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Jonathan Newman
Bespoke Songs

Jonathan Newman composes music rich with rhythmic drive and intricate sophistication, creating broadly colored musical works that incorporate styles of pop, blues, jazz, folk and funk into otherwise classical models. Trained as a pianist, trombonist and singer, his work is informed by an upbringing performing in orchestras, singing in jazz choirs, playing in marching bands and accompanying himself in talent shows.

From opera to bubblegum pop, Newman delivers a new perspective on American concert music. His most recent work, JRB Variations, is a large-scale concert variations based on a contemporary musical theater song, written for the pianist Blair McMillen. Other recent work includes Pi‘ilani and Ko‘olau, an "imagined ballet" on a scenario by playwright Gary Winter, commissioned by the Florida State University College of Music, and Mass for chorus, vocal trio and chamber orchestra with texts by poet Victoria Chang, which premiered with The Choir of Trinity Wall Street as part of their 2018 Mass Reimaginings commissioning program.

In 2016 he was appointed Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO) Composer-in-Residence; CYSO’s 2011 commission Blow It Up, Start Again has been performed by orchestras worldwide, including the Minnesota Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony, the Brussels Philharmonic, 2015 Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the 2015 BBC Proms. Other recent commissions include Prayers of Steel for Chicago’s Gaudete Brass and These Inflected Tentacles for chamber quartet.

Newman’s ensemble transcriptions include arrangements of Beck, George Harrison, Puccini, Sufjan Stevens, Eric Whitacre, Led Zeppelin, and electronica recorded on Acoustica: Alarm Will Sound Performs Aphex Twin. As a MacDowell Fellow, he began work on an opera based on the 1962 cult horror film Carnival of Souls, also in collaboration with Winter. Newman holds degrees from Boston University’s School for the Arts and The Juilliard School, where he studied with composers John Corigliano and David Del Tredici.

He and his spouse, the conductor Nadège Foofat, reside with their children in Virginia, where he serves as director of composition and coordinator of new music at Shenandoah Conservatory.