composer & conductor
Composer George Tsontakis has won two of the richest prizes in all of classical music: the international Grawemeyer Award in 2005 for his Second Violin Concerto and the 2007 Charles Ives Living Award, bestowed every three years by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Born in Astoria, New York into a strongly Cretan heritage, George Tsontakis has, in recent years, become an important figure in the music of Greece. His music is performed across the US, and each season the demand for his work increases in the distinguished concert halls of Europe. Recent premieres include his Third Piano Quartet (Opus One Quartet), his Fifth String Quartet (Cypress Quartet), and a piano concerto, Man of Sorrows (Stephen Hough and the Dallas Symphony).
Most of his compositions, including 11 major orchestral works and four concertos, have been recorded by Hyperion and Koch. He earned two Grammy® nominations for Best Classical Composition, one in 2009 and one in 1999. Esteemed composer David Del Tredici describes Tsontakis’ work as music that is “full of heart, a quality that erases boundaries as it satisfies and enriches the soul,” and The Village Voice hails his “heroic, nostalgia-free romanticism.”
A member of the faculty of the Aspen Music School, Tsontakis is also a composer-in-residence at Bard College and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, which commissioned and premiered a new work from him for the re-opening of the famed Alice Tully Hall in February 2009. He spent three years as composer-in-residence with England’s Oxford Philomusica and is continuing a six-year Music Alive residency with the Albany Symphony. He is the recipient of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s 2010 Sound Investment commission.
He studied with Roger Sessions at Juilliard and with Franco Donatoni in Rome, and now makes his home in New York State’s Catskill Mountains in Shokan.