Jonathan Newman

Jonathan Newman composes music rich with rhythmic drive and intricate sophistication, creating broadly colored musical works that incorporate styles of pop, blues, jazz, folk, and funk into otherwise classical models. Trained as a pianist, trombonist, and singer, his work is informed by an upbringing performing in orchestras, singing in jazz choirs, playing in marching bands, and accompanying himself in talent shows. From opera to bubblegum pop, Newman delivers a new perspective on American concert music.

His most recent work, Pi‘ilani and Ko‘olau, is a large-scale “imagined ballet” on a scenario by playwright Gary Winter, commissioned by the Florida State University College of Music. Other recent work includes Mass for chorus, vocal trio, and chamber orchestra with texts by poet Victoria Chang, which premiered with The Choir of Trinity Wall Street as part of their 2018 Mass Reimaginings commissioning program. In 2016 he was appointed Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras Composer-in-Residence; work with CYSO included performances of Metropolitan, Tree, and 3 O’Clock Mix, Chicago’s 2016 Ear Taxi Festival, and the commissions for Meridian and Blow It Up, Start Again—which have subsequently been performed by orchestras worldwide, including the Minnesota Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony, the Brussels Philharmonic, 2015 Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the 2015 BBC Proms.

Other recent commissions include Prayers of Steel for Chicago’s Gaudete Brass (recorded on Cedille Records, 2017) and These Inflected Tentacles for chamber quartet. Newman’s ensemble transcriptions include arrangements of Beck, George Harrison, Puccini, Sufjan Stevens, Eric Whitacre, Led Zeppelin, and electronica premiered at the 2005 Lincoln Center Festival and recorded on Acoustica: Alarm Will Sound Performs Aphex Twin (Cantaloupe Records). As a MacDowell Fellow, he began work on an opera based on the 1962 cult horror film Carnival of Souls, also in collaboration with Gary Winter.

Wind and educational ensembles around the world frequently perform from his large catalog of works, including Blow It Up, Start Again (transcription for winds), Symphony No. 1, My Hands Are a City—a wind ensemble consortium commission based on themes of mid-century American Beat Culture, Sowing Useful Truths, commissioned by the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and Moon by Night, 2003 winner of the NBA/Merrill Jones Composition Award.

Born in 1972, Newman received the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and holds degrees from Boston University’s School for the Arts, where he studied composition with Richard Cornell and Charles Fussell and conducting with Lukas Foss, and The Juilliard School, where he studied with composers John Corigliano and David Del Tredici and conducting with Miguel Harth-Bedoya. At Juilliard, his collaborative works for dance enjoyed multiple performances at The Juilliard Theater, Alice Tully Hall, P.S. 122, and Dance Theater Workshop. His early training includes Boston University Tanglewood Institute and the Aspen Music Festival where he studied with composers George Tsontakis and Bernard Rands. His works have been recorded on Avian, BCM, Brain Music, Cantaloupe, Cedille, Klavier, Mark Custom, Naxos, Potenza, and Summit Records. Newman is a founding member of the composer-consortium BCM International: four stylistically-diverse composers dedicated to enriching the repertoire with exciting works for mediums often mired in static formulas. BCM recorded two albums: BCM Saves the World (Mark Custom Records, 2002) and BCM Men of Industry (BCM Records, 2004). He and his spouse, the conductor Nadège Foofat, reside with their children in Virginia, where he serves as Director of Composition & Coordinator of New Music at Shenandoah Conservatory.