A.J. McCaffrey is a songwriter and composer of instrumental, vocal and electronic music. His works are theatrical in nature, employing harmonically rich and lyrically striking sound worlds to create moving, dramatic narratives. His enthusiasm for other art forms has led to stimulating collaborations with filmmakers, theater companies, writers and visual artists, including Shakespeare & Company, Northern Light Productions, Ilana Halperin, and E. Tracy Grinnell.
His music has been performed by the American Composers Orchestra, the New Fromm Players, the Radius Ensemble, the Atlantic Chamber Ensemble, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Alarm Will Sound, Boston’s Firebird Ensemble and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. A fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and Aspen Music Festival and School, McCaffrey has been a featured composer on BMOP’s The Next Next series, Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music and the New Gallery Concert Series. His orchestral work Thank You for Waiting was chosen for the American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Readings, and was subsequently awarded the 2013 Underwood Emerging Composers Commission. In addition to his concert music projects, McCaffrey is a songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist with the alt-rock band Planes Intersect. A recipient of a 2014 Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, McCaffrey has received commissions from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Tanglewood Music Center and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
McCaffrey holds degrees in music from the University of Southern California, Rice University, The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He has studied composition with Richard Lavenda, James MacMillan, Donald Crockett and Stephen Hartke. A passionate educator, McCaffrey teaches for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Composer Fellowship Program and the Longy School of Music of Bard College’s Master of Arts in Teaching Music program. A native of the Boston area, McCaffrey currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their two children.
My new piece, Scrabbling Upwards and Slithering Back for the ACO musically explores some games that my son and I play together. Although the piece is a single movement, there are clearly delineated sections with referential descriptions such as “coloring outside the lines”, “scribble scrabble”, “motor-mouth” and “beep breaths”. Each section explores an aspect of playfulness, and the piece as a whole moves through the shifting instrumental colors and moods, from delirium to sleepiness, that one might encounter in a typical day of parenting.