Sat 8.14 Night
KEVIN PUTS (b. 1972) COMPOSER/PIANIST
Hailed by the press as “one of the best young composers in America,” Kevin Puts (pronounced as in “she puts it on the table”) has had works commissioned and performed by leading orchestras, ensembles and soloists throughout North America, Europe and the Far East. Known for his distinctive and richly colored musical voice, Puts has received many of today’s most prestigious honors and awards for composition.
In October 2007 the Miró Quartet premiered Credo, commissioned by Chamber Music Monterey Bay, and the Eroica Trio premiered Trio-Sinfonia, commissioned by Music Accord, at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (Illinois). In April 2008 Jeffrey Kahane and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra gave the premiere of a piano concerto commissioned through the LACO’s Sound Investment program. Other recent orchestral performances include Symphony No. 1 by the Houston Symphony, Vespertine Elegy by Marin Alsop and the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, the premiere of Ná Pali Coast for French horn and orchestra by the Mobile Symphony.
As the Composer-in-Residence for the Fort Worth Symphony, Puts wrote a violin concerto for concertmaster Michael Shih, which was given its premiere in April 2007. He was selected as the 2007 American Composer-in-Residence for the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, where his Two Mountain Scenes was premiered by the New York Philharmonic. The summer of 2007 also saw the premiere of Puts’ Symphony No. 4 by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop. In the fall of 2006, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center gave the New York premiere of And Legions Will Rise, and the Atlanta and Baltimore symphonies performed River’s Rush.
Puts’ 2005-2006 season included the premieres of three major orchestral works: Percussion Concerto for Orange County’s Pacific Symphony and the Utah Symphony, premiered by Evelyn Glennie and performed again at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music; Sinfonia Concertante for five solo instruments and orchestra for the Minnesota Orchestra; and a cello concerto, Vision, commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival and performed by Yo-Yo Ma in honor of David Zinman’s 70th birthday. The New York Philharmonic performed Network in November 2005, marking Puts’ debut with that orchestra.
Puts’ other recent orchestral commissions have included River’s Rush for the Saint Louis Symphony and Leonard Slatkin for the opening celebration of the orchestra’s 125th anniversary season in 2004. Commissioned by Kathryn Gould and Meet the Composer through the "Magnum Opus" project, Symphony No. 3, Vespertine was premiered by the Marin Symphony Orchestra in May 2004. The work was subsequently performed by the Santa Rosa Symphony, the New World Symphony, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. The Atlanta Symphony commissioned and premiered this noble company in 2003. Falling Dream was commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra/BMI Foundation for a premiere at the 25th Anniversary Concert of the American Composers Orchestra in 2002 with conductor Dennis Russell Davies at Carnegie Hall. Symphony No. 2, for which Puts was commissioned as winner of the Barlow International Orchestra Competition, was premiered by the Cincinnati Symphony under Paavo Järvi in 2002 and later performed by the Utah Symphony under Keith Lockhart and at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, conducted by Marin Alsop. Millennium Canons, commissioned by the Institute for American Music, was premiered by the Boston Pops and conductor Keith Lockhart in 2001 and has received multiple performances across the U.S.
Recent chamber works by Puts include Four Airs, commissioned and premiered at the Music from Angel Fire Festival in 2004 by Tara Helen O’Connor, flute; Bil Jackson, clarinet; Ida Kavafian, violin; Andres Diaz, cello; and the composer on piano. His Three Nocturnes was commissioned and premiered by the Verdehr Trio, and the group continues to tour with the piece. The University of Texas Wind Ensemble commissioned Puts’ first work for winds, Chorus of Light, and premiered the piece in 2003.
Recent recordings of Puts’ work include the New Dynamics Records release of Einstein on Mercer Street featuring bass-baritone Timothy Jones and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble conducted by Kevin Noe. Inspiring Beethoven, featuring the Bowling Green Philharmonia, has been released by Albany Records. Dark Vigil, commissioned and premiered by the Ying Quartet, is featured on the Quartet’s CD Life Music on the Quartz Music label. Ritual Protocol, Canyon, and And Legions Will Rise, featuring marimbist Makoto Nakura, are available on the Kleos Classics/Helicon label. Future projects include a work for chorus and orchestra for the Houston Symphony, and a large-scale opera based on the film Joyeux Nööel for Minnesota Opera, a chamber opera for eighth blackbird, and a work for Trio Solisti commissioned by Chamber Music Monterey Bay.
Puts’ honors include the 2003 Benjamin H. Danks Award for Excellence in Orchestral Composition of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a 2001 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a 2001-2002 Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, and the 1999 Barlow International Prize for Orchestral Music. As an undergraduate at the Eastman School of Music, Puts was awarded a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the BMI 2001 Carlos Surinach Fund Commission, BMI’s 1998 William Schuman Prize, three student composer awards from BMI, as well as several grants from ASCAP.
From 1996-1999, Puts served as Composer-in-Residence for the California Symphony, which premiered his Symphony No. 1, Exalted Virelai, and Network, which was subsequently performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Yuri Temirkanov and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under Paavo Järvi. Kevin Puts was Young Concert Artists’ Composer-in-Residence from 1996-1998. He wrote two critically-acclaimed compositions for members of the YCA roster: Canyon, premiered by marimbist Makoto Nakura, and Alternating Current, premiered by pianist Jeremy Denk. His Marimba Concerto received its New York premiere in YCA’s 2005 Irene Diamond Concert, with marimbist Naoko Takada and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s conducted by Leonard Slatkin. Puts is an accomplished pianist and frequently performs his own works, as well as other contemporary music and works in the standard repertoire. He is a member of the Composition Faculty at the Peabody Institute.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Puts received his Bachelor’s Degree from the Eastman School of Music, where his principal instructors were Samuel Adler and Joseph Schwantner. He received his Master’s Degree from Yale University, where he studied with Jacob Druckman, Martin Bresnick, and David Lang. He also worked with Bernard Rands and William Bolcom at Tanglewood. Puts earned a Doctor of Musical Arts at the Eastman School of Music, studying composition with Christopher Rouse and piano with Nelita True.