Ep 18-Gregory Spears on Putting Together Commissions and Writing Full Time

Ep 18-Gregory Spears on Putting Together Commissions and Writing Full Time

Gregory Spears writes music for modern and period instruments that blends aspects of romanticism, minimalism, and early music.  His work has been called “astonishingly beautiful” (New York Times), “coolly entrancing” (The New Yorker), and “some of the most beautifully unsettling music to appear in recent memory.” (The Boston Globe) Much of his work involves period instruments and is inspired by baroque and renaissance music. In 2009 Spears won a Jerome Composers Commissioning Award to support the composition of his string quartet Buttonwood for the JACK Quartet. The piece was inspired by his experience as composer-in-residence at the Buttonwood Psychiatric Unit in the winter of 2010.  At the time Spears was teaching a course at the Princeton Writing Program called Music and Madness, which explores the connection between mental illness and creativity. Spears has won prizes from BMI and ASCAP as well as awards and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fulbright Foundation (Fellowship to Denmark 1999-2000), and the Vagn Holmboe Competition. He holds degrees in composition from the Eastman School of Music (BM), Yale School of Music (MM), and Princeton University (PhD), and he has been an artist-in-residence at Yaddo, the Aaron Copland House, and the MacDowell Colony.  Spears was also one of the resident composers for American Opera Projects’ Composers and the Voice 2007-2008 season. He lives in Brooklyn.

In this episode Gregory discusses creativity & mental illness, putting together commissions, and writing full time.


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This episode’s Engraver’s Minute topic is on serif and sans-serif fonts. You can see examples on the ND Music Edition website.