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Jonathan Bailey Holland
Tracing Lines

Originally from Flint, Michigan, composer Jonathan Bailey Holland (b. 1974) began studying composition while a student at the Interlochen Arts Academy, where he received a school-wide award for his very first composition. Upon graduation from Interlochen, he continued his composition studies with Ned Rorem at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he earned a Bachelor of Music. He went on to receive a Ph.D. in Music from Harvard University in 2000, where his primary teachers were Bernard Rands and Mario Davidovsky. He has also studied with Andrew Imbrie, Yehudi Wyner, Robert Saxton, and Robert Sirota. He has recently been named the Jack G. Buncher Head of the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University, beginning August 1, 2022. Since 2016 he has served as chair of composition, contemporary music and core studies at Boston Conservatory at Berklee. He is also a founding faculty member in the low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Music Composition program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he also served as faculty chair from 2016 until 2019.

Holland’s works have been performed and commissioned by numerous organizations, both nationally and internationally. Highlights include five works commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, including Ode which was premiered during the 2018/19 season when Holland served as composer-in-residence; Stories from Home, commissioned to celebrate the reopening of Music Hall in 2018, and Halcyon Sun, commissioned to celebrate the opening of the Freedom Center National Underground Railroad Museum; El Jaleo, commissioned by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and premiered by the Phoenix chamber orchestra; Primary Movements, a ballet commissioned by the Dallas Symphony and the Dallas Black Dance Theater; Motor City Dance Mix, commissioned by the Detroit Symphony in celebration of the opening of the Max M. Fischer Music Center; Signals, commissioned by the National Symphony in honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; House of Dreams, commissioned by the Enterprise Foundation for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in memory of the Foundation’s founder James Rouse, and more.

Performance highlights include Sonata Variation, a newly interpreted first movement for Samuel Barber’s 1928 violin sonata, loosely based on Barber’s original sketches, which was commissioned by the Curtis Institute of Music and the Samuel Barber Society for the 100th anniversary of Barber’s birth; the premiere of Shards of Serenity, commissioned by the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Chicago Architectural Foundation in celebration of the iconic architecture of Chicago; the premiere of The Clarity of Cold Air, commissioned and premiered by the Radius Ensemble, with numerous performances by Eighth Blackbird; and His House is Not of this Land, commissioned and premiered by the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, based on visual artist Cornelia Parker’s DeYoung Museum installation Anti-Mass.

These works and others have also been performed by the Atlanta, Baltimore, BBC, Charlotte, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, New World, Philadelphia, Richmond and San Antonio Symphony Orchestras, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Florida Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra, Alea III, Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, Hotel Elefant, Tribeca New Music Festival, the Neave Trio, soloists Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Sarah Bob, Demarre McGill, and others. 

He served as 2019 Classical Roots Composer-in-Residence with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which included serving as mentor composer for the American Composer’s Orchestra’s EARSHOT Readings with the Detroit Symphony. He has also served as composer-in-residence with Boston’s Radius Ensemble, the Jacksonville-based Ritz Chamber Players, and with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, through the Music Alive program, sponsored by Meet the Composer and the American Symphony Orchestra League (currently the League of American Orchestras). He has previously held residencies with the Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota (currently VocalEssence) as part of their  WITNESS program, and with the Detroit Symphony, through the Unisys African American Composer Residency and National Symposium program.

He has received awards and honors from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Boston Foundation, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, American Academy of Arts & Letters, American Music Center, ASCAP, the Presser Foundation, and others. He was a two-time winner of the Indianapolis Symphony’s Marian K. Glick Young Composer’s Showcase, which led to performances of his compositions Martha’s Waltz and Summer Frenzy. His composition Visit to St. Elizabeth was awarded first prize in the treble division of the 2003 Roger Wagner Contemporary Choral Composition Competition and is published by Gentry Publications.

His music has been recorded by Cincinnati Symphony, the University of Texas Trombone Choir trumpeter Jack Sutte; and flutist Christopher Chaffee, pianist Sarah Bob, and more. Most recently his work Rebounds was featured on Transient Canvas’s release Right now, in a second.

A strong advocate for music education, Holland has written several works for educational concerts, and has given lectures and presentations at over fifty schools and other public institutions. In 1995, his composition It’s About Time was commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, in consortium with the Cleveland Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, specifically for their youth concerts. Additionally, Holland has written educational works for the Baltimore Symphony and WAMSO, the Volunteer Association of the Minnesota Orchestra. 

Upcoming projects include the premiere of a new work commissioned for Roomful of Teeth, A Far Cry, and pianist Awadagin Pratt; the premiere of Holland’s fourth string quartet, commissioned with support from a Live Arts Boston grant from the Boston Foundation, to be premiered by Boston’s New Gallery Concert Series; a consortium commission for a new concerto for two percussionists and orchestra, featuring the arx duo; and The Bridge (working title), a new opera commissioned by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project that explore the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the period between his seminary studies at Boston University and his rise to national prominence.