Scott Ordway (b. 1984, Santa Cruz, CA) is an American composer, conductor, and, since 2014, a member of the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. His work is passionately multidisciplinary, fusing music with original text, video, digital soundscape, and experimental theater to explore a diverse array of contemporary themes including natural landscape, protest and revolution, and the lives of cities. In 2017, Ordway was appointed to the faculty of the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University as Assistant Professor of Music Composition & Theory.
Over the past decade, Ordway has composed a series of large-scale works that bring together multiple artistic disciplines and humanistic themes. Many of these explore the intersection of music and literature and, working in English, French, Spanish, and German, he has created adaptations, collages, translations, and original text for music. As an interdisciplinary scholar, he has published on the relationship between text and musical form in The James Joyce Quarterly.
Ordway’s work has been called “exquisite” by The New York Times, “a marvel” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, and “an American response to Sibelius” by The Boston Globe. In recent seasons, he has collaborated with leading orchestras, ensembles, and soloists, including the Buffalo Philharmonic, Oregon Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler (Berlin), Tanglewood New Fromm Players, So Percussion, Fireworks Ensemble, Syzygy New Music (NYC), Juventas New Music Ensemble (Boston), Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble (Oregon), Norbotten NEO (Sweden), Boston Musica Viva, SOLI Chamber Ensemble (San Antonio), and the Momenta, Arneis, and Daedalus String Quartets.
Recent international collaborations include: a staged production of Detroit at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin; a commercial recording for NAXOS Records featuring principal players from the Hong Kong Philharmonic; performances at the Beijing Modern Music Festival and Hong Kong Arts Festival; and an in-progress opera on the Arab Spring, with an original libretto by the Algerian author, scholar, and journalist Meryem Belkaïd.
Ordway has also created a significant body of vocal music, including songs, choral works, and pieces for voice and large ensemble. Highlights include a series of compositions for Boston’s celebrated women’s chamber choir, the Lorelei Ensemble, and his evening-length Festival Mass for soloists, choir, and orchestra. In 2018, soprano Margot Rood will present the premiere of Girl in the Snow, a forty-minute dramatic fairy tale on original texts, in Washington, D.C.
In addition to grants and awards from ASCAP, NewMusicUSA, the American Music Center, and the American Composers Forum, Ordway’s work has been supported by residencies and fellowships at important American and international festivals, including the Aspen Summer Music Festival, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Estate Musicale Chigiana (Siena), June in Buffalo, and the chamber music festivals of Carolina, Portland (Maine), and Newburyport (Massachusetts).
Also active as a conductor, Ordway has held posts with the Syzygy New Music Ensemble (NYC) and Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble (Oregon), and was in-residence from 2008–2009 at the Boston Conservatory as Associate Conductor of the Juventas New Music Ensemble. As an advocate for the music of our time, he has presented more than 50 new works by young and emerging composers in addition to his own three symphonies (2005, 2008, 2013) and two choral-orchestral settings of the mass (2010, 2011). From 2014–16, he served as Executive Director of Philadelphia’s Network for New Music, one of America’s leading organizations for the commissioning and performance of contemporary music.
Ordway has held teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania, as a Benjamin Franklin Doctoral Fellow in Music, and at the University of Oregon, as a Graduate Teaching Fellow in Composition. From 2013–14, he was Visiting Assistant Professor at Bates College. In 2014, Ordway joined the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he teaches harmony, counterpoint, improvisation, and solfège.
He earned his Ph.D. in 2013 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he received the Hilda K. Nitzche and David Halstead Prizes in composition. He also trained at the University of Oregon (M.M.), University of Puget Sound (B.A., Music & English Literature), and in Europe at both the Freie Universität Berlin and Accademia Chigiana (Siena).
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