OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKnown for his dramatic and unique style and as a gifted orchestral colorist, Joseph Schwantner is one of the most prominent American composers today. He received his musical and academic training at the Chicago Conservatory and Northwestern University and has served on the faculties of the Juilliard School, Eastman School of Music, and the Yale School of Music.

Schwantner’s compositional career has been marked by many awards, grants, and fellowships, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for his orchestral composition, Aftertones of Infinity, and several Grammy nominations. Among his many commissions is his Percussion Concerto, which was commissioned for the 150th anniversary season of the New York Philharmonic and is one of the most performed concert works of the past two decades.  Schwantner is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He says: “I was immediately drawn to the quartet’s poignant, intimate and expressive sound world, the evocative and hauntingly beautiful voice of contralto, Karen Clark and the poetry of Henry David Thoreau whose words so thoroughly capture the transcendental spirit of 19th-century New England life. Living and working in the high hills of rural New Hampshire, provided a synergy of poetry and music that formed an ideal union to help frame the mood, character and direction of this work.”