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AUGUSTA READ THOMAS (born in 1964 in New York) is a professor of composition at Northwestern University, and is currently composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. At the age of 33, she received tenure from the Eastman School after just three years of teaching. Her work is published by G. Schirmer Inc. She studied at Northwestern University (with Alan Stout and Bill Karlins), Yale University (with Jacob Druckman), and at the Royal Academy of Music. Seven years after graduating from the Royal Academy of Music, Thomas was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM, honorary degree). In 1998, she received the Distinguished Alumni Association Award from St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. In 1999, she received the Award of Merit from the President of Northwestern University.
Conductors who have presented Thomas’ work include Daniel Barenboim, Mstislav Rostropovich, Pierre Boulez, Seiji Ozawa, Hans Vonk, Gerard Schwarz, Dennis Russell Davies, Donald Hunsberger, Hugh Wolff, Cliff Colnot, Norman Scribner, John Nelson, Apo Shu, Jahja Ling, Keith Lockhart, Lawrence Leighton Smith, George Manahan, Jac Van Steen, Gianpiero Taverna, David Gilbert, Bradley Lubman, and Grant Llewellyn.
Augusta Read Thomas’ chamber opera Ligeia (librettist: Leslie Dunton-Downer, based on a short story by Poe) won the prestigious International Orpheus Prize and was performed in Spoleto, Italy, with Luca Ronconi directing. Ligeia, commissioned by Mstislav Rostropovich and Rencontres Musicales d’Evian, was premiered by Maestro Rostropovich in the 1994 Evian Festival. The American premiere took place at the Aspen Music in July 1995. Leslie Dunton-Downer and Augusta Read Thomas are continuing their work on a new opera entitled Dreams in the Cave of Eros.
Thomas lives between Rochester, New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Aspen, Colorado; and Becket, Massachusetts.