the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the United States.
Thomas studied composition with Oliver Knussen at Tanglewood, Jacob Druckman at Yale University, Alan Stout and Bill Karlins at Northwestern University, and at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Thomas joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2011.