Nathan Currier is the winner of the 2008 International Sackler Prize for Music Composition. The recently established award honors one composer each year with a $20,000 commission to compose a new work, followed by the premiere and recording of the work. Currier has frequently been the recipient of other important prizes and awards, such as the Academy Award, given for lifetime achievement, from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Rome Prize, Guggenheim, Fulbright, NEA, NYFA, Fromm, Ives, Barlow, and ASCAP prizes in composition, as well as the Silver Medal, as a pianist, in the International Piano Recording Competition, for a performance of Bach's Goldberg Variations.
This season, two of his chamber works will be performed at the Berlin Philharmonic, including the premiere of his Possum Wakes from Playing Dead for cello and harp, commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic. Currier has also won a 2008-2009 Fellowship from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, which will culminate in the premiere of his major new work, War Music, an evening length work of music and theater, with a libretto by leading British poet Christopher Logue and Currier, in both Virginia and New York City.
Currier taught for over a decade at Juilliard, serving on the Evening Division and MAP faculties. He studied at Juilliard and Peabody, was the Leonard Bernstein Fellow in composition at Tanglewood, and also holds a Diplome, with First Prize, from the Royal Conservatory of Belgium. The diversity of his composition teachers – Joseph Schwantner, Frederic Rzweski, David Diamond, Bernard Rands and Steven Albert – reflects the encompassing palette of his music. Renowned critic Tim Page has written that “Currier’s music is often wildly virtuosic,” and that his “engaging, virtuosic and richly inventive” works do not “fit into any of the pre-fabricated categories that have been set aside to describe composers...ultimately, Currier is an independent, with no seeming allegiance to any creed but the most valuable one of all – that of creating a succinct, personal and well-crafted music.”
Currier is also actively involved with climate science, and since last year has spoken at UNICEF headquarters at the United Nations, Columbia University, and New York University, among many others, as a member of Al Gore’s Climate Project. His interest in climate science is an outgrowth of his longtime involvement with Gaia theory, which in turn matured through his musical activity, and the many years spent working on the massive Gaian Variations, an evening length environmental oratorio premiered at Avery Fisher Hall by the Brooklyn Philharmonic in 2004. Currier will appear as co-author on an upcoming article, Plate Tectonics and Gaia, with longtime NASA scientist Paul D. Lowman.
Other important musical works include his quintet Thirty Little Pictures of Time Passing, part of the Berlin Philharmonic’s chamber music series. His very first commissioned work, premiered in India, was hailed by the critic as a “piece of genius,” with the prediction that “the world will hear a lot and drink deep of the creative cup of Nathan Currier.” His one act monodrama A Kafka Cantata was rated the #1 Musical Event of the Year in Pittsburgh by that city’s chief newspaper after its premiere there in 1992, and his music has also been broadcast nationally in the U.S. on National Public Radio with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and heard at major musical establishments such as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. His music is recorded on Chandos, Crystal and New World Records, and is published by Theodore Presser Co. He has composed works for groups such as the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra, The New York Festival of Song, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Chelsea Ensemble, the Shanghai Quartet, the Verdehr Trio, the Aurea Ensemble, and the Juilliard Pre-College Chorus and Orchestra, as well as for distinguished soloists such as pianist Leon Fleisher, tenor Paul Sperry and harpist Marie-Pierre Langlamet. Other notable soloists who have performed his music include Emmanuel Pahud, Ransom Wilson, Paul Neubauer, John Aler, Marietta Simpson, Anne Akiko Meyers, and Nancy Allen. Currier has also frequently been given residency awards, such as at the Bellagio Center in Italy and the Camargo Foundation in France, as well as MacDowell, Yaddo, VCCA, Millay, Ucross, and Ragdale.
Currier grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, coming from a musical family.