Scott Ordway (1984, California) is an American composer, conductor, and Assistant Professor of Composition at Rutgers University, as well as a 2017–19 Fellow at American Opera Projects in New York City. Previously, he was a member of the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Ordway’s work is passionately multidisciplinary, fusing music with original text, video, digital soundscape, and experimental theater to explore a diverse array of contemporary themes including landscape and ecology, protest and revolution, and the lives of cities.
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.
Ordway’s music 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. His current projects include: the evening-length Nineteen Movements for Unaccompanied Cello, commissioned by the Tarisio Trust for Arlen Hlusko; a new orchestral work commissioned by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra; a new string quartet for the internationally-acclaimed Dover Quartet; a program-length site-specific work on the subject of cities and urban life in the ancient Middle East commissioned by the Penn Museum of Archeology & Anthropology (Philadelphia, USA); and a program-length dramatic work on the subject of political and natural borders for the SOLI Chamber Ensemble (San Antonio, TX).
In recent seasons, he has collaborated with orchestras, ensembles, and soloists throughout the United States and internationally, including the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood New Fromm Players (Boston), Norbotten NEO (Sweden), So Percussion (NYC), Boston Musica Viva, SOLI Chamber Ensemble (Texas), and the Momenta, Arneis, and Daedalus String Quartets. His work has been featured at Harvard and Yale Universities, as well as at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where he was visiting faculty in Composition in 2018. In 2017, he was a guest conductor with Now Hear This, the Peabody Contemporary Music Ensemble.
Recent international collaborations include: a staged production of his work 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; a multicultural choral work based on research in Mexico City; 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 2019, Canadian mezzo-soprano Julia Dawson of Opernstudio Frankfurt will present the premiere of Girl in the Snow, a forty-minute dramatic fairy tale on original texts, at the Musem für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt.
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, Five Boroughs Music Festival (NYC); Estate Musicale Chigiana (Siena, Italy), June in Buffalo (Buffalo, USA), 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).
Prior to his tenure-track appointment at Rutgers University, Ordway 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. And from 2014–17, he was a member of the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Ordway 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). His primary composition teachers included Samuel Adler, Azio Corghi, Robert Hutchinson, Robert Kyr, James Primosch, Jay Reise, Veljo Tormis, and Anna Weesner. He studied conducting with David Hayes and Hirvo Surva.