CONRAD CUMMINGS composes opera, symphonic music, chamber music, and music for his ensemble of amplified instruments and voices. His works have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, and numerous clubs and alternative performance spaces. Groups performing his music include Brandywine Baroque, Avian Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Louisville, New Jersey, and Indianapolis Symphonies, and the San Francisco Opera Center.
The Golden Gate ("Intensity more often encountered in Stephen Sondheim's musicals than in the opera house." – Steve Smith, The New York Times) with libretto adapted from Vikram Seth's novel in verse, received a staged workshop at Lincoln Center's Rose Studio in January 2010 and was named one of the best operas of the 21st century by Opera News.
The full-evening version of Positions 1956 with libretto by Michael Korie receives its premiere, commissioned by Urban Arias, in April 2012
His first opera, Eros and Psyche ("I cant think of anybody else whos doing what hes doing right now." — Andrew Porter) was commissioned and premiered by Oberlin Conservatory.
Photo-Op ("The music is hard-hitting in its clarity" — Kyle Gann, Village Voice) received a three-week Off-Broadway run at La MaMa ETC. in a collaboration with Ridge Theater.
Tonkin ("Mr. Cummings samples musical history for techniques and sonorities the way rappers sample pop rhythms" — James R. Oestreich, The New York Times) was commissioned and produced by Opera Delaware with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Opera America, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
"I Wish They All Could Be. . ." for instrumental octet was commissioned by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and premiered at the Cheltenham International Festival of Music (UK). It received further performances at the 92nd Street Y in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Cummings conducted five performances with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players in a collaboration with choreographer Brenda Way, the Oakland Ballet, and painter Wayne Thiebaud.
A revised version (2002) is scheduled for New York premiere this summer, details tba. There is also a solo piano version, recorded by Blair McMillen for Avian Music.
"Denouement" for large orchestra received its premiere with Robert Spano and the New Jersey Symphony; Spano also led the work with the Louisville Orchestra.
"Insertions" and "Positions 1956," both composed for the Cummings Ensemble, were premiered at New Yorks Knitting Factory. Other venues include Performance Space 122, The Club at La MaMa, and the Electronic Music Plus Festival at Oberlin. "Positions 1956" was revived for Avian Orchestras 2009 Valentines Day concerts at New York's (le) Poisson Rouge.
Recent commissions include "Shakespeare in Loves," settings of the sonnets for Brandywine Baroque, "In Memoriam, Marge Laszlo," a tribute to the Roller Derby star for Avian Orchestras All-Sports event, "The Passing Months" for French soprano saxophonist Daniel Gremelle, premiered in Taiwan, and Reunion for P and J for pianist James Baker and clarinetist Paul Green.
Cummings was born in San Francisco and trained at Yale, SUNY Stony Brook, and Columbia where he received a doctorate. Principal teachers include Bulent Arel, Mario Davidovksy, and Jacob Druckman. He did post-doctoral research at IRCAM in Paris under Pierre Boulez before returning to the U.S. to direct the music and media program at Oberlin Conservatory. Since the early 1990s he has worked as a freelance composer, director, and interactive media producer in New York City. Hes particularly proud of the award-winning games for kids he has produced at Hyperspace Cowgirls.
Conrad Cummings serves on the faculty of the Juilliard School where he teaches composition in the Evening Division.
Among his many honors are MacDowell, Djerassi, and Tanglewood Fellowships and grants from the Ditson Fund, the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation, Opera America, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
CRIs Emergency Music label has released four recordings of Cummingss music.