Described by The New York Times as “exhilarating and compelling,” the music of Kevin Puts has been 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, Mr. Puts has received many of today’s most prestigious honors and awards for composition.
An early boost to his career came in 1996 when Mr. Puts was named Composer-in-Residence of both Young Concert Artists, Inc. and the California Symphony at the invitation of Barry Jekowsky, the orchestra’s Founder and Music Director. Other important early commissions came from the New York Youth Symphony, which premiered his Concerto for Everyone at Carnegie Hall in 1999, the Vermont Symphony and Ensemble Kobe (Japan), which co-commissioned Marimba Concerto featuring Makoto Nakura, and the National Symphony Orchestra, which commissioned the fanfare Continuo for bass and organ.
Since then, Mr. Puts has created a sizable body of works for orchestra, which includes four symphonies and several concertos. In April 2008, Jeffrey Kahane and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra gave the premiere of Night, a piano concerto commissioned through the LACO’s Sound Investment program. Mr. Puts has since begun performing the work himself, first appearing as soloist during the summer of 2010 with Marin Alsop conducting the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. His Clarinet Concerto, commissioned by Kathryn Gould, was written for Bil Jackson, who premiered the work with the Colorado Symphony under Jeffrey Kahane in 2009. As the Composer-in-Residence for the Fort Worth Symphony, Mr. Puts wrote a violin concerto for concertmaster Michael Shih, which was given its premiere in April 2007 which Miguel Harth-Bodoya conducting. Mr. Puts was selected as the 2007 American Composer-in-Residence for the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, which his Two Mountain Scenes was premiered by the New York Philharmonic. The summer of 2007 also saw the premiere of Mr. Puts’s Symphony No. 4: From Mission San Juan, commissioned by Howard Hansen and performed by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop.
Mr. Puts’s 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; 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. Other orchestral commissions have included River’s Rush for the Saint Louis Symphony and Leonard Slatkin for the opening night 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 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 Mr. 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. Millennium Canons, commissioned by the Institute for American Music, was premiered by The Boston Pops and conducted by Keith Lockhart in 2001 and has received multiple performances across the United States.
Recent chamber music projects have included Credo, commissioned by Chamber Music Monterey Bay for the Miro Quartet, which continues to perform the work widely across the United States and abroad. In 2008, the string sextet Concertante commissioned and premiered Arcana; The Eroica Trio premiered Trio-Sinfonia, a work commissioned by Music Accord in 2007, and continues to perform the work widely; and Four Airs was commissioned by the Music from Angel Fire Festival in 2004. Three Nocturnes was commissioned and premiered by the Verdehr Trio in 2004. The University of Texas Wind Ensemble commissioned Mr. Puts’s first work for winds, Chorus of Light, and premiered the piece with Jerry Junkin conducting in 2003. Summer 2002 saw the premiere of Einstein on Mercer Street, commissioned by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and premiered by bass-baritone Timothy Jones with Kevin Noe conducting.
Mr. Puts’s 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 for the American Academy in Rome and the 1999 Barlow International Prize for Orchestral Music. While an undergraduate at the Eastman School of Music, Puts was awarded a Charles Ives Scholarship form the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the BMI 2001 Carlos Surinach Fund Commission, BMI’s 1998 William Schuman Prize, and several grants from BMI and ASCAP. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Puts received both his Bachelor’s Degree and his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the Eastman School of Music, and his Master’s Degree from Yale University. From 1999 to 2005, he taught composition at The University of Texas at Austin. Since 2006, he has been a member of the Composition Faculty at the Peabody Institute.
Mark Campbell, Librettist
Mark is one of the most in-demand librettists working in opera today. In the past year alone he premiered four new works, including Silent Night for Minnesota Opera (music by Kevin Puts, directed by Eric Simonson), The Inspector for Wolf Trap Opera (music by John Musto, directed by Leon Major) and Rappahannock County for Virginia Opera, Virginia Arts Festival, University of Richmond and the University of Texas (music by Ricky Ian Gordon, directed by Kevin Newbury).
Mark’s first opera was Volpone (Wolf Trap Foundation for the Arts, 2004, music by Musto, directed by Major). That was followed in 2007 by Later the Same Evening, an opera commissioned by the National Gallery of Art and the University of Maryland in conjunction with a retrospective of the work of Edward Hopper (music by Musto, directed by Major). The New York Festival of Song next commissioned Mark to write two one act comic librettos and the result was Bastianello (music by Musto) and Lucrezia (music by William Bolcom), which appeared on a double bill at Weill Recital Hall in 2008. Other operatic works include Three Lost Chords (American Opera Projects and the Zipper Theatre, music by Lance Horne), and A Letter to East 11th Street (American Opera Projects and VOX, music by Martin Hennessy).
Later the Same Evening received its first professional production last summer at Glimmerglass, after student productions at the Manhattan School of Music and the University of Nebraska. Volpone was revived by Wolf Trap in 2007. Rappahannock County was performed at the University of Richmond and the University of Texas after its premiere. The Inspector was heard at Boston Lyric Opera last spring, and Silent Night came to Opera Philadelphia in 2013.
As a lyricist, Mark penned all of the lyrics for Songs from an Unmade Bed, a theatrical song cycle with music by 18 composers, which was produced by New York Theatre Workshop in 2005, directed by David Schweizer and performed by Michael Winther. The show has since gone on to nearly a dozen productions nationwide and a few overseas (most recently in Perth). Other musicals for which he has written lyrics include: And the Curtain Rises, book by Michael Slade and music by Joseph Thalken (Signature Theatre, Washington, DC, directed by Kristin Hanggi); The Audience (The Transport Group, directed by Jack Cummings), Splendora, book by Peter Webb, music by Stephen Hoffman (Bay Street Theatre, American Place Theatre, directed by Jack Hofsiss), Chang & Eng (SOBT), The Paradise Project (The Kitchen, music by Michael Torke), Akin (Music-Theatre Group at LaMama, music by Richard Peaslee), Ring Around the Rosie (music by Peaslee, produced by Music- Theatre Group at the Joyce Theatre) and Light Shall Lift Them (Harvey Theatre, Brooklyn Next Wave Festival).
Mark’s awards include: First recipient of the Kleban Foundation Award for Lyricist, two Richard Rodgers
Awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a New York Foundation for the Arts Playwriting
Fellowship, three Drama Desk Award nominations, a Rockefeller Foundation Award, a Jonathan Larson
Performing Arts Foundation Award, and a Grammy® nomination.
Recordings of his works include the Grammy®-nominated Volpone, (Wolf Trap Recordings), Later the Same Evening (Albany Records), Bastianello/Lucrezia (Bridge Classical) and Songs from an Unmade Bed (Sh-k-Boom Records). Songs from an Unmade Bed is published by Bill Holab Music. Recordings of The Inspector and Rappahannock County are in the works, on the Wolf Trap Recordings and Naxos labels, respectively.