Born in Brooklyn, New York, Alvin Singleton attended New York University and Yale. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied with Goffredo Petrassi at the Accademia Nationale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. After working for more than a decade in Europe, Singleton returned to the United States to become Composer-in-Residence with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (1985-88). He subsequently served as Resident Composer at Spelman College in Atlanta (1988-91), as UNISYS Composer-in-Residence with the Detroit Symphony
Orchestra(1996-97), and was the 2002-03 Composer-in-Residence with the Ritz Chamber Players of Jacksonville, Florida. In addition, he served as Visiting Professor of Composition at the Yale University School of Music.
He has been awarded a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship, the Kranischsteiner Musikpreis by the City of Darmstadt, Germany, twice the Musikprotokoll Kompositionpreis by the Austrian Radio, the Mayor’s Fellowship in the Arts Award by the City of Atlanta, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Singleton has composed music for the theater, orchestra, solo instruments, and a variety of chamber ensembles. His compositions have been performed by the symphony orchestras of Boston, Pittsburgh, Houston, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Detroit, Oregon, Baltimore, Syracuse, Louisville, and Florida, the American Composers Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, l’Orchestre de Paris, das Guerzenich-Orchester Koelner Philharmoniker and also the Kronos Quartet, St Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Nash Ensemble of London, Asko Ensemble of Amsterdam, Ensemble des 20. Jahrhunderts of Vienna, London Sinfonietta, Trio Basso of Cologne and the Bremer Tanztheater.
Important international festivals have also programmed Singleton’s music. They include Chamber Music Northwest, Tanglewood, Aspen, Bravo! Colorado, Music from Angel Fire in New Mexico, Cincinnati May Festival, Cabrillo Music Festival, Bang On A Can, National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, Other Minds in San Francisco, Festival Miami, Vienna Summer Festival, Pro Musica Nova in Bremen, Styrian Autumn Festival in Graz, Brussels ISCM World Music Days, Nuova Consonanza, Rome, and IRCAM in Paris. His Music is published by European American Music Corporation and Musica Mista and is recorded on the Albany Records, Elektra/Nonesuch, and Tzadik labels.
As a composer, Anthony Davis is best known for his operas. X, The Life and Times of Malcom X, which played to sold-out houses at its premiere at the New York City Opera in 1986. The recording of X was released on the Gramavision label in August 1992 and received a Grammy Nomination for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition” in February 1993. “[X] has brought new life to America’s conservative operatic scene,” enthused Andrew Porter in The New Yorker. Davis’s second opera, Under the Double Moon, a science fiction opera with an original libretto by Deborah Atherton, premiered at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in June 1989. His third opera, Tania, with a libretto by Michael-John LaChiusa and based on the abduction of Patricia Hearst, premiered at the American Music Theater Festival in June 1992. In April 1993, Davis made his Broadway debut, composing the music for Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America: Millennium Approaches. A fourth opera, Amistad, about a shipboard uprising by slaves and their subsequent trial, premiered at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in November 1997.
Reacting to two of Davis’s orchestral works, Maps (Violin Concerto) and Notes from the Underground, Michael Walsh said in Time Magazine: “Imagine Ellington’s lush, massed sonorities propelled by Bartók’s vigorous whiplash rhythms and overlaid with the seductive percussive haze of the Balinese gamelan orchestra, and you will have an idea of what both the Concerto and Notes from the Underground sound like.”
Davis’s works also include the Violin Sonata, commissioned by Carnegie Hall for its Centennial; Jacob’s Ladder, a tribute to Davis’s mentor Jacob Druckman commissioned by the Kansas City Symphony; Esu Variations, a concert opener for the Atlanta Symphony; Happy Valley Blues, a work for the String Trio of New York with Davis on piano; and Pale Grass and Blue, Then Red, a dance work for the Limon Dance Company. His orchestral works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Kansas City Symphony, Beethoven Halle Orchestra of Bonn, and American Composers Orchestra. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed Davis’s opera X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X in concert in November 1992. The Pittsburgh Symphony recently commissioned a new concert opener from Davis entitled Tales (Tails) of the Signifying Monkey.
Recordings of Davis’s music may be heard on the Rykodisc (Gramavision) and Music and Arts labels. His music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer, Inc.
Last updated 3/28/04